Caught in-between: Mudrooroo's vexed deconstruction of Australianness

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Renes, CM 2010, 'Caught in-between: Mudrooroo's vexed deconstruction of Australianness', Proceedings of the 34th AEDEAN Conference, Almeria, Spain, 11-13 November.


The issue of Aboriginal ‘authenticity’ that the well-known Australian author and academic Mudrooroo became entrapped in politicised the Australian identity debate tremendously at the close of the nineteen-nineties. The questioning of some public figures’ Indigenous ancestry was part and parcel of the backlash against the Aboriginal minority under conservative Federal tenure, and Mudrooroo was undoubtedly its most emblematic target. Unable to substantiate his claim to Indigenous descent, he was forced to relinquish his position as an Aboriginal referent in the identity debate, and to move to and 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 the debate on 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 how Mudrooroo’s latest fiction formulates his vexed response through the employment of the vampire Gothic as Derridian spectrality.