Publication Details

McMahon-Coleman, K. 2005, 'Fatal attraction? A non-indigenous feminist's exploration of masculinities in indigenous literature', in L. Moxham, K. Douglas, T. Dwyer, S. Walker, J. Wooller & M. Cornelius (eds), Women in Research Conference, Women in Research, Central Queensland University, Queensland, pp. 1-8.


“Diaporic literature” is a term frequently used to discuss writers who have written about transculturation and disjunction. Hence some literature can be classified as belonging to a sub-class of “Indigenous Diaspora,” where the authors’ work is informed by their people’s histories of transplantation, dispossession and alienation at the hands of colonial regimes. The Murri writer Sam Watson and Nyoongar author Kim Scott both fit into this category. The work of both novelists also shares a focus on shamanism and traditional magic, allowing for an exploration of spirituality and power from two cultural sources—that of the colonised and of the coloniser. It was for these reasons that I chose to link the authors in question when writing my doctoral thesis. In the course of my research, however, yet another intriguing similarity emerged—in Watson’s The Kadaitcha Sung and Scott’s Benang: from the heart, women are largely absent, or at best play a supporting role. Alternative forms of masculinities are explored, and accepted moral ‘standards’—as enforced by Christian colonisers—are questioned through the presentation of non-monogamous, and indeed, non-heteronormative, relationships. This has further complicated the already-fraught issue of authority—has a non-Indigenous person the right to critically analyse and evaluate the work of an Indigenous writer? And how does a female researcher reconcile working with texts which are, at times, misogynistic? In the end this paper seeks to explore the complex issues raised in the texts of marginalised authors, and the impact that these authors’ decisions have on readers and critics.