There's no place like home : unhomely moments in three postcolonial picture books
Bradford, Clare 2003, There's no place like home : unhomely moments in three postcolonial picture books, in ACLAR 2001 : Cinderella transformed: multiple voices and diverse dialogues in children's literature : Proceedings of the 2001 Australasian Children’s Literature Association for Research Conference, Centre for Children's Literature, Christchurch, N.Z, pp. 104-109.
Australasian Children’s Literature Association for Research Conference
Centre for Children's Literature
Place of publication
One of the principal strands of postcolonial theory and critical practice is the interrogation of received versions of colonial history. This paper investigates the extent to which three contemporary picture books, Gavin Bishop's The House that Jack Built, John Marsden and Shaun Tan's The Rabbits, and Thomas King and William Kent Monkman's A Coyote Columbus Story, mobilise postcolonial strategies in their representations of place. In particular, it focuses on how postcolonial textuality unsettles and transgresses notions of "homeliness" in narratives involving the displacement of colonised and colonising peoples. As the shifting power relations of colonialism render unhomely what has previously been homely (especially for colonised peoples), so they involve a contrary move in which unhomely spaces are changed into simulacra of lost or abandoned homes. Drawing upon Walter Benjamin's formulation of materialist historiography, Homi Bhabha describes what he terms 'the unhomely moment' as that in which personal and psychic histories intersect with the violent dislocations of colonialism. This paper will argue that such unhomely moments shape the visual and verbal narratives of The House that Jack Built, The Rabbits and A Coyote Columbus Story, all of which deal with the trauma which occurs when cultures previously geographically and psychically distant are brought into close contact with each other. Written to and for children who are citizens of postcolonial cultures, these texts disclose the unease which persists in contemporary societies where colonial histories are rehearsed and revisioned. However, the paper will argue that the three texts position readers in quite different ways; for instance, while the verbal text of The Rabbits constructs an implied author capable of speaking for the colonised and offering readers a very circumscribed subject position, Thomas King's narrative in A Coyote Columbus Story engages in a dialogic playfulness which allows readers to adopt a variety of reading positions. For each text, some key representations of unhomely moments will be considered, and the paper will explore the extent to which they construct forms of temporality which negotiate the space between history and its significances within crosscultural and intercultural formations.
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Field of Research
200508 Other Literatures in English
Socio Economic Objective
970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
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