Literary legacy: unconscious bias

McNamara, Noela (2013) Literary legacy: unconscious bias. In: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Racisms in the New World Order: realities of culture, colour and identity. pp. 187-199. From: Third International Conference on Racisms in the New World Order: realities of culture, colour and identity, 29-31 August 2012, Cairns, QLD, Australia.

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Prior to white settlement, literary representations of Australia were that of a primitive place where a barbarous race roamed aimlessly. Such images were the birth place of an unconscious bias foundational to the historical inequality that divides Australian society. Aboriginal women's autobiography opened an avenue of cultural awareness in the 1970s through stories of personal journeys which highlighted the consequences of forced family separation and confinement to State/Church missions as part of the Stolen Generations. Non-Indigenous writers have since produced a plethora of reconciliatory historical fiction which re-engages with the settlement era. I argue that despite claims of cultural awareness within literary discourses, an unconscious bias remains inherent in literary representation of Aboriginal characters in post-millennial historical fiction. Despite authors' claims of good intention through narratives which expose unpunished violence and notions of guilt, an unconscious bias is revived within a colonial discourse that continues to foster an indirect and covert form of new racism through repeated degrading and dehumanizing representations of Aboriginal people. This paper will elucidate new racist perspectives through a deconstructive reading of a selection of contemporary Australian novels including Kate Grenville's The Secret River (2005) and Alex Miller's Journey to the Stone Country (2002).

Item ID: 30074
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
ISBN: 978-0-9875922-6-2
Keywords: negative literary representation, Aboriginal people, ficto-historical genre, post-millennial Australian literature
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This conference proceeding is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia licence. You are free to copy, communicate and adapt this work, so long as you attribute James Cook University [The Cairns Institute] and the authors.

Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2013 22:30
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2005 Literary Studies > 200524 Comparative Literature Studies @ 50%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2005 Literary Studies > 200525 Literary Theory @ 50%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950203 Languages and Literature @ 40%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 30%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9503 Heritage > 950302 Conserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage @ 30%
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