Australia and the Insular Imagination: Beaches, Borders, by S. Perera

By S. Perera

Such a lot experiences of Australia start with the “the island-continent.” the encircling oceans are little greater than a backdrop for the dramas that ensue on dry land. this is often the 1st ebook to show its awareness to the oceans and coastlines that make and remake the boundaries of Australia via occasions corresponding to the arriving of asylum seekers’ boats, the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Bali bombings and maritime peacekeeping missions within the Pacific. opposed to the imperatives of warfare, safety, relief and catastrophe, quite a few configurations of our bodies, boats, borders and shorelines testify to the facility and the boundaries of Australia’s insular illusion.   

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50 Capp achieves a state of security, a recentering of the self that brings her home again as an Australian subject. This reconsolidation of self and home, involving a re-orientation from Europe to the Pacific, from land to sea, needs to be situated in a number of interconnected geographies. Primarily, it repositions Australia from its place at the ends of the earth, on the edge of civilization. The early Australian novelist Henry Handel Richardson titled one of her novels Ultima Thule, “All the Water in the Rough Rude Sea” 45 figuring Australia as the mythical uttermost island of western imagination.

Phase three is reached through an almost invisible compromise with apathy. Australians, ever ready to play, have forgotten how to engage in seriousness. A lack of seriousness is an invitation for all kinds of fundamentalisms to fill what is considered a moral gap. Everywhere, he sees the constructionist idea of nationalism turned back into patriotic essentialism with its racialistic landscape and its attendant agon. ” Rewriting the geo-graphy of the island-continent is an act of ideological unmaking, and simultaneously an attempt to intervene in the “moral gap” produced by territorial, and terrestrial, fundamentalisms.

The most famous expression of England as an island is John of Gaunt’s speech in Shakespeare’s Richard II, a passage singled out by Schmitt as “the best and most beautiful expression of . . ”12 . . 14 England, envisioned as a unified island state that imaginatively already has overrun the territorial boundaries of Scotland and Wales, is situated in a spatial order that is not only regional and global, but simultaneously moral and cosmological. Yet, taken in its entirety, the speech is more reproachful than celebratory; its final lines deliver a stark warning about the threats that imperil England’s sovereignty.

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