Walking, frontier and nation: re/tracing the songlines in Central Australian literature

Walking, frontier and nation: re/tracing the songlines in Central Australian literature Conference Paper

Knowledge Intersections: Exploring the Research of Central Australia

  • Author(s): Morrison, Glen
  • Published: 2017

Abstract: Central Australia is widely characterised as a frontier, a familiar trope in literary constructions of Australian identity that divides black from white, ancient from modern. However, anthropological and literary evidence from the Northern Territory and Alice Springs suggests more nuanced ‘lifeworlds’ than a frontier binary can afford may better represent a contemporary lived experience of the region (Merlan 1998; Hinkson 2002; Ottosson 2010; Riphagen 2008; Finnane 2014b; Morrison 2017a). Using walking as a point of intersection between Aboriginal and settler Australian practices of placemaking, the paper summarises (and to an extent updates) doctoral research by the author (2011-15), which read six retold walking journeys of the region for representations of frontier and home (Morrison 2015, 2017a, 2017b). The methodology used for the comparative and cross-cultural analysis of the texts is described, and results briefly appraised for changes in the popular representation of Central Australia from the precolonial era to the early twenty-first century. The research speaks broadly to the reading of postcolonial literary geographies, and suggests that intercultural exchange and a surge in contemporary recognition of Aboriginal songlines through storytelling (alongside the more familiar colonial narratives of nation) may already be reshaping an Australian identity.

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Suggested Citation
Morrison, Glen, 2017, Walking, frontier and nation: re/tracing the songlines in Central Australian literature, Conference Paper, viewed 16 June 2024, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=11203.

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