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New labours, older nativisms? Australian critical whiteness studies, indigeneity and David Malouf’s "Harland’s Half Acre"

Mullaney, Julie (2007) New labours, older nativisms? Australian critical whiteness studies, indigeneity and David Malouf’s "Harland’s Half Acre". The journal of Commonwealth literature, 42 (1). pp. 97-116. ISSN 0021-9894

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Abstract

This article assesses the "new" labours of Australian critical whiteness studies and "older" fantasies of white indigeneity. Nativist "turns" on the creation of a white indigeneity, exemplified in David Malouf’s Harland’s Half Acre, are revisited in the language and rhetorical gestures of whiteness studies, which may suggest both the debt and stranglehold of nativism. Whiteness studies’ preoccupation with an ever more self-questioning and constantly shifting whiteness, are prefigured in Malouf’s novel and his quest for a settled white indigene. If an embodied white indigeneity represents, for Malouf, relief from ghostly non-belongings associated with an unsettled settler culture, for whiteness studies it represents the possible derailment of its ethical intentions, destabilized by the prospect of an embodied, uncontrolled and monstrously reproducing whiteness. However, recognition of the incommensurability of indigenous and non-indigenous understandings of sovereignty in whiteness studies and the commitment to reworking the grounds of non-indigenous investments in sovereignty suggests departure from earlier nativisms.

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