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Breaking the Fetters and Taking Charge: A Reading of an Aboriginal Woman’s Memoir

Journal: International Journal of English, Literature and Social Science (Vol.7, No. 2)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 325-329

Keywords : Aboriginal; memoir; settler-colonialism; cultural stereotype;

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Twenty-first century Australia is a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic democracy, a developed and prosperous nation. However, it's history of ‘settler colonialism' has its own shades of grey. The original inhabitants of Australia were the Aboriginals who resided in the island territory for about more than 40,000 years till 1788, that is, about 234 years from now. However, their share in the total population of Australia has dwindled to about 2.5%. Even today, they are at the fringes of society, both economically and politically. The mainstream discourse, which is white, male and written from a Euro-centric perspective, brushes under the carpet such inconvenient facts. The dominant narrative presents a much distorted picture of Australian history and culture, eulogizing the colonizers and demonizing the Aboriginals as barbarous heathens who were in dire need of being reformed, civilized, cultured and Christianized. Few Aboriginals, who have managed to ascend the economic ladder take this responsibility of speaking up and revealing their community's story, history, culture and what was and is being done to them. The present paper is a reading of one such memoir by an Aboriginal woman, Am I Black Enough for You? (2012) by Anita Heiss. What is unique about Heiss is that unlike majority of her people, she is educated, urban, economically independent, an academic and an established author. Her predicament is also unique, which is, the accusation from her white peers of false claims to Aboriginal heritage for upward mobility by grabbing government doles for the minorities. The paper is a humble attempt to contest the pervasive cultural stereotype which portrays the Aboriginal race as primitive, backward, illiterate, unhygienic, savage and doomed to extinction. The paper attempts to analyze the historical, social and economic reasons for their post-1788 disadvantageous position. The paper also strives to emphasize that with support from the government and the people, the same Aboriginal race could once again be an engine for nation-building. Moreover, besides demolishing the lies propagated by the colonizers and presenting their own truth, authors like Heiss reach out to the larger community beyond the individual self

Last modified: 2022-05-26 16:35:35