Spectres of Mudrooroo: a suspended corpo-reality that 'matters'

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Publication details

Renes, CM 2011, 'Spectres of Mudrooroo: a suspended corpo-reality that ‘matters’, European Journal of English Studies, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 45-56.

Abstract available on open access

Peer Reviewed



The racial trouble that affected the well-known ‘Aboriginal’ author and academic Mudrooroo politicised the Australian identity debate at the close of the 1990s. The questioning of the ‘authenticity’ of the Indigenous ancestry of some public figures was part of the backlash against the Aboriginal minority under conservative rule, and Mudrooroo was undoubtedly its most emblematic target. Unable to substantiate his claim to Indigenous descent, he was forced to relinquish his frontline position as an Aboriginal representative in the debate on Australianness, and to move to, and eventually beyond, the margins of Australia's cultural and geographical space. Yet, his fin-de-siècle vampire trilogy represents the author's return to the discursive space of Australianness from a haunted and haunting identitarian non-location. This paper analyses how the Mudrooroo Affair came about, how it was inscribed in determinist notions of race as well as gender and class, and how Mudrooroo's latest fiction has responded to the issue of identity formation through the employment of the Gothic figure of the vampire, engaging with questions of identity politics in ways which resonate with Derrida's work on spectrality.

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