This article examines how the structural necessities of serialised periodical fiction reinforced representations of settler and Aboriginal mobilities for Australian readers across the nineteenth century. It combines recent work on Indigenous mobility studies with Jude Piesse’s articulation of the periodical as an ‘inherently mobile form’ (2) to explore how ‘imaginations of mobility’ in popular cultural forms such as the serial helped ‘inform judgements’ about Aboriginal peoples and their practices for settler readerships (Cresswell 2). Rather than attempting to discern and catalogue the almost inexhaustible range of ‘serial patterns’ at play in the colonial archive, I foreground the ‘mechanisms of containment’ inherent in the form and narrative structure of the serial itself (Turner, ‘Serial’ 196, 205). More specifically, I suggest that through their representations of Aboriginal persistence and mobilities certain serials can resist ‘the very modern concept of advancement, of moving forward’ (Turner, ‘Periodical’ 184) that periodicals – and emerging narratives…
Aboriginal Mobilities and Colonial Serial Fiction
This article combines Indigenous mobility studies with recent work on seriality and periodical form to examine how the structural necessities of serialised periodical fiction reinforced representations of settler and Aboriginal mobilities for Australian readers across the nineteenth century. It considers the limits or gaps in the project of Australian settlement that these serial texts highlight through an exploration of how settler authors formulated ideologically acceptable and more ‘suspect’ manifestations of Aboriginal mobilities and persistence. Building upon Katherine Bode’s work in World of Fiction (2018) on Aboriginal presence in nineteenth-century Australian periodical fiction, this article considers how the structure of the serial itself worked to reinforce – and occasionally disrupt – perceptions of Aboriginal-settler frontier violence and white supremacy. It also explores moments of settler discomfort and unsettlement in these serial texts that operate as counterpoints to the larger imperatives of this periodical fiction to support and reinforce the colonial project. By aligning the disruptive potential of these serial narratives and their representations of Aboriginal and settler mobilities, I argue we can uncover moments when these texts appear to resist the rhetoric of forward momentum and advancement traditionally associated with narratives of colonial modernity.
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Published 30 April 2021 in Volume 36 No. 1. Subjects: Periodicals, Settler colonialism, Aboriginal mobilities, Settler mobilities, Katherine Bode, Frontier violence, Mobility studies, 19th Century Serials.