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Australian Literature: Postcolonialism, Racism, by Graham Huggan

By Graham Huggan

The Oxford stories in Postcolonial Literatures sequence bargains stimulating and available introductions to definitive issues and key genres and areas in the speedily diversifying box of postcolonial literary stories in English. In a provocative contribution to the sequence, Graham Huggan provides clean readings of an exceptional, occasionally deeply unsettling nationwide literature whose writers and readers simply as unmistakably belong to the broader international. Australian literature isn't the distinctive province of Australian readers and critics; neither is its unique activity to supply an inner statement on altering nationwide matters. Huggan's e-book adopts a transnational process, encouraged by way of postcolonial pursuits, within which modern principles taken from postcolonial feedback and demanding race idea are productively mixed and imaginatively remodeled. Rejecting the modern view that Australia isn't, and that Australian literature, like different settler literatures, calls for shut realization to postcolonial equipment and matters. A postcolonial method of Australian literature, he indicates, is greater than only a case for a extra inclusive nationalism; it additionally comprises a common acknowledgement of the nation's replaced dating to an more and more globalized global. As such, the publication is helping to deprovincialize Australian literary reports. Australian Literature additionally contributes to debates in regards to the carrying on with historical past of racism in Australia-a heritage during which the nation's literature has performed a constitutive function, as either product and manufacturer of racial tensions and anxieties, nowhere extra obvious than within the discourse it has produced approximately race, either inside and past the nationwide context.

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Under the new dispensation, the traditionally internationalist concerns of postcolonial literary studies have given way to an analysis of the (trans)cultural effects of emergent globalist paradigms and, more specifically, to an examination of these effects on the transforming national culture. What this has meant is, first, the renationalization, rather than the disappearance, of the postcolonial; and, second, a shifting of the axis of postcolonial research from narrowly literary to broad-based cultural concerns.

In both cases, racial prejudices were exacerbated by widespread linguistic and cultural ignorance, the often exaggerated fear for physical safety, and fierce competition over limited economic resources in the unruly frontier state (Markus 2001; Yarwood and Knowling 1982). After Federation, anti-Asian sentiment, in particular, was to harden into the notorious White Australia policy, explicitly designed to prevent non-European migrants from entering the country. AntiAsianism was further stoked by invasion fears (the so-called ‘Yellow Peril’) and war-fuelled perceptions of Australia as a continent under threat (Walker 1999).

For such critics, the ambivalence of settler writing functions as the sign less of resistance than of complicity, a view articulated forcefully in a book written in part-response to Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin’s, Bob Hodge and Vijay Mishra’s Dark Side of the Dream: Australian Literature and the Postcolonial Mind (1990). Hodge and Mishra see Australian culture in general and its literature, more specifically, as ‘still [being] determined massively by [their] complicity with an imperialist enterprise’ (Hodge and Mishra 1990: x).

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