The paradoxical taboo : white female characters and interracial relationships in Australian fiction

Hughes, Carolyn Mary. (2004). The paradoxical taboo : white female characters and interracial relationships in Australian fiction PhD Thesis, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Hughes, Carolyn Mary.
Thesis Title The paradoxical taboo : white female characters and interracial relationships in Australian fiction
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies and Art History
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2004
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Whitlock, G.
Total pages 83
Collection year 2004
Language eng
Subjects L
420202 Australian and New Zealand
420303 Culture, Gender, Sexuality
751001 Languages and literature
Formatted abstract This thesis looks at how white female characters and interracial relationships are represented in Australian fiction by white Australian writers. I also look at how these representations reflect critically on racial boundaries, played out in the way the interracial relationship is often a positive experience for the white female character, but detrimental for the black male character. The trajectory the white female character takes is often a confirmation of how interracial relationships are used in fiction as a transgression that produces redemption and recentres whiteness. The interracial relationship is used by writers in these fictions as both an exotic sexual encounter (with its aura of taboo) and an act of anti-racism in defiance of that taboo. However, these writers have difficulty in imagining these relationships as anything but a marginal and temporary experience that gives the white female character some kind of redemption, or reconciliation of settler guilt. This thesis argues that these representations are an effect of dominant discourses regarding race.

This thesis also looks at how these fictions fail to recognise white privilege as a part of Australian race relations as a further effect of dominant discourses. This manifests in part through the white female character's identification with oppression through intimacy with a black male character. This is redemptive because it gives a sense of having "known" oppression and therefore avoids looking at the power relations that have persisted since dispossession, since this experience is something that is perceived as knowable by the white self. Ruth Frankenberg has noted this dynamic, where a white woman's identification with the Other in an interracial relationship may obscure "what it means to be part of a cultural and racial group that is dominant and normative" (1993, 230), thus eliding recognition of structural inequalities. Obscuring one's place in racial dominance gives these characters a false (and therefore sometimes temporary) sense of release from race-related guilt.
Keyword Fiction--Australian

 
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Created: Fri, 24 Aug 2007, 18:38:03 EST