Indigenous Sovereignty and the Crisis of Whiteness in Alexis Wright’s Carpenteria


Discusses Wright's 'foregrounding of whiteness as an object of critique'. 'Carpentaria breaks new ground by making whiteness one of its main subjects and by its sustained, incisive delineation of the internal contradictions of the category. Wright investigates the unstable affects that arise from the contradiction between the dependence of the category on its binary (the racialised other), on the one hand, and its putative coherence and authority, on the other. In tum the novel contrasts the crisis of whiteness—its desperation—with the plenitude of indigenous spiritual, cosmological and historical connectedness with the land and the sea, that is, with indigenous sovereignty. Against the 'groundedness' of indigenous sovereignty, the colonial frontier project of white 'settlement' appears ill-begotten and misguided.'

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Published 1 November 2010 in Volume 25 No. 4. Subjects: Aboriginal Australians, Australian literary criticism, Reader response, Textual analysis, Writer-reader relations, Sovereignty, Alexis Wright.

Cite as: Brewster, Anne. ‘Indigenous Sovereignty and the Crisis of Whiteness in Alexis Wright’s Carpenteria.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 25, no. 4, 2010, doi: 10.20314/als.10d6ac2daf.