By S. Perera
Such a lot stories of Australia commence with the “the island-continent.” the encompassing oceans are little greater than a backdrop for the dramas that happen on dry land. this can be the 1st publication to show its awareness to the oceans and coastlines that make and remake the boundaries of Australia via occasions comparable to the coming of asylum seekers’ boats, the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Bali bombings and maritime peacekeeping missions within the Pacific. opposed to the imperatives of warfare, defense, relief and catastrophe, numerous configurations of our bodies, boats, borders and shores testify to the facility and the boundaries of Australia’s insular illusion.
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Additional info for Australia and the Insular Imagination: Beaches, Borders, Boats, and Bodies
In this writing back to the biogeographical discourse of the uttermost, the Indigenous subject survives as no more than a trace—in the homogenized and commodified figure of the earliest (Hawaiian) surfers.
In the period of empire the relations that Gaunt canvasses—between land and sea, sovereignty and tenantship, Christendom and Jewry, near and far, islands and other kinds of lands—ramify into a complex formation that meshes the topographical and territorial with the racial and ontological. 19 At the same time, as I discuss further below, the topos of the island shapes the ways in which the territorial sovereign state comes to be figured in a new geopolitical order—as impregnable, organic, whole, and indivisible.
Stymied by the land-tensions that persist in following her into the sea, the narrator experiences an inexplicable sense of stasis, a state of psychic impasse that diminishes her returning pleasure in the ocean. The narrative, structured as a series of passages out from Port Phillip Bay, only resumes its upward trajectory when the narrator undertakes an uncertain voyage of her own. In a chapter entitled “The Pacific Solution,” she begins a journey that takes her first to Hawaii—where the official artist recording Cook’s arrival at Kealakekua Bay in 1779 also captured the West’s first visual images of surfers—and then to the recently established surf beaches of France and England.