Detention, displacement and dissent in recent Australian life writing
Narratives of persecution, imprisonment, displacement and exile have been a fundamental aspect of Australian literature: from the convict narratives of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, to writing by refugees and migrants to Australia following World War II, to the narratives of those displaced by more recent conflicts. This paper will focus on two texts published in Australia in the past few years which deal with experiences of persecution and displacement from Afghanistan. Mahboba's Promise (2005) and The Rugmaker of Mazar-e- Sharif (2008) are texts that have to some extent bypassed the quarantining that Gillian Whitlock has argued works to locate potentially disruptive discourse at a safe distance from mainstream consumption. The publications discussed here demonstrate that refugee narratives can negotiate their way into the public sphere and public consciousness. In this process, however, representations of dissent almost necessarily give way to conciliation and integration as former refugee subjects attempt to realign their lives in terms that will provide the best outcomes for themselves, their families and their communities.
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