Cultural Pathology: What Ern Malley Means


Aftershocks from the conflicts that shaped Australian poetic culture in the 1940s can be faintly discerned even today. One influential element of the 'legend of the '40s', for example, the Jindyworobak movement, is the source of an evolutionary strain in Australian cultural theory that some writers continue to draw on in their redefining of national culture in relation to questions of race. What began as an attempt to 'Australianise' writing and culture betrayed itself soon enough, as the name suggests - Jindy-worobak: to annex or join - as another form of (white) symbolic violence. As subsequent debates about Aboriginality and writing were increasingly framed by Aboriginal writers themselves, and influenced by developments in ethnographic knowledge and postcolonial theory, the depoliticising, neo-colonialist tendencies of Jindyworobak, and its romanticising of Aboriginal culture - turning it into an Arcadia, free of the 'spectres of death and dispossession' - were exposed (lndyk 358).

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Published 1 May 1995 in Volume 17 No. 1. Subjects: Australian culture, Australian literary history, Ern Malley Hoax, Jindyworobaks.

Cite as: Mead, Philip. ‘Cultural Pathology: What Ern Malley Means.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 17, no. 1, 1995, doi: 10.20314/als.00e0b304bc.