Stephen Muecke

In 1985, following the publication of their collaborative works Gularabulu: Stories from the West Kimberley and Reading the Country: Introduction to nomadology (with artist Krim Benterrak as co-author), Paddy Roe, possibly sensing that the young researcher would be of critical importance to his life’s project, suggested to Stephen Muecke that there needed to be a third book, The Children’s Country, about the rayi – the spirit children – and for human children to come. Muecke writes that he was unable to deliver the book at the time. Roe went on to establish the Lurujarri Heritage Trail following a songline along a ninety-kilometre stretch of coastline from Minyirr (Broome) to Minarriny (Coulomb Point).

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If it is the case that we can no longer avoid the effects of living under conditions of globalisation, then increasingly that spatial dimension governs our lives. Look not, therefore, deep into the history of our individual nations or localities to explain what is going on, but lift your eyes to the horizon, and beyond, where a devastated city may be smouldering. Within minutes, a local politician will be warning us that we may be next.

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Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines by David Unaipon, edited and introduced by Stephen Muecke and Adam Shoemaker

by
December 2001–January 2002, no. 237

Most of us are familiar with an image of David Unaipon, clean-shaven, neatly dressed, gazing steadily beyond the spatial dimensions of our $50 note. He wears a tie, and the collar of his shirt is evenly turned. Over his right shoulder is the little church at Raukkan; floating over his left are three of his inventions, including the shearing handpiece that no one would lend him the money to patent. And there is his signature, underneath the words: ‘As a full-blooded member of my race I think I may claim to be the first – but I hope, not the last – to produce an enduring record of our customs, beliefs and imaginings.’

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George Seddon is well-known as an environmentalist and academic. Western Australian readers will remember in particular his Sense of Place (1972). He is currently an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Studies in Australian Literature at the University of Western Australia and Emeritus Professor in Environmental Science at the University of Melbourne.

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Stephen Muecke’s Textual Spaces offers both new material and versions of some of the essays he has published on Aboriginal and cultural studies published through the 1980s. Many of these have already been very influential, but the welcome appearance of the book invites consideration of the continuities in Muecke’s arguments, the programme they suggest.

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Literary theory is in for an exciting time in Australia. While the Leavisites in the older English departments were wondering what happened to the British ‘Great Tradition’, literary studies went General and Comparative in the 1960s, establishing a fertile context for the development of genuine theoretical developments such as those brought about by the encounter with structuralism, phenomenology and Marxism.

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