The 'vision of the victors' and 'the vision of the vanquished'
2008 was the year of the 220th anniversary of permanent white settlement in Australia - a year of celebration, but not for all citizens. The iconography of Australia packaged for the tourist industry is full of Aboriginal motifs, but the ongoing debate about frontier conflict, violence, dispossession and different interpretations of Indigenous rights and history shows the undiminished importance and force of those topics for Australian society. But which literary answers do Aboriginal and white authors give to these issues and in which way do their interpretations differ from the tradition of colonial politics, historiography and anthropology, which has interpreted frontier conflict in terms of stereotypical categorizations of civilization and savagery for nearly two centuries? Nina Liewald explores the potential of contemporary Australian novels to question colonial dichotomies and bridge cultural divides and contextualizes them within a literary and cultural framework. Detailed narratological analyses give an insight into the way colonial stereotypes about religion, sexuality, violence, language and orality are represented, questioned or inverted. The so-called Australian 'History Wars' - a fundamental controversy about the interpretation of Australian history and Aboriginal rights that fuelled political debates from Paul Keating to John Howard - serve as an important reference point for the novels under discussion and show the undiminished explosiveness of the topic.
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