Publication Details

Slater, L. 2005, 'Kim Scott's Benang: An ethics of uncertainty', Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, vol. 4, no. 2005, pp. 147-158.


The narrator, Harley, of Kim Scott’s novel Benang, suggests that he is writing “the most local of histories” (10). However, he also questions what it is that he is writing—“What was it? A family history? A local history? An experiment? A fantasy?” (33). Furthermore, throughout the novel, Harley worries that his “little history” might be resuscitating racist discourse. The questions that Harley raises regarding what it is he is writing parallel Scott’s concerns with problems of style, genre and frame. The colonial ideology of assimilation was disseminated through writing, which informed non-Indigenous people’s knowledge of and relationships to Indigenous people and laid the foundation for contemporary race relations.