Un/settled Geographies: Vertigo and the Predicament of Australia's Postcoloniality

Cambridge Scholars Publishing
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New Voices, New Visions: Challenging Australian Identities and Legacies, 2012, 1, pp. 17 - 37
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In this chapter, I examine the ways in which vertigo, as an affective function of space that also produces spatialising effects, is constitutive of the psycho-geography of Australia's settler colonial and postcolonial culture and identity. I argue that vertigo results from Australia's predicament of postcoloniality and the various efforts of the nation to come to terms with its paradoxical geographical location south of both the West and Asia. By deploying the trope of the South as the means to understand Australia's paradoxical geographical location as a white settler colony on the edge of Asia, I seek to evoke what Paul Carter describes as the 'spatial forms and fantasies through which a culture declares its presence' (Carter 1988, xxii). At the same time, I argue that the South is not simply a historically and geographically constituted site; it is also an evolving cartography. By examining the textual, visual, and affective registers underlying the figurations of the nation across various domains ranging from political rhetoric and cartoons to selected works of artists of Asian origin in Australia the shifting outlines of this cartography will be discerned.
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