Year

2009

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Faculty of Arts

Abstract

This thesis attempts to bring together postcolonial and diaspora theories to look at the work of two Indigenous writers. It explores how complexities of postcolonial representation may be analysed by viewing Indigenous populations in Canada and Australia as members of intra-national diasporas, with the mission sites being fashioned as diaspora spaces. The figures that populate these spaces are never quite at home in their host communities, and are also unable to return completely to the homelands of their imaginations. This thesis argues that the defining features of Indigenous diasporic literature are the creation of maban realism and queer figures. Indigenous diasporic texts feature supernatural events and characters, are strongly political, and force mainstream readers into unfamiliar reading positions. The two texts examined here, Alootook Ipellie’s Arctic Dreams and Nightmares and Sam Watson’s The Kadaitcha Sung, achieve this through the use of shamanic protagonists. Each author’s work conforms to a mainstream readership’s expectations in terms of the type of narrative told, yet the texts queer many literary conventions. Ipellie’s stories return to the stereotype of, in his words, the “quaint Eskimo,” whilst Watson’s is, at heart, a Stolen Generations narrative. Perhaps ironically, each writer has used an established narrative which is the antithesis of his own lived experience, suggesting that even as he sought to carve out a space and a means of telling Indigenous stories that may have otherwise remained untold, that space was still being delineated by colonial history. In these works, the shaman is an Indigenous diasporic voice—a way of telling Indigenous stories in difficult political environments. The Indigenous diasporic framework provides a means of analysing such stories, which utilise imagery from two conflicting cultures.

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