Angelaki 26 (2):32-42 (2021)

John Kinsella is an important literary witness to the acknowledgement of native title in Australia, and Indigenous rights more generally. His writings also bear witness to continuing forces of resistance to those rights in Australian society. This paper traces Kinsella’s engagement with the Mabo case, the 1992 legal decision that recognised native title as part of Australian law, and rejected the fiction that Australia was terra nullius at the time of British colonisation. Focusing on “Graphology: Canto 5” and other texts, it argues that Kinsella presents a sustained reflection on the implications and the limits of this decision, in law and in wider cultural understandings and practices, through poetic allusions, paratexts and personal commentary. His writing since the mid-1990s reveals an acute awareness of how imported concepts of property and law are concealed within Western poetic traditions such as pastoral. To counter the effects of this ideology, Kinsella interpolates and appropriates terms from the discourse of property law, juxtaposing them against other ways of understanding and living in the land. In several collections, but especially in Jam Tree Gully, he seeks to develop an ethically reflective account of ownership of land taken from others, critiquing the dominant idea of property and articulating an alternative way of living in the land based on co-existence. The rights of the dispossessed traditional owners are central to a new mode of “writing the land.”
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DOI 10.1080/0969725x.2021.1892384
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Property and Ownership.Jeremy Waldron - 2004 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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