Rebecca Pannell


This paper posits that there is a meeting place between Theology, Australian Studies and Postcolonial studies and that it lies in the intersections of culture, the crossroads which determine spaces of otherness, identity politics and hybridity. These notions of hybridity and transformation can be found in the symbol of the cross which is constantly being transformed, mutated, corrupted and resurrected in not only visual art, but also in performance texts. These texts reflect diverse responses to organised religion(s) in Australia and its (their) association across a range of interests, from the public arena, such as government policy and social welfare, to the personal, where sexuality is regulated, exploited, and often punished. Australia, like many countries that may be considered 'Postcolonial', has particular stories to tell with regard to the history of 'the cross' as coloniser, not the least of which are those discussed in the performance texts mentioned below. These texts raise issues regarding racial, sexual, and gender persecution, as well as notions of hypocrisy, taboos and otherness. Religion has always had a dual personality in Australia. Linked with authority through connections between the judiciary and the Church of England, the Church has often been equated with the Law; the flipside of this tag being the anti-authoritarian Irish-Catholic streak that was transported with the majority of convicts. But there is also the Paradisaical notion of Australia, a place where dissenters (from Europe, especially, Germany), could find not only safe haven, but a place to 'do God's work'.



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