Next point:

Do we need more awkward jargon? Why hybrid-religion when syncretism can accommodate the spectrum of blended religious beliefs? What gives? Surely from your thesis, my father was being a mimic -- he was! On the other hand, this was an invention of the British, and they could not have called it anything but a solar hat, or perhaps later, a solar topee.

I can still remember how awful it was to wear in the summer; the futility of the cardboard form against the rain requiring a plastic topee for the topee, the mustiness of straw and newspaper stuffing, the stink of sweat on the headband, the useless brittle leather chin strap with its rusty buckle, and the heat, the heat …. Amardeep, I would have benefited immensely from having this as I entered college--far more useful, in fact, than nearly half the "core" curriculum texts they had as required reading It had a heavy desi author component of which I had already read nearly everything.

Considering that I've disposed of much of the 'theory' I learned in undergraduate schooling, this is not casual or slight praise. I found the essay very very informative and worth copying and printing out for the sake of my students. I hope you would not mind.

Edited by Graham Huggan

I am going to mention the link so that its easy for them to quote. I must say the language, the style are all very down to earth and unambiguous. Thank you for this thoughtful and clear explanation of these sometime sticky terms. I will definitely direct my students to this site - you've done them all a service! Amardeep, Thank you for this. I have been intrigued by Bhabha's argument for the subversive potential of mimicry, but have run into some radblocks.

Namely, if a colonial subject destabilizes dominant ideology through the mimicry of its visual cues, for example, does he benefit from his unintentional subversion? Is there a theoretical distinction between an individual who internalizes the ideology that marginalizes him, and an individual who merely "plays along" to gain access to the rewards associated with valorizing the dominant culture?

Historically, due to low rainfall and the irregular flow of rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin, an intensive irrigation system was built to expand agricultural and pastoral development at the turn of the twentieth century Goodall , "Telling Country" However, the development of the irrigation system met with fierce opposition from Aboriginal traditional landowners, for many reasons: the source of water, such as waterholes, was of cultural significance in Aboriginal knowledge system; the changed watercourses and underground water levels not only severely affected Aboriginal people who lived along the rivers, but also jeopardized their important cultural and ritual sites and threatened the transmission of Aboriginal traditional culture; moreover, compounded by years of overgrazing in this region, the environmental deterioration made it difficult for Aboriginal people to maintain their traditional ways of life ibid.

The pastoral landscape has been a powerful evocation of Australian nationhood since the nineteenth century. By the s, the pastoral imagery of flocks of sheep in rural settings had gradually replaced the bush legend, signifying a new Australia in the national historiography D. In contrast to the wild and unknown bush, the rural or pastoral landscape was believed to be civilized, pacified and prosperous, which provided "the best evidence of successful settlement" ibid. The pastoralists sought to celebrate their toil in a pastoral nation.

However, conflicts led by the disparate interests between pastoralists and Aboriginal groups have remained ever since European settlement. The novel addresses pastoral history through the portrayal of the Mortlocks, who exude the pride of the family's pastoral legacy on the land that has been "looked after for five generations" Lachie argues with Walter, defending his family's established relations with the property:. Who do you reckon this land belongs to?

Not to you, mate.

There's none of your people left round here. They're gone. Asserting his family's connections with this place, Lachie's remark echoes the dominant ideology which denied Aboriginal habitation and forced displacement in history.

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Mapping the Sacred – Religion, Geography and Postcolonial Literatures | brill

Moreover, his view insists that only those who originate from here are entitled to the land rights, expressing a prevalent idea of place-boundedness which excludes the dispersed Aboriginal descendants like Walter from reclaiming their rights to the land. With a focus on the characterization of Jimmy, the novel demonstrates the efforts of traditional landowners to maintain their contact with country under colonial control in Australian pastoral history.

Jimmy is portrayed as an Aboriginal "clever man"-the custodian or deputy of Aboriginal traditional landowners Meanwhile, he is also "a good man, a good worker" for Mr Mortlock Jimmy's double role does not mean a mitigation of the historical and racial confrontation between traditional landowners and white pastoralists.

Rather, it captures the uneven power relation between these two groups during the post-contact history. Jimmy's job as a worker, on the one hand, reflects the difficulty of Aboriginal people to continue living in traditional ways after being dispossessed and displaced. On the other, as white settlers gained the dominant control on economic and social fronts, it became a strategic expediency for Aboriginal labourers to work on the property, so that they could support themselves without relying solely on mission charity and seek possible ways to maintain their traditional contact with the land i.

In the novel, this vexed relationship between Aboriginal traditional landowners and white pastoralists is characterized by both conflict and co-existence, which I will return to shortly. The complexity in the characterization of Jimmy is not only seen from his double role as both the Aboriginal custodian and the stockman on Mr Mortlock's property, but is also revealed from another detail: when serving in the army during WWI, Jimmy saved Clarry's life; and Jimmy, Clarry and Mr Mortlock became best mates on the battlefield in France.


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However, the relatively equal relationship as comrade-in-arms was dissolved into uneven racial dichotomy when they returned to Australia. Jimmy's devotion in war was faded into oblivion after the war and his name was not able to enter on the war memorial without Clarry's insistence and Mr Mortlock's support. This captures the racial discrimination entrenched in Australian mainstream white society.

Jimmy's patriotism in fighting for the country of Australia during the wartime could possibly be connected to his responsibility and loyalty to the same, yet however contested, "country" as an Aboriginal custodian.

Nevertheless, racial dominance and split interests in the use of land ultimately render the tragic confrontation between Mr Mortlock and Jimmy inevitable. As the novel unfolds, Mr Mortlock insists on the plan for building a dam over an Aboriginal sacred site, regardless of Jimmy's strong objections. Based on the mateship that he built up with Clarry during the wartime, Jimmy approaches Clarry first and anticipates that Clarry could join him to convince Mr Mortlock to give up the plan. Jimmy explains to Clarry the importance of the sacred site:.

Chapter 8 - Said, Postcolonial Studies, and World Literature

Then he said, "Suppose you're given something to look after. Something precious, something -" He glanced across at Dad [Clarry]. And suppose you knew that a person was planning to do something that would destroy that sacred thing. What would you do? Aware that Aboriginal custodianship bears little resemblance with Western practices, Jimmy makes an effort to translate the Aboriginal sacred site into "something to look after," "something precious" and "sacred" that Clarry as a white man can possibly grasp.

In doing so, Jimmy seeks white alliance to protect Aboriginal land interests while he petitions Mr Mortlock. Different from the violent confrontation or "guerrilla tactics" during the contact history, to seek alliance with and to petition white people for land preservation, as shown in this episode, manifests an alternative approach by Aboriginal traditional landowners to cope with the changed power relations see Goodall , "New South Wales" The novel's climax is the intense argument between Jimmy and Mr Mortlock.

Jimmy speaks out about his responsibility to protect the Aboriginal sacred site, when confronting Mr Mortlock. Mustn't do this, mustn't do that! You'd think it was his own damn land! But this is my business. The tension-to whom this land belongs-underlines the power struggle and negotiation between the two "landholders": the white property owner and the Aboriginal custodian.

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Note that Jimmy undertakes the traditional custodianship, but he was not born to this country. As he reveals elsewhere,. But I know a special place when I see it. There's a special place in that valley. I know it. The people who belong to that place, they're not here to protect it, so I got to do it. The colonial dispossession forces Jimmy away from his own country. He is not an Aboriginal descendent from this place, but he is committed to this new country where he lives now, by forming a new kinship relationship and taking care of this country as his "business" Jimmy's example challenges the dominant assumption of seeing the newly formed connection with another country as "inauthentic" or "fabricated.

As a matter of fact, Aboriginal custodianship is by and large based on the kinship system.

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Aboriginal kinship is an extended family network in a traditional community, different from the vertical family tree commonly seen in European genealogy Goodall, "Telling Country" Moreover, the kinship system is not necessarily formed through biological relations because one can be the descendent of a particular sacred object or place.

The custodian for a particular country does not necessarily originate from that place, but he needs to acquire sufficient knowledge of the land and go through rigorous ritual procedures to establish the loyalty with that particular country. Only in this way can he be capable and responsible for the rights conferred by the land and the obligations derived from the land. In this sense through the portrayal of Jimmy, an Aboriginal custodian who commits himself to a new country, this novel informs young readers of Aboriginal custodianship and kinship system, which are often misunderstood and denigrated.

Aboriginal connectedness to country is governed by the Law, observed by generations of Aboriginal people. In the novel, the recurring reference to the Law transmits a strong sense of restoring justice for the loss of Aboriginal life and recognizing the interests of traditional landowners. As the Crow reiterates, " when the Law is broken, there must be punishment " ; italics in orig. This causality implies that the injustice of Jimmy's death results in Mr Mortlock's mysterious suicide, Clarry's untimely death, and the dried lake where the dam is built. To position the Aboriginal law in the foreground, the novel alludes to the absence of legal justice for traditional landowners.

Impacts Of Post-Colonialism In Things Fall Apart, Surfacing, And Fire On The Mountain

Since the European settlement, native title was gradually extinguished by the Crown and the British law overrode the traditional Aboriginal law. The historic Mabo decision in and the subsequent Native Title Act recognized the Aboriginal possession of their traditional land when Australian sovereignty was established. In this light, conflicts between pastoral leases and native title once again came into the social and legal spotlight.

Indeed, after the Mabo case, a wave of heated debates erupted over the question of whether the grant of pastoral leases could extinguish native title. There have long been legal disputes about conflicting land interests between pastoralists and Aboriginal traditional claimants. Henry Reynolds traces the historical development of the legal policies and opinions, pointing out that as a matter of fact during the ss senior colonial officials understood the continuance of Indigenous rights to the land.

However, following the intensification of pastoral use of land from the s, the expulsion of Aboriginal inhabitants and the pastoralists' campaign to call for enhanced security on their properties, the legislation was compromised and Aboriginal land rights on pastoral leases were, in Reynolds' words, "ignored, unenforced and apparently never tested in the colonial courts" As depicted in Crow Country , Jimmy argues that the dam construction is "against the Law, all the Laws," which may imply that the breach of Aboriginal land rights violates both Aboriginal law and white men's law of certain historical periods.

Jimmy's hidden death may allude to many real tragic incidents that resulted from racial tensions concerning land use, yet which were dismissed, closed, or never brought to court for justice. In this context, the Wik People v. State of Queensland case 13 can be seen as a hard-won success, which rules that native title is not necessarily extinguished by pastoral leases, suggesting that Indigenous rights and interests to the land can co-exist with non-Indigenous proprietary rights on pastoral leases.

But Aboriginal independent law making, particularly in relation to land control and management, remains a struggle. While exposing the injustice related to Aboriginal land rights in history, Crow Country pins the hope of racial reconciliation on the younger generation. Sadie and Walter reconcile with Lachie at the end.


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  • After Lachie knows that Jimmy has been secretly buried in his the Mortlocks' family graveyard, he proposes to put up a marker for Jimmy's grave. He says to Sadie and Walter, "Well, if you want to put up your cross or whatever, I guess you can go ahead. Dad'll never know. He never comes here" To put up the grave marker for Jimmy is symbolically meaningful, because it not only recognizes a solemn presence of Aboriginal land interests on a pastoral property, but also signifies a re-assertion of Aboriginal bonds with country in a largely white Australia.

    From Lachie's words, we also know the attitudinal indifference of his father, who does not care about his own family graveyard, let alone the injustice to Jimmy in the past. The characterization of Lachie's father represents an entrenched racial ideology that refuses to acknowledge historical wrongs. While acknowledging the difficulty of changing the colonial mindset in Australian mainstream society, the ending of the novel suggests that there is no quick solution to amend history and to create a reconciled future.

    But the collective action taken by the three teenagers escapes the surveillance of Lachie's father and signifies a hope of setting up a reconciliatory space for the deceased Jimmy and Mr Mortlock who were both mates and enemies. Their action also becomes a starting point of a deeper understanding and friendship among the three teenagers who represent the hope to build a reconciled future. By redressing the racial injustice and inculcating young readers with a historical perspective on Aboriginal struggles for land rights, this novel shows the Aboriginal efforts to resist cultural amnesia in the memory of homelands, to re-connect their country with custodial duties and to re-establish the authority of Aboriginal Law that governs the human-land relationship.