Span: Journal of the South Pacific Assoc for Cwlth Lit and Language Studies
Number 36, 1992
Postcolonial Fictions:
Proceedings of the SPACLALS Triennial Conference 1992
Edited by Michèle Drouart

Grounding Postcolonial Fictions: Cultural Constituencies, Cultural Credentials and Uncanny Questions of Authority

Chris Prentice

Since the early 1980s, there have been frequent debates within the literary and cultural communities of Australia, Canada and New Zealand regarding the politically appropriate production of discourse from within social and cultural categories of Otherness. Barbara Godard has stated:

The question of the right to represent individuals or topics belonging to a minority culture has been a contentious issue in Canadian literary circles. . . . It was over just this problem that Women's Press in Toronto split into two groups over an anthology which included narratives about minority groups . . . written by white Canadian women.1

In debates over the politics of representation, there are often important issues obscured by a too-ready acceptance of the spectacle of immediate presences battling it out in the name of rights and justice. Helen Tiffin has already pointed out, of postcolonial societies, that "[t]exts constructed those worlds,"2 and I believe it is useful to consider some implications of the condition of textuality for contemporary postcolonial socio-cultural contexts. In addressing questions of textual authenticity that have emerged through the authorial figures of B[anumbir] Wongar3 and Keri Hulme, I posit a perhaps unexpected literary juxtaposition. My concern is not to establish the rights or wrongs of their literary and self-representations, nor to construct an account of literary frauds in any simple individual way, although issues of fraudulence must inevitably arise when we speak of writing. Instead, I want to draw out some of the informing assumptions of the reception of their work, assumptions which underlie the politics of postcolonial representation. The shadow of "postcolonization" lurks threateningly behind the postcolonial concern over exploitation and appropriation. It is manifested in the desire to hear the Other speak, to uncover the secret (of wholeness) both held and represented by the Other of the colonial encounter. So, the postcolonial fictions I am concerned with today are, on the one hand, B. Wongar and Keri Hulme; on the other, there is the fiction of the possibility of a whole and redeemed postcolonial nation founded on the return of the repressed Other of the colonial encounter.

The cases of Wongar and Hulme illustrate the obsession with the "credentials" of the authors as to some extent having (dis)placed the texts themselves, or at least supporting readings of the text through the figure of the "author." This obsession points to the critical concern in postcolonial cultures with the questions of speaking rights and speaking positions. These have tended to be treated as political rather than autonomously literary-aesthetic questions. For example, an entry in Goodwin's A History of Australian Literature stated that "there was . . . a misconception for some time that [Wongar] was an Aboriginal,"4 and Sneja Gunew's statement that "[i]n general terms, overseas, Wongar's texts appear to be received as the voice of Aboriginal Australia."5 The question of the "authenticity" of the "voice" is apparently only raised on Australia's politicized postcolonial literary terrain, and primarily as a territorial rather than an "artistic" question.6 Similarly, the controversy and debate over Keri Hulme's The Bone People 7 is one divided between those who find the text profoundly credible, albeit on a variety of sometimes contradictory terms, and those who question and even reject its - largely by way of Hulme's - credibility, or again more precisely, credentials.8 The "evidence" brought to bear on the "credentials" of Wongar and Hulme is substantial, varied and contradictory, and I allude to it not in order to construct a full, let alone definitive account, but to draw out the terms upon which the debates have rested. There are important differences between the "cases" of B. Wongar and Keri Hulme. Nevertheless, considered together and in comparison, they raise a range of issues of critical literary and political concern in the settler postcolonial context.

Wongar was "discovered" also - as opposed to "really" - to be Sreten Bozic, a Yugoslavian who appears to have been a trained anthropologist.9 The names Bozic and Wongar are not entirely isomorphic and don't serve the same function. Bozic refers to the individual in his civic status, including his profession/activities as an anthropologist, and signifies his Yugoslavian ethnicity. Admittedly, it is the name of the co-author (with Alan Marshall) of Aboriginal Myths (1972), and more intriguingly, of Wongar's "unofficial agent."10 Wongar, on the other hand, is the name which groups together certain other texts, and ties them to this name. In that way, Wongar is the name of the author. The problem, however, can't lie simply in the use of another name which describes him as author and describes the collectivity of his works: this has been common practice. Instead, it lies in his adoption of an "Aboriginal" name, an adoption which has been regarded not simply as a "choice," but as an "appropriation."11 In postcolonial Australia, an Aboriginal name invokes a kind of propriety as it names indigeneity.12 However, Wongar has been argued to be an improper name. The authenticity of the name itself, which "translates roughly as 'messenger from the spirit world,' " has been questioned not only on grounds of "sacrilege," but also on grounds that it reinforces the author as "false god. The text becomes fixed . . . by the improper name of the author and is declared illegitimate by a series of displacements."13 His (adoption of an) "Aboriginal" name is therefore "read" (in relation to one set of intertexts) first as signifying his "Aboriginality," then (in relation to another set of intertexts) as a claim to "Aboriginality," an act of "indigenization" whose meaning lies in the appropriation of an authentic belonging to place.14

Wongar, the name attached to the author-function, can therefore not be considered a "fiction" in any sense that differentiates it from a stable "reality." Even accounts from his own lifestory invoke interviewer scepticism ("Is this a true story you're telling me?"), and his own anticipation of disbelief ("I know it sounds like a joke, but it happened").15 Wongar has only ever been a textual phenomenon. An article entitled "Solved: The Great B. Wongar Mystery" which appeared in the Bulletin Literary Supplement suggests that Wongar emerged into the literary world already as a mystery to be solved. Yet the proliferation of identities under the name of Wongar subverts the project of (re)solution and fixity, ultimately preserving its textual status. As Ken Gelder explains, "He wasn't always represented as an Aborigine," and in another context it has been "noted that B. Wongar was 'the pen name of a young American of Negro-white blood who served in the American army in Vietnam. He fled to the bush when on leave in Australia and made north, where his colour and features were similar to those of the Aborigines.'"16 As well as the constellation of intertexts which have also produced him as Sreten Bozic, Yugoslavian immigrant anthropologist who has assumed anything from merely an "Aboriginal" name to an "Aboriginal" identity, a more recent source cites him as having grown up in Yugoslavia, but also as claiming Aboriginal descent and having spent many years living a tribal existence.17

By contrast, "Keri Hulme" names both the author of The Bone People (and other texts although it is the novel which has focussed the particular issues relevant here) and a "civic" identity, whose increasingly familiar private and public personae have been "read," and "read into" her novel. Her "case," however, has less to do with the propriety of her name as such than the way in which that name has been inhabited. Admittedly, Hulme changed the spelling of her first name from Kerry to the more Maori-connoted Keri; nevertheless it is not a question of whether she really is Keri Hulme, or someone else, but of the truth of the identity named Keri Hulme. Specifically, while she possesses Kai Tahu ancestry, or Maori "blood," and explicitly and consistently identifies as Maori, the debate has centred on her "right" to do so. Merata Mita describes The Bone People as a novel "written by a Maori woman,"18 as does Judith Dale,19 while C.K. Stead points out that "[o]f Keri Hulme's eight great-grandparents one only was Maori." For Stead, this is insufficient to make her truly Maori. Further, Stead argues, she was not brought up speaking the Maori language, although "like many Pakeha New Zealanders she has acquired some in adult life."20 This indicates, for Stead, the inauthenticity of "secondary socialisation." Margery Fee demonstrates greater sensitivity to the racial, cultural and linguistic ambiguities of the settler postcolonial context, acknowledging the social dislocations effected by colonialism and settler-dominated nationalism, with generations raised in (politically determined) ignorance of their ancestry or cultural traditions. She further points out that Stead performs a curious reversal of the traditional grounds of discursive disqualification: "The smallest amount of 'impure' blood has frequently been enough to disqualify minority group members from acceptance by the majority. Now, the argument is turned around on Hulme: unless she has more Maori blood, she can't speak as one."21 The issue of whether or not she can write as Maori has been obscured by factors which have caused the reader to conflate Hulme and her text into a unified act of expression.

Wongar and Hulme are each responsible for a different degree of complicity in the reader's conflation of the author as writing subject with the "identity" of the text. Despite his first person narratives located within a construct of Aboriginal culture, Wongar's subtle textual disclaimers have been outlined by Gunew, citing epigraphs, a glossary, and a preface which variously function to position him as a "tribal outsider," and his texts as "an imaginative impersonation [which] . . . does not purport to be an unmediated first-person account."22 Connor and Matthews problematize the very notion of the author "outside" of the "inside" of the text. They point out that "[h]is work consistently threads the problematic of his own identity into the narrative, collapsing the outside/inside distinction."23 Keri Hulme has been arguably more clearly and consistently complicit with an author-centred reading of her novel, so that doubts about her authenticity reflect upon the text. Despite her disclaimers, the choice of the protagonist's name, Kerewin Holmes, and her physical description so strongly evoking Hulme's own appearance, one which the media attention surrounding the novel made increasingly familiar to the general reader, have clearly constituted too strong a temptation to such a reading.

Wongar's literary community, and his position within it, are somewhat different from those of Hulme. There is a stronger discourse of multi-culturalism in Australia than in New Zealand, which is more concerned with the politics of bi-culturalism. Had he written as Bozic, a Yugoslavian immigrant, he would undoubtedly have been conferred with the ambivalent Otherness to the dominant Anglo-Australian culture which would have granted him a position from which to speak, even as it positioned his discourse within dominant constructions and exclusions of that very definition as "migrant writer." But he has not consistently or unproblematically inhabited this pre-constituted subject-position, within which he could have been both heard and contained.24 Thus he could be argued to have transgressed phonocentric critical assumptions about the necessity and inevitability of the Other speaking as (her/his proper) Other; for example, migrant writers speak their own experience in forms which function either as sociology or as oral history.25 Bozic, under such a dispensation, did not speak as Other: instead, he wrote as (another) Other, proving that writing is fundamentally unreliable, even dishonest. He is therefore implicitly charged with failing to speak as a "Yugoslavian immigrant." However, in a literary discursive formation marked, as Sneja Gunew notes, by its tendency to conflate Aboriginal writing with "ethnic" writing, we need to ask why this apparently sanctioned step "sideways" should have aroused the level of debate that it did.26 Part of the answer is undoubtedly that the postcolonial cultural context has been witness to an increasing nervousness over discourses which fail to accord priority status to First Peoples, while its "multi-cultural" moment rejects the construction of the monolithic Other.27 However, another part of the answer concerns the relationship between discourse and the material conditions of its production. Postcolonial criticism has offered a limit-case to, or a grounding of, the post-modern "first-world tourism of the margins" dislocated from the material conditions of oppression and marginality.28 Here we may invoke further "biographical information" about Wongar himself. As already mentioned, as Sreten Bozic he is apparently a trained anthropologist, and as an anthropologist (or one who has engaged in anthropological activities) he is situated within a profession which has been complicit with the perpetuation of colonial discourse. In addition, this professional status is differentiated from the "authenticity" of experience in much the same way as writing is differentiated from speech, as a mediated phenomenon. Therefore, Bozic is further charged with fraudulently "speaking as" an Aboriginal.

Keri Hulme's position within a cultural context in which bi-culturalism is the more usual discourse of racial politics, is apparently less complex: the implication is that either she is Maori, or she is Pakeha "cashing in" on the currently perceived advantages of Maori identification.29 This is the specific charge brought by C.K. Stead, who believes that "The Bone People . . . is a novel by a Pakeha which has won an award intended for a Maori."30 The concern over possible "cashing in" constitutes a further area of commonality between Hulme and Wongar: the question of financial gain from their writing appears to have intensified the outrage of those who consider their indentifications fraudulent. Gunew cites the title of one review of Wongar's work: "'B. Wongar Publishes Ferocious Fable, Collects $25,000,'" and explains that it alludes to "a senior writer's grant from the Literature Board."31 Certainly Hulme, like Wongar, has access to another Otherness as a woman, an identification which in itself has not been contested, although her "typicality" or representativeness certainly has been debated.32

The politics of the concern with authorial, and through the figure of the author, textual origins cannot be separated from extra-literary political concerns. Wongar has disavowed his implication in political questions, proclaiming "I am not in the political field; I'm not standing for election."33 Yet when Sharrad argues that "[e]ven if the stories about Wongar's tribal identity are true . . . we would still have grounds for suspecting his credentials as spokesman for traditional culture in the Northern Territory,"34 we are confronted squarely with the discourse of the politics of representation. Gunew suggests of Wongar's texts that "a concern with origins . . . may well in this case be invoked in order to curtail potentially embarrassing political meanings."35Ê Wongar has claimed that "his work had been blacklisted because of a photographic exhibition concerning the impact of mining on Arnhem Land Aborigines which he had organized in 1974 and which had been cancelled."36 In another context of extra-literary disqualification, Fee makes the point with regard to Stead's reading of Hulme as Pakeha: "To label her Pakeha discredits her vision, marginalizes her message, and buries her in a tradition that can safely contain her."37

Yet claims of The Bone People's political victimization actually function to enhance aspects of its status. Certainly, "Bits of mythology have begun to form around the book."38 But these should be understood, against Stead's notion of "falsehood" or "misconception," as bodies of knowledge whose meaning and truth lie in the "necessity" of what they accomplish or explain. Elizabeth Webby, describing the search for a publisher for The Bone People, suggests that "the book's length and, one suspects, its feminism as well as its Maoriness, went against it."39 Hulme has herself participated in this myth-making. In her "Preface to the First Edition: Standards in a non-standard Book," she evokes the development of the book as something organic, something which "grew" according to its own inner energies, Hulme herself in the thrall of this process. However, she also tells the reader that "the first three publishers turned it down on the grounds, among others, that it was too large, too unwieldy, too different when compared with the normal shape of novel." To the extent that a postcolonial culture flatters itself that it celebrates rather than suppresses difference, this stands as something of an indictment, such that the fact of the novel's eventual appearance is cause for celebration of its triumph over "political" suppression. Indeed, Hulme follows with triumphant words: "Enter, to sound of trumpets and cowrieshell rattles, the Spiral Collective."40

This suggests the functioning of the now familiar "repressive hypothesis" in the construction of "truth" and "authenticity." The fact of the novel's repression means that its "subjective" demand to surface constitutes it as the liberating counterpart to repressive "power." Further, "truth" lies not simply in the fact of its production but in the difficulty of its production, its production out of struggle, and thus its putative status as expression: out of the depths of the creative subject has come the plenitude of the inalienable, spoken word. Out of the depths of New Zealand's literary and publishing institutional psyche, one reads, has emerged that which could not be admitted, The Bone People.

But perhaps the passions aroused in the debate over the "authenticity" of the novel are more clearly understood if one considers divided opinion on whether The Bone People is a New Zealand novel, a question again inevitably tied to both the authenticity, and the authority, of the author. No one has denied that Keri Hulme is a New Zealander, although one reviewer posited an analogy between Hulme and her protagonist: both are ludicrously unrepresentative of their nationality (or gender).41 On the other hand, Merata Mita describes it as "the first real New Zealand novel . . . in that it truly represents New Zealand society with its schizophrenic oscillation between the obsessive individualization of the Pakeha world and the historical and spiritual consciousness of the Maori world."42 Stead refers to the two New Zealand Listener reviews which "told her she had spoken for us all, or for all women, or all Maoris,"43 his tone and his qualifiers apparently dismissive of the larger claim.

I began by suggesting that the reception of Wongar and Hulme has been symptomatic of the postcolonial desire to hear the Other speak, a desire which serves the narcissistic needs of a redemptive nationalism. The anxiety over fraudulence is at best ironic, but in a sense it is not entirely without grounds: the terms of the Other which could be admitted into postcolonial national consciousness are the familiar, the known-of-old, self constituting ones. In fact, I want to go so far as to suggest that in an uncanny way, Wongar is a "typical Australian" and Hulme a "typical New Zealander," and that the source of the anxiety with which their literary identifications have met lies precisely here.

Postcolonialism comprises a belated replaying of the colonial encounter with difference, where the hybrid products of that encounter return from the "unconscious" of nation's unity. The colonial encounter "produced" colonizer and colonized; it produced blood and race, language, culture, even in a certain way, gender, as modes of differentiation, and these are where there has been the greatest investment of postcolonial discursive energies. The terms of the debates over Wongar and Hulme may be read as sites of struggle, as the reappearance of the repressed does not complete, but disturbs the calculation of national unity. Similarly, the debate over the authenticity or otherwise of Hulme's and Wongar's texts - even as politicized issues of postcolonial representation - is fundamentally caught between modes of differentiation and modes of unification or identity. These are contradictory impulses, and the contradiction is, I argue, an anxious one for the Australian and New Zealand postcolonial nation.

Freud has demonstrated how the heimlich - the familiar, the homely, the "at home," the private, the hidden - tends towards and merges with the unheimlich (translated as "uncanny") - the "unhomely," that which is frightening, inspires dread the way the new or foreign might, but which is secretly familiar: "something which ought to have remained hidden but has come to light."44 The return of the repressed. Closely related is the adjective geheim, the secret. I referred to the "secret" at the beginning of the paper, and now argue that this has been a hidden but structuring feature of postcolonial discourse, contested both as the withheld knowledge(s) of colonialism's Other, a site of privacy and difference, or of the final dignity of silence against the demand to speak (Sally Morgan's My Place negotiates all of these connotations), and as Hodge and Mishra have pointed out, it functions in relation to the desired resolution of past and present which would somehow, in the figure of the (post)colonized, legitimate the colonial enterprise into natural and political wholeness.45

To return to Wongar and Hulme: Wongar is the unfamiliar, the "foreign" - from the land, whether Australian or Yugoslavian, whether migrant or dispossessed - and from himself, by the fictional constructions, or mythologies, of identity. His fictional selves render him constitutively fraudulent, and his gestures of indigenization as appropriative. He is everything Australia recognizes but does not wish to, cannot, admit about itself; he is the unspeakable secret, the "typical Australian."

Keri Hulme represents uncanny reversals of modes of New Zealand national identity that have been problematized in postcolonial discourse, those embarrassingly recurrent stereotypes of a past mythology. She is thus uncannily familiar, but enticingly different, "an unintended recurrence of the same . . . but which differs radically in other respects."46 The "man alone" gendered female and Maori-identified, for instance. She also instigates a reminder of the violence of colonial discourse and the potential treachery of liberal postcolonial discourses' espousal of notions of authenticity and tradition. Doesn't the fear of her fraudulent identification and material gain resonate uncannily for the New Zealand white settler postcolonial subject?

In response to the objection that any notion of a "typical" Australian or New Zealander must be fictional, I would of course agree, but go further to argue that it is not simply their typicality which is fictional, but their fictionality which is typical. Could settler postcolonial subjectivity be, like Julia Kristeva's psychoanalysis, a "journey into the strangeness of the other and of oneself, toward an ethics of respect for the irreconcilable." She asks: "How could one tolerate a foreigner if one did not know one was a stranger to oneself?"47 And she recalls the work of Freud, who "brings us the courage to call ourselves disintegrated in order not to integrate foreigners and even less so to hunt them down, but rather to welcome them to that uncanny strangeness, which is as much theirs as it is ours."48

There is here, I think, an apposite point in relation to current responses to postcolonial theory and analysis. A perhaps uncanny reversal is occurring: where it has occasionally but forcefully been argued that postcolonialism can or should only speak authentically for the (post)colonized, it is now tending to be rejected outright as a mode of analysis useful to those discriminated against on the basis of race, culture, ethnicity, colour, or gender, in the wake of imperialism and colonialism. Nevertheless, I think it is still a rubric with work to do. In practices of self analysis and self critique, there is still the potential to decentre and destabilize the "self" of dominant cultural constructions and assumptions. With due regard to Gayatri Spivak's warning that self analysis may simply re-instal the analytical subject in the centre, it may still be a risk worth taking, for two reasons.49 To attain consciousness of the unconscious both problematizes sovereignty and revalues difference; and it may be possible to achieve a true silence, a space into which difference may speak. Postcolonialism can avoid representing the Other in terms of dominant desires; it can stop calling the Other into being and demanding its "voice." Instead, it can allow room for negotiations of identity and subjectivity in ways which acknowledge the impact of history on tradition, and tradition on history, but still hear expressions of difference for the contemporary moment.

University of Otago, NZ

Notes

1 Barbara Godard, "The Politics of Representation: Some Native Canadian Women Writers," Canadian Literature 124-125 (Spring-Summer 1990) 188.

2 Helen Tiffin, "Post-Colonial Literatures and Counter-Discourse," Kunapipi 9.3, 1987: 22.

3 The "B" of B. Wongar has also been rendered as "Birimbir." See Sneja Gunew, "Theoretical Perspectives," in Sneja Gunew and Kateryna O. Longley, eds., Striking Chords: Multi-Cultural Literary Interpretations (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1992) 44.

4 Ken Goodwin, A History of Australian Literature (London: MacMillan, 1986), 269.

5 Sneja Gunew, "Culture, Gender and the Author-Function: Wongar's Walg," Southern Review, 20 (November, 1987): 201.

6 Paul Sharrad, nevertheless, examines the authenticity of Wongar's writing in more literary terms, finding evidence of apparently authentic patterns of imagery and representations of social relations, but also "infelicities of style" which finally undercut the credibility of the texts' claims to Aboriginal authorship. See Paul Sharrad, "Does Wongar Matter?" Kunapipi 4.1 (1982): 40-1.

7 Keri Hulme, The Bone People (Auckland: Spiral, with Hodder and Stoughton, 1985). While earlier editions used lower case initials for the title, and some critics have continued this, I use capitals for the title as consistent with this edition, while retaining the forms used in critical citations.

8 See, for example, the reviews by Peter Simpson, Press, 1 Sept. 1984; Merata Mita, "Indigenous Literature in a Colonial Society," The Republican 52 (1984); and Joy Cowley, New Zealand Listener, May 12, 1984, p. 60, for affirmations of its credibility on various grounds. On the other hand, C.K. Stead, "Keri Hulme's The Bone People and the Pegasus Award for Maori Literature," Ariel 16.4 (October 1985), and Agnes-Mary Brooke "The Bone People Revisited," The Press, 27 Sept., 1986, are among those who deny its authenticity and credibility.

9 Gunew, "Author-Function," 201. Other sources cite him as Serbian. See Livio Dobrez, "What Colour is White? A European experience of Aboriginal Australia," in John Hardy, Stories of Australian Migration (Sydney: NSW Univ. Press, 1988), 125. He is referred to as having been born in Serbia in Gunew and Longley (eds), xiv. In the entry under Sreten Bozic (pseudonym: Wongar, Banumbir), in Sneja Gunew, Lolo Houbeinn, et. al. A Bibliography of Australian Multicultural Writers (Deakin University, 1992), it is claimed that he was born in Gornja Tresnjevica, Yugoslavia.

The issue of whether or not he is trained as an anthropologist is variously noted in terms of his having arrived in Australia via France with a degree in anthropology (Sharrad, 38), and more ambiguously, having conducted several years of anthropological research into Aboriginal creativity (Michael Connor and David Matthews, "In the Tracks of the Reader In the Tracks of B. Wongar," Meanjin 48.4 (1989): 7, 15). Wongar's description of his early writing is indirectly expressed in anthropological terms: "I took notes. I was interested in the oral tradition and the art because of the oral tradition I came from. . . . I was interested in collecting myths. I have published a book of tribal myths. I was also interested in the different languages, in the different art. I spent ten years looking into that. . . . " (Wongar, in Ray Willbanks, Speaking Volumes: Australian Writers and Their Work, Ringwood: Penguin, 1992, 204).

10 Sharrad, 38. For an account of the morphology of the name of the author, see Michel Foucault, "What is an Author?" Language, Counter-Memory, Practice. Ed. Donald F. Bouchard, and trans. with Sherry Simon (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1977) 123.

11 Presumably the name "Stipe Bozic" would have been allowed the status of "choice." though if he had "chosen," for example, "Miroslav Holub," this would have been another name with more than denotative value. His choice to write and publish under the name of Wongar problematizes the "innocence" of its adoption as suggested by the account of its situationally contingent conferral by an Aboriginal "medicine man" to protect him from white authorities (see Wongar in Willbanks, 202). Its ensuing status as a joke at the expense of the authorities further complicates its significations.

12 Some of the ironies surrounding this name - and especially its claim to propriety - are suggested in Wongar's account of how he came by the name: "Once I was sunburned and had a dark bushy beard. I was often on an aboriginal reserve in the North without a permit. I was living with the Aborigines. I was lying down; I had some pain in my chest. A tribal medicine man was chanting over my chest and trying to do a bit of healing. A government supervisor came over. He saw me and realized that I did not belong to that group of people. He asked where I came from, and the medicine man said, "He comes from Wongar." What he was telling the supervisor was that I came from the spirit world, but the supervisor did not understand. He thought I came from a subtribe called Wongar. He said, "When he gets well, tell him to go back to his mob." The Aborigines died laughing because they knew he had told me to go back to the spirit world. My wife started calling me that, and so did the rest of them." Wongar, in Willbanks, 202.

13 Gunew, "Author-Function," 201; 203. Wongar includes the allusion to his Yugoslavian surname, Bozic, among its significations. See Wongar, in Willbanks, 202.

14 The meaning of Wongar's Aboriginal identification may be differentiated from the material implications of Aboriginality for his family in the following account from Willbank's interview with Wongar:

B.W. Politically, things were getting bad. It wasn't good for me as a white to be in the area, to be on the reservation. I had started writing and protesting locally and I was getting known. I had published Aboriginal Myths. I thought I should go down South, find a piece of land and move my family. I went down to Victoria and found some land, and about the time these things were taken care of I learned that my family had been wiped out. They had disappeared in the bush.

R.W. Wiped out?

B.W. The news I got, not from the authorities, but from the tribal people who lived in the area, was that they drank from a water hole which was poisoned, or in some way polluted. The water wasn't fit to drink, and they died. (Wongar and Willbanks, in Willbanks), 206.

15 Willbanks, 203, 204.

16 Ken Gelder and Paul Salzman, The New Diversity: Australian Fiction 1970-88. Melbourne: McPhee Gribble, 1989, 238; also citing Drewe, 2-3.

17 Sneja Gunew, "Denaturalizing Cultural Nationalisms" in Homi K. Bhabha, ed., Nation and Narration (London: Routledge, 1990), 18 (note). Wongar has given an account consistent with this, adding the (explanatory?) detail that he is uncertain who his mother was. See Willbanks, 202.

18 Mita, 4.

19 Judith Dale, "the bone people: (Not) Having It Both Ways," Landfall 156, 39:4, (1985), 413.

20 Stead, 103.

21 Margery Fee, "Why C.K. Stead Didn't Like Keri Hulme's the bone people: Who Can Write as Other?" Australian and New Zealand Studies in Canada, No. 1 (Spring 1989): 12.

22 Gunew, "Author-function," 206.

23 Connor and Matthews, 715.

24 He is included in A Bibliography of Australian Multi-Cultural Writers, and in Striking Chords: Multi-Cultural Literary Interpretations, but states "I don't regard myself as a European writer" (Wongar, in Willbanks, 210).

25 Gunew "Denaturalizing," in Bhabha, ed., 113.

26 Gunew, "Author-Function," 202. By contrast, see Sharrad, where it is suggested that "No doubt his position as a migrant writer has given him special insights into the life of Aborigines" (48).

27 Sneja Gunew, "Migrant Women Writers: Who's on Whose Margins?" Meanjin 42.1 (1983): 16-26.

28 See Sneja Gunew, "Theoretical Perspectives," in Gunew and Longley, eds., 38.

29 Stead, 103.

30 Stead, 104. This review was written following the award for The Bone People of the Pegasus Award for Maori Literature, and before that novel won the Booker prize.

31 Gunew, "Author-Function," 202.

32 Shona Smith, in the interview, "Keri Hulme: Breaking Ground," Untold 2 (Spring, 1984), argues: "If we agree that there is no one typical woman . . . then we may embrace Kerewin Holmes as a woman rendered both living and realistic by the skill of her creator," 44; conversely, Agnes-Mary Brooke claims: "Nothing is ordinary about this woman."

33 Wongar, in Willbanks, 207.

34 Sharrad, 42-3.

35 Gunew, "Author-Function," 208. This recalls Foucault's observation that "Speeches and books were assigned real authors . . . only when the author became subject to punishment and to the extent that his discourse was considered transgressive." See Foucault, "What is an Author?" 124.

36 Gunew, "Author-Function," 208.

37 Fee, 12.

38 Stead, 101.

39 Webby, 16.

40 Hulme, n.p.

41 Brooke, The Press, 7 September, 1986.

42 Mita, 4.

43 Stead, 101.

44 Sigmund Freud, "The Uncanny", in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, volume XVII (1917-1919), trans. James Strachey in collaboration with Anna Freud (London: The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, 1955), 241. See also 220-225 for an unraveling of the various meanings and etymological links of

"heimlich" and "unheimlich."

45 Bob Hodge and Vijay Mishra, Dark Side of the Dream: Australian Literature and the Post-Colonial Mind (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1991) 72-3.

46 Freud, 237.

47 Julia Kristeva, Strangers to Ourselves, trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991) 182.

48 Kristeva, 191-2.

49 Gayatri Spivak, "Can the Subaltern Speak?" in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, eds., Gary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988), p. 271-2; see also Simon During, "Postcolonialism and Globalization," Meanjin 51.2 (Winter 1992): 50.


New: 7 January, 1997 | Now: 15 April, 2015