Australian critical race and whiteness studies association journal
Place of publication
This paper discusses Michel de Certeau’s theories of spatialised power and of resistance, especially his characterisation of what he describes as ‘tactics’ by which marginalised groups resist the strategies by which those in power gain and maintain control, in relation to a group of settler society picture books: Edna Tantjingu Williams, Eileen Wani Wingfield and Kunyi June-Anne McInerney’s Down the hole (2000); the Papunya School Book of Country and History (2001); Chiori Santiago and Judith Lowry’s Home to Medicine Mountain (1998); George Littlechild’s This Land Is My Land (1993); and Allen Say’s Home of the Brave (2002). These texts thematise colonial and assimilationist policies in Australia, Canada and the United States which required that racialised groups of children should be removed from their homes and families and placed in institutions. I argue that the first four of these texts position child readers both to understand the dislocation and pain caused by government policies such as those which enforced the removal of the Stolen Generation in Australia, and to appreciate the tactics of resistance by which children evaded or subverted institutional power. Home of the Brave deploys the symbolism of an adult’s journey into the past to show how strategies of repression serve to protect individuals and nations from shame and guilt, and demonstrates the transformative effects which result when the past is scrutinized.
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