Ruination and Recollection: Plumbing the Colonial Archive
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In this chapter I hope to draw out the tangle of memory, history, and affect that accrues in settler colonial places, turning to the Mid West region of Western Australia as a case study. In this place, my personal historyand that of my family’s migration to Australia intersect with a larger narrative of clearing the landscape for European settlement, and a body of cultural production that attempts, uneasily, to make sense of the settler’s relationship to such places. I contend that the experience of occupying rural places in Australia is generative of a particular sensibility towards settler colonial space that is rooted in ambivalence. This anxious relationship to place is characteristic of the non-Indigenous, white settler colonial subject; it is an experience beset by contradictory impulses of nostalgia and anxiety, a struggle between the cultural memory of colonial perpetration and the imperative to forget or disavow this past by displacing it defensively onto the landscape. As a range of scholars have discussed, this fraught relationship of the settler to the ‘second world’ space of Australia has a history of, and continues to be envisaged through, Gothic motifs of ruin, enclosure, transgression, and cursed inheritance (McLean 1993; Ng 2007; Scott and Biron 2010; Turcotte 1998).
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