White writing black : issues of authorship and authenticity in non-indigenous representations of Australian Aboriginal fictional characters

Miley, Linda (2006) White writing black : issues of authorship and authenticity in non-indigenous representations of Australian Aboriginal fictional characters. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This creative practice-led thesis is in two parts - a novella entitled Leaning into the Light and an exegesis dealing with issues for creative writers who are non-Indigenous engaging with Indigenous characters and inter-cultural relationships. The novella is based on a woman's tale of a cross cultural friendship and is set in a Queensland Cape York Aboriginal community over a period of fifteen years. Leaning into the Light is for the most part set in the late 1960s, and as such tracks some of the social and personal cost of colonisation through its depiction of Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationships within a Christian run mission. In short, Leaning into the Light creates an imaginary space of intercultural relationships that is nevertheless grounded in a particular experience of a 'real' place and time where Indigenous and non-Indigenous subjectivities collide and communicate.

The exegesis is principally concerned with issues of non-Indigenous representation of indigeneity, an area of enquiry and scholarship that is being increasingly theorized and debated in contemporary cultural and literary studies. In this field, two questions raised by Fee (in Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin, 1995) are key concerns in the exegesis. How do we determine who is a member of the Aboriginal minority group, and can majority members speak for this minority? The intensification of interest around these issues follows a period of debate in the 1990s which in turn was spawned by the &quotunprecedented politicisation of {Australian} history" (Collins and Davis, 2004, p.5) following the important Mabo decision which overturned the &quotnation's founding doctrine of terra nullius" (ibid, p.2). These debates questioned whether or not non-Aboriginal authors could legitimately include Aboriginal themes and characters in their work (Huggins, 1994; Wheatley, 1994, Griffiths, et al in Tiffin and Lawson, 1994), and covered important political and ethical considerations, at the heart of which were issues of representation and authenticity. Moreover, there were concerns about non-Indigenous authors competing for important symbolic and publishing space with Indigenous authors. In the writing of Leaning into the Light, these issues became pivotal to the representation of character and situation and as such constitute the key points of analysis in the exegesis.

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ID Code: 16485
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Muller, Vivienne & Bourke, Nicole
Keywords: creative writing, non-indigenous authors, indigenous fiction
Divisions: Past > Schools > Creative Writing & Literary Studies
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Department: Faculty of Creative Industries
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Linda Miley
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:04
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:48

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