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Songlines and fault lines: six walks that shaped a nation

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thesis
posted on 29.03.2022, 02:05 by Glenn Morrison
In this thesis I argue that persistently representing Central Australia as a frontier prevents Australians from reimagining it as home. Reading for representations of frontier and home, I undertake a critical analysis of six walking narratives that together model place as a palimpsest, thereby articulating a discontinuous history of the Centre's contested spaces since the precolonial era. For the first time, prominent recounted journeys by settler journalists, travel writers and anthropologists are examined alongside an Aboriginal Dreamtime journey along a songline. The comparative and cross-cultural analysis of the texts draw on their shared foundation of walking and writing as means of place-making.In a recent essay, literary editor Julianne Schultz suggests the challenge for Australian writers and journalists is to find ways to allow the various histories of their country to percolate together and inform each other. The purpose is to ‘foster a rich, informed hybrid culture that is not subsumed by myth’ (Schultz 2014). In central Australia, a region often linked to the nation’s identity, one thing stands in the way of such an aim: the hegemonic metaphor of frontier. Curiously, it is this very metaphor that underscores many of the stories defining a popular imagining of ‘what it means to be Australian’. In this thesis I argue that persistently representing Central Australia as a frontier prevents Australians from reimagining it as home. Reading for representations of frontier and home, I undertake a critical analysis of six regional walking narratives that together model place as a palimpsest, thereby articulating a discontinuous history of the Centre’s contested spaces since the precolonial era. For the first time, prominent recounted journeys by settler journalists, travel writers and anthropologists are examined alongside an Aboriginal Dreamtime journey along a songline. The comparative and cross-cultural analysis of the texts draws on their shared foundation of walking and writing as means of place-making. From the six essays emerge a variety of representations for the Centre which, while dominated by the frontier metaphor, betray a distinctive cultural hybridity in the contact zone between settler and Aboriginal Australians. Frontier, the research suggests, is no longer a suitable term to describe Central Australia, and the songlines ― long trivialised by settler Australians’ use of the pejorative Walkabout ― are potentially an important contributor to Australian discourses of hybridity, settler belonging and home. In this way, the work brings a new approach to an ecopoetics of Central Australia. The research advances the underreported role of walking in Australian history and literature, the fledgling writing of Australian places, and builds on recent interest in walking as a critical tool and reading strategy for postcolonial geographies.

History

Table of Contents

1. Introduction : more than a walk in the park -- 2. Literature review : from dead heart to Red Centre -- 3. Pilgrims of the dreaming track -- 4. Planting flags for the enlightenment -- 5. Finding home -- 6. In to the wild -- 7. In the shade of a ghost gum -- 8. A flâneur in the outback -- 9. Conclusion : journey's end.

Notes

Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 289-331

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD

Degree

PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Year of Award

2015

Principal Supervisor

Ian Collinson

Rights

Copyright Glenn Morrison 2015. Copyright disclaimer: http://mq.edu.au/library/copyright

Language

English

Jurisdiction

Australia

Extent

1 online resource (331 pages)

Former Identifiers

mq:69761 http://hdl.handle.net/1959.14/1257461