School of Culture and Communication - Theses
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ItemBeing in Place: Reimagining Relationships with History, Place and PeopleWebb, Jessie Catherine ( 2021)This creative writing project explores questions of belonging and place in settler-colonial Australia, through an historical and writerly lens. It first explores the interrelationship between writing and colonisation, and the construction of settler identity in relation to the control of landscapes, narratives and representations of Aboriginal people. Through an interweaving of critical and autocritical writing, I draw upon personal experiences-in-place from a settler Australian perspective and use Deborah Bird Rose’s philosophy of ‘writing place’ in an attempt to methodologically unsettle colonising narratives and discourses. The thesis documents an emergent, experiential and immersive writing process, which is focused around the following questions: If the act of writing has been crucial to the construction of settler identity, and Aboriginal misrepresentation, can writing—and more specifically the practice of ‘writing place’— respond to place and our presence here through invasion, rather than our anxiety over the absence of belonging? How might we write as settlers in ways that do not distance us further from our identities as colonisers, from our history and from our potential to take responsibility for our legacies of colonisation? These are questions that drive the work, rather than questions that are answered by the work. Part One traces the development of this thesis through an unsettling of questions of settler belonging to a focus on writing place. It locates the thesis in two places: an Aboriginal community in northern Australia and Melbourne in southern Australia. Part Two is a series of meditations on place that document my explorations of ways to read and write place. I draw on both published texts, place as text, and texts encountered in place, in an effort to consider place as an important academic and literary source. Throughout the thesis, I keep a sense of irresolution to the fore, in an effort towards unsettling, rather than settling (or re-settling) the meaning of experience. Through writing place, I look to place as a text that can reveal our own colonising identities to us, to encourage us to move away from an attempt to ‘indigenise’ to belong but instead to come into relationship with ourselves and to understand how colonisation informs our relationships with place, history and Aboriginal people.
Item'Once we had bread here, you gave us stone'. Food as a technology of biopower in the stories of Jack Davis, Ruby Langford Ginibi, and Alexis WrightFarry, Steven ( 2019)This thesis presents the first comprehensive study of food in the works of Indigenous Australian storytellers. It uses Foucault’s analyses of biopower as a grid of intelligibility through which to describe food’s various functions and effects as they are recorded, reproduced, refracted, and resisted in Jack Davis’s, Ruby Langford Ginibi’s, and Alexis Wright’s storytelling. The thesis reads food as a technology of biopower: a means by which life ‘passe[s] into knowledge's field of control and power's sphere of intervention’ (Foucault 1978, 142). Following a Foucaultian methodology, it presents close and contextualised readings of the ways that food is instrumentalised as a technology of biopower and the functions, effects, and networks of biopower that result in and through the storytellers’ works. The specific topics the thesis engages include accounts of rationing and food-centric resistance in Davis’s plays, food insecurity and obesity discourse in Langford Ginibi’s life stories, and food’s relationship with alcohol and imperilment in Wright’s stories. It traces continuities between the storytellers’ treatment of food as well as identifying the way food generates and is implicated in evolving configurations and networks of biopower. It explores various resistance strategies and their efficacy in and through their stories, as well as the new subjects, hegemonic relations, institutions, forms of government, and fields of power-knowledge that result.
ItemWriting places: whiteness and the design of the built environmentChiodo, Louise Jane ( 2018)The design of the built environment affects people. In Australia, designed spaces reflect specific ideas about nationhood that do not represent the reality of a diverse population. Instead, a white national identity pervades with unresolved issues of land often at the heart of such identity narratives. Whiteness, understood as a specific power structure, operates through landscapes and architecture in explicit and implicit ways. Indigenous cultural identities are also present within and against all of these expressions of whiteness. Such tensions arise in the first instance due to manifestations of whiteness in designed spaces being situated in Indigenous lands and Country while colonial histories and their associated violence, both symbolic and literal, remain largely unacknowledged. This thesis uses a mixed methodology to investigate a range of spaces, including demarcated national spaces, memorial sites, and places of exhibition, through the lens of critical race and whiteness studies to reveal how these identity tensions occur. Though the Australian context is the main focus of the study, an initial look to how similar issues are playing out in the US highlights the existence of transnational whiteness and the nature of the newly-formed relationship between the two nations at the time of Australia’s Federation. It is argued that the complicated relationship between these cultural identities affects the way landscapes and architecture are experienced, whether this is realised on a conscious level or not. Further, by using critical and reflexive modes of engagement, designers can gain deeper insights into place, see and feel their position in relation to these identity tensions, and understand how power is operating through them. This examination of the way cultural identities such as whiteness and Indigeneity are expressed through the design of national, memorial and exhibition spaces, allows a way into thinking about how the same tensions and power dynamics may also be taking place in more everyday spaces.
ItemAustralia and the Pacific: the ambivalent place of Pacific peoples within contemporary AustraliaMackay, Scott William ( 2018)My thesis examines the places (real and symbolic) accorded to Pacific peoples within the historical production of an Australian nation and in the imaginary of Australian nationalism. It demonstrates how these places reflect and inform the ways in which Australia engages with the Pacific region, and the extent to which Australia considers itself a part of or apart from the Pacific. While acknowledging the important historical and contemporary differences between the New Zealand and Australian contexts, I deploy theoretical concepts and methods developed within the established field of New Zealand- centred Pacific Studies to identify and analyse what is occurring in the much less studied Australian-Pacific context. In contrast to official Australian discourse, the experiences of Pacific people in Australia are differentiated from those of other migrant communities because of: first, Australia’s colonial and neo-colonial histories of control over Pacific land and people; and second, Pacific peoples' important and unique kinships with Aboriginal Australians. Crucially the thesis emphasises the significant diversity (both cultural and national) of the Pacific experience in Australia. My argument is advanced first by a historicisation of Australia’s formal engagements with Pacific people, detailing intersecting narratives of their migration to Australia and Australia’s colonial and neo- colonial engagements within the Pacific region. This is followed by case studies of two celebrated sites of Australian “Pacificness”: first, a mapping of the involvement of Pacific players in the sport of rugby league in Australia; and second, an analytic record of Australia’s representation at the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts, held in the Solomon Islands in 2012. A Pacific Studies methodology is developed to provide a theoretically sound and empirically informed approach to Pacific research that distinguishes it from current studies in or of the Pacific.