Colonialism, Racial Violence and Loss: The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith and The Roving Party

Abstract

Thomas Keneally’s The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972) and Rohan Wilson’s The Roving Party (2011) resonate with the violence of the colonising process. The books relate, respectively, to murders that took place in New South Wales in 1901 just prior to Federation, and in Tasmania during the 1820s. Both novels employ elements of the Gothic mode to represent social disorder, and equate systematic racism with the mechanics of moral corruption in a hostile colonial environment. In their efforts to make sense of the past each, in its own way, has something to say about how opportunism and upward social mobility are linked to the possession of whiteness. Each taps into an historical frame of reference in which whiteness is understood, not simply as skin colour, but as something essential to the founding vision of Australia as a nation.

The full text of this essay is available to ALS subscribers

Please sign in to access this article and the rest of our archive.

Not a member? Subscribe now from only $24/year

Published 30 May 2015 in Volume 30 No. 1. Subjects: Colonialism & imperialism, Colonialism & imperialism - Literary portrayal, Tom Keneally, Wilson, Rohan.

Cite as: Clark, Maureen. ‘Colonialism, Racial Violence and Loss: The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith and The Roving Party.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 30, no. , 2015. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.6e81ed9be1.