n English in Africa - The Pain of Unbelonging : Alienation and Identity in Australasian Literature, Sheila Collingwood-Whittick (Ed.) : book review

Volume 35, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0376-8902



is a collection of critical essays dealing with the subject of post-colonial alienation and its role in the construction of identity in contemporary Australasian literature. The collection addresses the writing of a diverse array of authors working within a wide range of literary genres, yet manages to effectively retain its focus on, and development of, the intriguingly-named concept of unbelonging. Perhaps this is because the term itself is wide-ranging. Coined by Germaine Greer, it signifies the ambivalent responses of both autochthonous and settler subjects to the post-colonial context. The negative prefix attached to the word "belonging" signals this ambivalence : settlers recognise their precarious attachment to a land that they have made their own, while indigenes, wrested from and yet remaining in their place of belonging, no longer feel at home. In her well-researched introduction, Sheila Collingwood-Whittick demonstrates the pain of unbelonging as an "endemic existential pathology in the contemporary (post) colonial nations of Australia and New Zealand" (xl). The collection could not have been timelier : the Australian government's recent, long-awaited apology to the Aboriginal peoples attests to the validity of Collingwood-Whittick's claim.

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