Presence, Meaning, and the Other in Katharine Susannah Prichard’s Coonardoo: The Well in the Shadow


Barnabás Baranyi

Journal of the European Association for Studies of Australia (JEASA), Vol.7 No.1, 2016.


Barnabás Baranyi

Presence, Meaning, and the Other in Katharine Susannah Prichard's Coonardoo: The Well in the Shadow


Abstract: This article reflects on the discursive strategies deployed by Katharine Susannah Pritchard's Coonardoo to undermine the then-dominant way of referring to Aboriginal-white relations, especially those involving sexuality. The novel does this through establishing Aboriginal culture as resembling a "presence culture" in Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht's terminology, while white-Australian culture is representative of a "meaning culture." Thus Coonardoo sets up a relationship between the two cultures that is reminiscent of the poststructuralist self/Other dichotomy. However, in contrast to most authors reflecting on the novel's representation of Aboriginal Otherness, this paper contends that Prichard's use of this dualism positions the two cultures in a way that allows for meaningful cultural exchange between them, rather than presenting these worldviews as incompatible with one another.


Keywords: Coonardoo, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, land, presence, Other, sexuality, Aboriginal-white relations, discourse of miscegenation


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Copyright © Barnabás Baranyi 2016. This text may be archived and redistributed both in electronic form and in hard copy, provided that the author and journal are properly cited and no fee is charged.


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