Proceeding from Australia’s specific situation as a settler colony, this article discusses how the ambivalences and fissures of settler subjectivity shape processes of homemaking. Settler homemaking depends on the disturbance of Indigenous Australians’ homelands via dispossession, exclusion, and genocide, but it equally depends upon the creation of a white settler subject as innocent, entitled, and belonging to what has been called ‘white indigeneity’. The article traces this double disturbance in Peter Carey’s novel True History of the Kelly Gang
(2000). Carey’s rewriting of the iconic Kelly legend uncovers the dangers of a possessive, male, white indigeneity based on effacement and exclusion. The novel’s critical staging of Ned Kelly’s construction of Australia as a home for a new class of ‘natives’ challenges an essentialist white Australianness and its narratives of embattled settlement, independence, mateship, and the Bush. The novel shows that the creation of this national character is based on the denial of Aboriginal ownership and agency. Ned’s narrative of Irish victimhood and his formation of a new sense of Australianness is therefore doomed to repeat the violence, discrimination, and exclusion of colonialism that he seems to decry.
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