The land holds all things: Kim Scott's Benang - a guide to postcolonial spatiality



Publication Details

Slater, L. (2016). The land holds all things: Kim Scott's Benang - a guide to postcolonial spatiality. In B. Wheeler (Ed.), A Companion to the Works of Kim Scott (pp. 37-48). Rochester, United States: Camden House. https://boydellandbrewer.com/a-companion-to-the-works-of-kim-scott-hb.html

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Camden House


The protagonist of Kim Scott's 1999 novel Benang, Harley, insists that he is writing a "simple family history, the most local of histories" (10; see Slater, "Kim Scott's Benang," 147). Harley tells the story of four generations of the family Benang, who have been subjected to relentless colonial violence. Scott's novel contests and disrupts national narratives of progress, heroic pioneers, and brave, entrepreneurial settlers by privileg-ing the memories and experiences of Noongar people.1 The simplicity of the story might lie with the fearlessness with which Scott approaches his material, but there is a simplicity to Scott's determination, which gathers strength throughout the novel: he contests and complicates the British colonial spatial narrative. The colonial imaginary enfolds Aboriginal peo-ple into a narrative of European progress, but on the ground beneath our feet, as Scott writes, "there are many stories" (495). By weaving a novel from the fragments of colonial archives, Harley's eugenicist grandfather's diaries and jottings, family memories, the whispers of Noongar relatives, some long dead, and travels through ancestral country, Scott reinvests space with a multiplicity of stories.

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