When the Hairy man Meets Blinky Bill: The representation of Indigenality in Australian Children's Literature.
I am a Kamilaroi woman from Moree and have been living in Newcastle now for ten years. I met Professor John Lester in 1997 while I was completing my Bachelor of Arts Honours. He encouraged me to undertake a PhD. I finally finished it and graduated in 2002.
My PhD thesis examined Australian children's literature and how Indigenous peoples, cultures and issues had been represented by non-Indigenous authors since colonisation. I wasn't just concerned with stereotypical representations but how and why those representations were created, for instance, to justify acts of protection and assimilation. I was also concerned with how non-Indigenous authors only spoke to non-Indigenous child readers, positioning them as future cultural keeps of Indigenous knowledge. A focus of my thesis was the implicit ways in which these Australian children's books spoke about and for Indigenous peoples but never to them. I also wanted to deconstruct the myth that Indigenous peoples have had very little significance in Australian literary traditions, as a major underlying element of Australian literature is the uneasy cognisance non-Indigenous Australians had of Indigenous peoples and their need to either deny or marginalise Indigneous presences.
To finally complete my doctorate was a huge relief but could not have been achieved without the love and support of my Umulliko family, in particular Professor Lester, Associate Professor Nerida Blair and Suzi Cole.
This thesis is to be commended on many levels. Firstly it is a significant and valuable piece of work, considering the role of non-Indigenous authored children's literature in precribing Indigenality while"attempting to "colonise" the child reader"