Understanding Production, Humour and Political Context through Nice
Coloured Girls (1987) and The Sapphires
How Indigenous Australian history has been portrayed and who has been empowered
to define it is a complex and controversial subject in contemporary Australian
society. This article critically examines these issues through two Indigenous
Australian films: Nice Coloured Girls (1987) and The
Sapphires (2012). These two films contrast in style, theme and
purpose, but each reclaims Indigenous history on its own terms. Nice
Coloured Girls offers a highly fragmented and experimental history
reclaiming Indigenous female agency through the appropriation of the colonial
archive. The Sapphires eschews such experimentation. It instead
celebrates Indigenous socio-political links with African American culture,
‘Black is beautiful’, and the American Civil Rights movements of
the 1960s. Crucially, both these films challenge notions of a singular and
tragic history for Indigenous Australia. Placing the films within their wider
cultural contexts, this article highlights the diversity of Indigenous
Australian cinematic expression and the varied ways in which history can be
reclaimed on film. However, it also shows that the content, form and
accessibility of both works are inextricably linked to the industry concerns and
material circumstances of the day. This is a crucial and overlooked aspect of
film analysis and has implications for a more nuanced appreciation of Indigenous
film as a cultural archive.
Peter Carey's fictions explore the experiences lurking in the cracks of normality, and are inhabited by hybrid characters living in between spaces or on the margins. Carey took a circuitous route into literature and writing. Characterising Carey's stories takes us to the heart of his fictional practice. Most adopt a mixture of narrative modes, a central feature of his writing. In Carey stories, terminal societies trap characters in drive-in movie car parks, or offer the bizarre possibility of exchanging bodies, or generate a counter-revolutionary resistance movement led by fat men. Grouping the stories around themes and issues allows for a fairly comprehensive insight into Carey's shorter works, and provides some key threads for later discussions of the longer fiction. Four of the most significant areas are: American imperialism and culture; capitalism; power and authority; and gender. In Bliss, the hippy capitalists of 'War Crimes' are replaced by the more conventional scenario of hippies versus capitalists. Illywhacker examines twentieth-century Australian history with the savage humour and fantasy of the earlier fiction now placed within an epic framework. Oscar and Lucinda might be termed 'retro-speculative' fiction. The Tax Inspector is Carey's most savage novel to date, and it captures Marx's vision of the ravening effects of capital. The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith marks a return to the overt alternative world-building found in the early stories with their fantastic and fable-like scenarios. The overlap between post-modernism and post-colonialism in Carey has been investigated by a number of critics.
won three of the major Australian literary prizes and was shortlisted for the British Booker Prize.
Illywhacker examines twentieth-century Australianhistory with the savage humour and fantasy of the earlier fiction now placed within an epic framework. The result is a novel with energy, panache and sardonic vision, which mixes family history with satirical fable and fantasy in an abundance of play and arraignment. Like Bliss, Illywhacker transgresses and undermines presumptions of formal continuity and genre coherence: it both entertains
caught him half-way through writing Oscar and Lucinda . His working title was ‘Holy Ghosts’ and the video shows him introducing the book with reference to a faded weatherboard church set on the flood plains of the Bellinger River. Carey used the haunting quality of this image to point out how deeply imbued with Christian culture his life and Australianhistory has been. He has also recalled his originating image envisaging the church coming ‘along the Bellinger River on a barge gliding like a dream into the landscape’. 3 At the same time he recalled that the
As in the case of the major European film industries, Australia's history of filmmaking represented a source of nostalgia, pride and regret for those who sought the rebirth of the national cinema during the 1970s. The standard to which all other national forms of film expression are compared is that of Hollywood, and the American film industry casts an equally long shadow in economic terms. The ideological purpose behind the dominant representations and images of nationhood produced by the Australian cinema is linked to enduring colonial, cultural associations. The stereotypes of Australianness which emerged in early, successful or favoured cinematic representations have entered the consciousness of local and foreign audiences. The Adventures of Barry McKenzie and They're A Weird Mob stressed the contrasting commercial and generic influence of America in Australian cinema. These films depict the solitary Australian either abroad or at home and successful at home and overseas.
Identity is often regarded as something that is possessed by individuals, states, and other agents. In this edited collection, identity is explored across a range of approaches and under-explored case studies with a view to making visible its fractured, contingent, and dynamic features. The book brings together themes of belonging and exclusion, identity formation and fragmentation. It also examines how identity functions in discourse, and the effects it produces, both materially and in ideational terms. Taking in case studies from Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America, the various chapters interrogate identity through formal governing mechanisms, popular culture and place. These studies demonstrate the complex and fluid nature of identity and identity practices, as well as implications for theorising identity.
Australia has little to thank
European invasion for’. 8 In Henry’s
writings, the Imlays drove cattle and sheep ‘unwittingly’ through the ‘wild
and undeveloped’ New South Wales terrain, but they were also apparently regarded as
‘safe’ by the Aboriginal people. 9 In
1967, Henry P. Wellings wrote the Imlays’ entry for the Australian Dictionary of
National Biography , an entry that still stands.
The histories of these two families – and their role in Australianhistory – became intertwined in ways that no one could have
The changing role of migration museums in Australia
into the dominant Anglo-Celtic society into the idea that Australia was a
nation of immigrants, and that therefore its cultural identity was the result
of the rich tapestry woven together by all the different groups that had come
to settle here.
The museum was the result of a recommendation made in the Edwards
report5 into the state of museums in South Australia which recommended
the need for a suite of museums dealing with history. The result was the
South AustralianHistory Trust,6 which had, as part of its remit, an ‘ethnic’
museum. As the name ‘ethnic’ museum
during the war knew more than most of their compatriots, and some wanted to return,
but Australia was not generally perceived as a destination for academics.
In the 1950s Australia had difficulty attracting high-calibre scholars interested
in studying Australianhistory, culture and society. Luring experts in other histories
and cultures to Australian institutions was no easier. Partly this was a bias amongst
US academics. Australia found that it was lower down in the pecking order of host
countries for US Fulbrighters than, say, France, Italy or the UK.9 It
Comparison of the Frontier in
Australia and the United States (Ann Arbor: Michigan State University Press, 1959); F.
Alexander, Moving Frontiers: An American Theme and its Application to AustralianHistory (New York: Kennikat Press, 1969 ); R. Dixon, Writing the Colonial
Frontier: Race, Gender and Nation in Anglo-Australian Popular Fiction, 1875–1914
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995); H. Lamar and L. Thompson (eds), The
Frontier as History: North America and South Africa Compared (New Haven, CT