Who Owns the Map of the World?
The imaginative literary mind is as boundless as it is borderless and bountiful in its way, finding ways of powerfully creating anew the already imagined with the unimagined or unimaginable. Possibly George Orwell had thought something like this when he explained that the imagination was like certain wild animals that do not breed in captivity, and that writers who denied this fact were in effect demanding their own destruction. The dreamlike state of imagining is continuously curious while it shifts and reshapes its positioning and influences. But imagination is never alone. There is a fight going on all day long in the mind of the writer about how to counterbalance the fanciful world of the imagination.
The moral compass governs, asserts its sovereignty and wants you to impose some sense of restraint on flights of fancy. It wants you to be mindful of the reality of what writing ought to be, and to take notice of real or perceived restrictions, responsibilities, expectations that call into question, to take another deeper look about what is going on in your world. It needs you to rein in or realign the imagination, to decrease its force in these continuous arguments and counter-arguments to control the process and risk-taking through each long literary journey.
I am a member of the Waanyi Nation of the lower southern highlands of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Our traditional lands, stories and laws situated in northern Australia lie about 150 kilometres south of the northern coastline on each side of the Northern Territory and Queensland borders. Norman B. Tindale, the Australian anthropologist, archaeologist and ethnologist, in his map of Aboriginal Australia first published in 1974, estimated that Waanyi people held about 25,000 square kilometres of country.
The geographical features of our traditional lands are savannah grasslands, arid-zone forests and ever-flowing, spring-fed rivers covered with water lilies and lined by pandanus, palms and figs. The land can be stilled with great atmospheric quietness while the landscape dances dreamlike in mirages, or the stillness is moved with light breezes rattling the songs of the dry grasses while brolgas dance and call their story of country, and fires burn. Then the wind blows columns of dust stories that reach far into the sky. Heat sizzles with the voices of ancestral spirits before the skies grow heavy with massive storm clouds and mighty thunderstorms scream through the atmosphere, and rain floods the rivers that are replenished with stories flowing with fish, mussel and turtle.
There are highly important sacred story places on Waanyi country such as the home of Boodjamulla the Rainbow Serpent, and the Serpent that lives down in Duwadari waterhole in the Lawn Hill Gorge—the whole area is collectively known as Mumbaleeya, or Rainbow Serpent country. Boodjamulla has great powers, and this is respected in Waanyi laws because he created the deep gorge and now keeps the waterholes full of water to keep his body wet, and if he ever leaves, the waterholes will dry up. There are many other powerful spiritual beings of ancestral travelling law stories and sacred sites that include Jumburuna (Yellow Goanna), Bujarda (Piebald Snake), Bujimala (Rainbow Snake), Warrgi (Dingo), Bardagalinya (Red Kangaroo), Wirrigajigaji (Catfish) and Marrarrabana (Water Girls), Flying Fox and Wild Dog Dreamings.
Some of the major story tracks of the spiritual ancestral beings and their laws cross great stretches of northern Australia, and link Waanyi with other Aboriginal language groups to Central Australia or beyond to southern Australia, or across the continent. The ancient story web is a complete and complex matrix of connectivity to the narratives and territories delineated by the ancestors, and this is what links all Aboriginal people together in the oldest living culture on Earth, and what provides the constancy, balance and consistency of who we are, as the anthropologist and etho-botanist Wade Davis rightly explains in The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World. He quotes the anthropologist W.E.H. Stanner, who described Aboriginal people as being a civilisation that had in a sense defeated history. The everyday thinking of Aboriginal people encompasses the genius and intellect of knowing country from all of the generations that have come before, and this is our traditional cradle-to-the-grave cultural homeland of the mind and spirit.
Our communities talk about caring for and protecting our traditional lands with the right people, and of passing on that knowledge to the children who represent a large proportion of our population. In looking after country today, our people are caring for its wildlife and environment, and using and combining traditional and scientific knowledge in early cool fires to burn the country, for instance, to create early fire-breaks for the late season so the dry grasses that spread over thousands of kilometres do not go up ‘like a tornado’ from a lightning strike of a summer storm.
Our people talk about following the footsteps of elders, of walking on country, of knowing every place and story in it. They say: We are all one mob. One tribe to keep the old knowledge strong. Most of all, our people say that our country is our healing place, our home is here, where we have been since time immemorial.
I believe that our people have great inner strength in spite of more than 200 years of acts of invasion to kill the spirit of our sovereignty, the reality of which continues to cause enormous disarray and upheaval in our civilisation in our never-ending battles for justice. I felt this with a deep intensity while writing the world of my novel Carpentaria, where I felt that I was telling a contemporary story about ourselves to the ancestors. I wanted to capture the knowledge of country of the master geographers and revered ceremonial leaders whom I knew in my earlier nonfiction work Take Power Like this Old Man Here, and who carried thousands of site names in their head—each with a sacred song, a Dreaming and sacred history which they knew in the map they carried in their mind of their traditional country. They lived in all the times of encompassing and intertwining stories, which was similar to how Carlos Fuentes explained Mexico—that all times are important, and no time has ever been resolved. It was both these understandings of time that informed my thinking about how to achieve the authenticity that I was seeking for Carpentaria.
In the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish’s poem ‘The Phases of Anat’, the first line is, ‘Poetry is our ladder to the moon’. There are in Aboriginal culture ancestral stories of sky travel, some that involve types of ladders reaching into the sky country, and about the moon. In our dreams and aspirations, it often feels as though we are reaching for the moon. The editor and translator Munir Akash described Darwish’s poetry as providing his people with a language for their anguish and dreams, and as giving voice to sentiments dear to our very beings, those deep and intimate depths experienced by every exiled human psyche on Earth.
The great achievement of writers such as Mahmoud Darwish is that their deep sense of humanity not only travels far from their homeland; what is in his heart is universally understood. These writers create the human map of compassion. They help us to think more deeply about who we are as people, just as I know that I am continually learning how to understand the complex depth of knowledge that exists in our world through our traditional cultural, spiritual, social and economic sense of place. In the writing of Carpentaria, I wondered about the source of strength that appeared to be so natural in the main characters of the book, and who were inspired by the powerful spiritual and cultural leadership we have in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
I was determined to create a work of authenticity to honour my traditional homeland, and in the writing I began to understand more fully how the powerful spirits of our ancestral homeland were imbued in the soul of our people, who are country itself. This was where true sovereign governance lay, with the ancestors. We are governed by the stories of the ancestral spirits of place in our traditional country. Their strength is in our sovereignty of the mind and spirit, which is like a flashlight swarming with moths, and this became my pathway to understanding the deep cultural depth of who we are in the characters I was creating: people who are comfortable with the gravity of responsibility to country, people and to ourselves, and in our deep understanding that country is always alive and forever powerful, and which, if its deep laws are broken, can turn against us.
As I continue my work as a writer, my passion for exploring and imagining grows, and particularly in the areas of interest for current works. The research I undertook of the world’s swan species was unrestrained and ceaseless for several years while I imagined and wrote about a future world in The Swan Book. I followed swans through many parts of the country and across the world, and through story, poem and epic to find a way to tell the story. Pablo Neruda’s story of the sick swan with its long neck draped around his own neck is etched on my mind, as is Charles Baudelaire’s ‘Le Cygne’, the dirt-engrained swan of Paris, dragging its white plumage over the uneven ground … ‘O water, when then wilt thou come in rain? Lightning, when wilt thou glitter?’
There is an ancient story that includes a swan from the Gubbi Gubbi and Jinibara peoples of the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, where a young woman named Maroochy wept so much for the loss of her beloved partner Coolum, who had been killed by his enemy, that her tears flooded down the mountain and became the Maroochy River, and she transformed herself into a swan to be able to travel up and down the river in search of Coolum’s spirit.
Our storytelling of place continues today along with the layers of the colonial legacy. Most Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in this country continue to be involved in a storytelling war that began two centuries ago with the start of British colonisation. It is an endless battle about who owns the narrative, which is essentially about the ownership of this country, and who has the right to speak for it. The stories that have sprung from the original and ongoing land theft create fear and resentment, because whoever tells the Aboriginal story basically tells the story of who they believe own the land—us, or them.
So, the argument is essentially the same as what other people in the world generally want for themselves, and that is, to be able to tell their own story, to be heard and understood. Our story is whether Aboriginal people have the right to tell or govern their own story and on what terms, or have we relinquished the right to tell the truths about our story. In the history of failed policies still governing the lives of Aboriginal people and controlling the national narrative, the belief is that others will better articulate and tell the Aboriginal story on behalf of Aboriginal people; better than we can tell it ourselves.
In the broader region, we have shared connections through cultural understandings of ancient spiritual relationships and knowledge of the land and sea with our closest northern neighbour, Asia, and our brothers and sisters of the Pacific Islands, and Māori in the south. The broader neighbourhood widens our imaginings of our regional geographical sense of our home in the world. This would seem logical as many Aboriginal families in Australia, particularly in the north, are already ancestrally related to countries throughout Asia, and have close family ties in the Pacific region.
In Aboriginal families with ancestry in China there are, more often than not, lingering mysteries about distant relatives in China whose links were broken a century ago. My literary journey has given me the opportunity to meet and talk to Chinese writers in forums in both countries, and this has helped me to begin to know and imagine this particular cross-cultural space of my ancestry, one that began in the late nineteenth century, and stretches from Waanyi in the Gulf of Carpentaria to the Guangdong Province of southern China.
I began my writing life by being taught by elders in Central and northern Australia who claimed that we have always governed ourselves. These senior custodians have great wisdom and deep knowledge of country, and they teach their young people to think afar, to broaden our horizons, to bring back ideas, visions, imagination, to increase our knowledge so that we can better fight the battles for control of our future. I learnt as a young woman that they expected us to search the world for ideas about how to achieve solutions to questions about our rights as Indigenous peoples. These master story makers, storytellers, story keepers and experts of story practice taught me the joy of reading and writing, even though the books they read were the epic stories held in vast areas of land and desert country where they travelled through stories networking seemingly unremarkable landscapes. But they always intimately knew where they were in their country through story.
What has become clearer to me the more I write is I have been trying to build a self-governing literary landscape from what I have learnt from our ancient library contained in the land, from understanding how we are being continuously shaped by story, and from our knowledge that we have always governed ourselves through the ancestral stories that form our own constitution of sacred laws for this country. I can see that one of my personal challenges has always been to develop a literature more suited to the powerful ancient cultural landscape of this country. It is a journey of being in communication with our own spirits of place, and of imagining our own unique perspective, one that belongs here, and which is the legacy that has been passed down to us through countless generations so that we can know who we are in this place.
The idea of a self-governing literature is not new to the world of writers. W.B. Yeats, for instance, and other Irish writers, worked to build Irish consciousness through Irish literature. What also interests me is the time immemorial Aboriginal legacy that comes with great patience and deep practice by taking the long view in our world-making. It is these self-governing ideas that I would like to see in a literature that is developed from the long view to challenge, and build, powerful world-literary ways to tell the stories of our times. I admire Amitav Ghosh, who in his book The Great Derangement argues that the failure of much of modern literature is that it has been too focused on the individual, or the self, in a baring-of-the-soul; world-as-church literature.
He calls for the decoupling of the human body from its material circumstances and the comfort zone of what is safe and known, and for a literature that thinks in images about the Anthropocene, one capable of working with the uncanniness and improbability, the magnitude and interconnectedness, of the transformations that are now underway. Ghosh also refers to the ecological debt of the Global North to the South that has cumulatively led to the extinction of the forms of traditional knowledge, material skills, art and ties of community that might provide succour to vast numbers of people around the world, and especially to those who are still bound to the land.
It is clear to me through the teachings of our people that collectively we are all the inheritors of a sheltering world that has nurtured the growth of all life on Earth—this planet we collectively call home. Together, we are a combined humanity created from human endeavour to build civilisations that have highlighted our genius for creating the best and worst of human strengths and weaknesses in our combined histories. ‘Piling up in a shelter’ is a line from the great Chinese poet Bei Dao’s poem ‘Landscape’, and his translator David Hinton described the way that Bei Dao created his poetry from the splinters of our civilisation frittering itself away in the ruins of the spirit. We are all the inheritors of inspiration derived from our combined cultural legacies now littering the world with our arts, literature and poetry. All of which I imagine as a shelter through Bei Dao’s fine line of piling up in a shelter.
In these times of the world sitting on the precipice of an uncertain future and our civilisations frittering away in the ruins of our spirit, Indigenous wisdom matters, and recent literature explains why this is important, especially in the literature by Indigenous authors across the world writing about Aboriginal knowledge. Throughout this country, the legacy of Aboriginal cultural knowledge from Aboriginal law is found in the everyday oral stories of our communities, and in our arts and literature, as we collectively reclaim, retell and rewrite our knowledge of ourselves.
The ground-breaking work of Bruce Pascoe, a Bunurong man of the Kulin Nation of south-eastern Australia, in his book Dark Emu, for instance, rewrites pre-colonial history to demonstrate that Aboriginal people have always cultivated this land. A fact that historians had perhaps conveniently overlooked in order to support the lie that the country was terra nullius—land that did not belong to anyone, a view that was only corrected by the High Court of Australia in the Mabo decision in 1992. In the recent work of scientists such as Patrick Nunn in The Edge of Memory, Duane Hamacher’s work in astronomy, along with other scientists working with Aboriginal people, they are using Western knowledge of science to better understand Aboriginal knowledge.
I have talked about our place in the world. I would also like to consider the broader geographies, and how the uses of terms for identifying groups of people in various parts of the world benefit those people who have been divided, and whether these classifications include or exclude, divide, or distract our better thinking, or limit our imagination as writers.
I acknowledge that the meaning of home can be a matter of perspective, depending on the forces of geopolitics and homeland histories. It is also a matter of sovereignty. It matters how you view being corralled into arbitrary divisions of other peoples’ imagination and with decisions that may gladden our hearts or trouble the spirit of our sensibilities about who we are, what we are losing and who we feel we are becoming. It matters how we make sense of our place in our own mind. It matters how people who see themselves as being continuously linked to deep history in their place in the world know how present-day realities and the legacy of colonial histories trouble and blur our vision. Many a crooked road prevents the realisation of your own vision, dead ends and a head full of hazards sway madly through the mind as distractions, but the Aboriginal world insists on seeing ourselves as being self-determined, even while our existence is continuously being undermined by parochial invested interests that are now long established in this country.
The close relationship Aboriginal people have with the land is a deep spiritual interconnected map in the mind. Yet in spite of the facts of geography where we exist south of the equator, or in the eastern region of the world, Australia, now dominated by its global non-Indigenous population, is included in the economic power division of the Global North. It is an erroneous geographic divide of the world into north and south based on world economics. What of the people who are not rich in the north, or the people who are rich in the south? Aboriginal people, with more in common with people deemed to be of the Global South geographically and economically, find ourselves divided from the south, and included in the distant Global North that would know next to nothing about us, and of being separated from the region of our closest northern neighbours.
How should a novelist with my back-ground read this erroneous idea of separatism, and of being rendered invisible to others in the world? Are we not to be thought to exist in all of the realities of the world? Are our stories so irrelevant that we are deemed to be non-existent, or ghosts, and terra nullius to the world?
Should I read our invisibility as a conspiracy in global thinking, another distraction, and should the Australian Aboriginal writer try to beat conspiracy with counter-conspiracy? It is a bit like the American writer Rebecca Solnit’s idea of getting lost, to live in the unknown, to be on what she calls the ‘edge of mystery’—the boundary of the unknown—where, as she puts it, the work of artists and writers is to open doors and invite in prophesies, the unknown, the unfamiliar. This is where the writer’s work comes from, as Solnit explains, to transform the unknown into the known. It seems like a lot of work we need to do to try to be visible to a world that cannot see you, to have to continually go around shaking the chains of your cage as my old friend Tracker Tilmouth of my recent collective memoir Tracker would often say. Or should writers be stealthy like the wise hunter who, by seizing the opportunity of invisibility, captures a worthwhile greater vision while being hidden in the plain sight of the bigotry that induces overarching blindness?
Our communities have many needs, and while it takes a lifetime to grasp the simplest understanding of the deep knowledge that is the soul of Aboriginal culture, we see most Australians still behaving like strangers on our land. But who is to say which people are more important in the world, and if we should use people for economic gain, or destroy their spirit for the common good?
Tim Costello, a former World Vision leader in Australia and a social justice campaigner, laments how this nation no longer understands the notion of the common good or feels any obligation to those in worse circumstances beyond our shores. He criticises policies in Australia that damage ‘our national soul’ and, as a matter of his faith, believes a ‘human is never a means to an end—a means [in the case of refugees] to send a message to people smugglers’. Should I fire a literary cannon at the overwhelming ignorance that renders my culture invisible to all else on Earth as it is often treated here, or do I use this irrelevance to others wisely in our war of creating our own relevance and independence, and is this really what we want or need? The answer may be linked to our story, because our story is linked in the future imagining of a Global North and South divide. We are never alone whether visible or invisible. We are all related and reliant on the only planet in the solar system that we know supports life.
As we move further into what is now called the ‘emergency century’ of the global environmental catastrophe of climate change, with extreme weather events worsening across the world, the world’s governments are still moving at a snail’s pace in dealing with this emergency. The UN’s recently released first global assessment of the natural world in 15 years predicts that as many as one million of Earth’s eight million species of all kinds risk extinction within decades, and that this has dire consequences for all life. Scientific studies now estimate the global temperature will rise by four degrees or even more by 2100, and time is very quickly running out for government action. The climate models on global warming predict that it is highly likely that vast areas of land on the equatorial belt will mostly become uninhabitable, or that people will have great difficulty living in these regions.
Is the world heading for drowned islands, cities and nations; stagnant seas; oceanic dead zones, intolerable heatwaves; entire nations uninhabitable? Are we heading towards the biggest migration of people the world has ever seen with the accompanying walls being built to reject the unwanted? Only the high-latitude areas in the geographical north will be the place to live if you belong there, or in places that are well south in the southern hemisphere. These are the places where the vast majority of humanity will want to live, where agriculture will be possible. It will not be so good if you live in the geographical north where two-thirds of the glaciers that feed many of Asia’s rivers will be lost, and which now supply water to one billion people.
These are some of the most important issues that writers of the world need to grasp—to transform the science into the known, to figure out how to describe these realities, to get into the habit of asking big questions about their homelands, their region, and the world of others on the planet. Think what the Earth needs. What makes a good ancestor? How to think in planetary terms, since scientists warn that we require global cooperation as never before. This is why I believe that political and economic divisions on the planet need to be questioned by the independent writers of the world. How do divisions work? Are they important? Who for, and why? In whose interests?
The Global South is a significant region of the world and its literature grows just as powerful. Yet I am still obliged to ask: Are Aboriginal people, or all indigenous peoples for that matter, and our rich and invaluable knowledge systems tied to our legal estates, destined to remain irrelevant and invisible in how others draw and control the map of the world? The question then is: who owns the map of the world if our traditional estates and knowledge systems are doomed in a globally challenged world of climate change, one where many of us will not be able to survive on our traditional lands in the not too distant future? We do not think of ourselves as irrelevant.
One of the concerns I have about classifications made on behalf of people who have not been consulted is whether or not the classified place their trust in the process. Collectively, is this what creates world peace? Can silence mean acquiescence and agreement? Here in Australia and in many other countries, it is taken for granted that the silent majority who get on with their everyday lives by saying nothing about the political state of the country will be rewarded for their acquiescence and for agreeing to have the government decide, ‘as the shepherd of cradle-to-the-grave materialism’, what is best for the country.
I believe that we lose a part of our soul each time we run towards the assimilatory ideals others impose on our lives without questioning what we are doing, by not taking a deeper look, as the great Nobel laureate in literature Toni Morrison described in Burn This Book. Edward Said thought the way to be human on this planet that we all share was that we must be able to tell our own stories. He said, ‘One ought to be able to say somewhere and at length, I am not this “we”, and what “you” do, you do not do in my name.’ We need to think about whether we want to be the co-opted mythmakers for those who wish to dominate, occupy and control our minds. This is a dangerous form of pragmatism in acquiescence, while needing to balance your storytelling, or in being distracted from telling the stories that are really important in examining who we are, who we represent, how we need to become involved in the most important concerns of our times, in the very survival of the world in which our cultures thrive.
While writers are storytellers who work in the world of mythmaking, so too are the academics who study our works. The media, politicians and governments are in the business of mythmaking too. So I am not sure if those people who are meant to be placed in one classification or another in a planetary divide have simply been classified for the benefit of the classifiers, whose history tells us that they wage most of the wars and divisions in the first place, or whether the divide is suitable for the sea of humanity and the future of the planet. The looking glass is not perfect when we are looking through shards of fear that form many borders.
The writer Henry James once described the imagination of the writer as never limited, and never complete. He described the conscious mind as being capable of immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, catching every airborne particle in its tissue. Writers today have an even wider and more wondrous capacity for world consciousness, which is like that imaginary floating web but now encompassing the world. The goal should not be to suffocate the world by trampling on the web, but to let it float freely so that the vibrations we set up in one part of this enormous web can vibrate freely through the whole.
My concern about classifications is whether they serve the purpose of corralling and tethering the reins tighter on the classified, creating more uncertainty for possibly 80 per cent of the world’s population living on very little. This raises the question of how those classified in the lower end of the scale might use their planetary classification to control their own destiny.
As an independent writer in every sense of the word, I oppose straitjackets of any kind: all that limits, confines and degrades humanity. There is no world scheme that I fit into, and this means I do not want to be limited to or by other peoples’ models or world views. My framework is open-ended, to be able to visit my imagination unimpeded, to live in the sovereignty of my own mind where I own my own thoughts.
I want no restraints in my mind while roaming freely and exploring endless realities, where the pursuit of knowledge is necessary to be in the world, to try to respond to our times. I have always understood this from the grounding in cosmopolitan thinking of our elders to seek widely in forming a consensus, but also from how I saw my wonderful storytelling grandmother’s embrace of the world when I was a child. She did not know how to read or write, but she helped me to be literate in other ways of thinking and imagining. Her perspective and world view were broad and cosmopolitan in an outlook that teaches the benefits of having an openness to the world, and of being attuned to a spiritual understanding of the environment and having self-knowledge. She saw the world anew and marvellous on a constant basis. I think she helped me to know how to build an internal world of visualisation and exploration, and perhaps the endurance for holding on to a vision, and perhaps this is the great gift of cultural teachers like my grandmother, and which I think helped me to create a novel such as The Swan Book.
Our elders sought their own knowledge from a wide range of communications to develop their philosophical outlook on issues affecting our world, in order to remain standing. In a way, this was how Carlos Fuentes explained something similar about the relevance of people wanting to preserve their cultural heritage in Latin America, which is what we have created with the greatest joy, the greatest gravity and the greatest risk. Like millions of others on the planet who in spite of our politicians find ways of enduring, this is also what Fuentes once asked about Latin America: Why have our artists and writers been so imaginative and our politicians so unimaginative?
This is why I believe that being a writer today requires a willingness to be part of the wider literary conversations taking place in literature across the world. We need to be part of the much broader neighbourhood of writers, and willing to explore below the surface of things, to dig further and harder with the ‘squat pen’ metaphor, as Seamus Heaney explained what he was setting out to do with poetry in Ireland. In belonging to an international literary landscape, we have the freedom to learn from all writers from our position in the world. A global sense of belonging is perhaps about not being aligned and glued to certain ideas and ideologies, but to be able to look broadly, even though I know how hardwired I am to focusing on, and opposing injustices and human suffering wherever I see them, and any form of suffering in the natural world or destruction of its natural places. But is this not the legacy we carry in our bones from the wisdom of our ancestors?
Writers are a combined force who influence each other through our works to negate frontiers, as the American-Nigerian writer Teju Cole recently described as the work of literature. We carry others across the limits placed on imagination in our imaginary world-building, and carry each other across the frontiers of imagination the more we find and read each other’s works across the world. Yet we will need to be greater visionaries in the creation of our literary universes. We must find ways to extend the emotional human map of the world to include the interconnected cycles of all life that help this planet to breathe. This is the foundation on which to build a self-governing world literature.
Note: This is an edited version of a paper delivered to the World Literature Association, Third Congress: World Literatures of the Global South at the School of Languages and Culture at the University of Sydney in August 2019. •
Alexis Wright is a member of the Waanyi nation of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the author of the prize-winning novels Carpentaria and The Swan Book. Her most recent book, Tracker, was awarded the 2018 Stella Prize. She holds the Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature at the University of Melbourne.
 George Orwell, ‘The Prevention of Literature’ (1946), in George Orwell, Essays, Penguin, 1994, p. 340.
 Paul Tacon, ‘Rainbow Colour and Power among the Waanyi of Northwest Queensland’, Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 2008.
 David Trigger, ‘Change and Succession in Australian Aboriginal Claims to Land’, in P.G. Toner (ed.), Strings of Connectedness: Essays in Honour of Ian Keen, ANU Press, 2015.
 Wade Davis, The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, UWA Publishing, 2009, pp. 152–7.
 Alexis Wright (comp. and ed.), Take Power, Jukurrpa Books, Alice Springs, 1998, p. 205.
 Carlos Fuentes, A New Time for Mexico, Bloomsbury, London, 1997.
 Mahoud Darwish, Unfortunately, It Was Paradise, trans. and ed. Munir Akash and Carolyn Forche with Sinan Antoon and Amira El-Zein, University of California Press, 2003 and 2013.
 Mahoud Darwish, The Adam of Two Edens, ed. Munir Akash and Daniel Moore, Jusoor and Syracuse University Press, New York, 2000, p. 25.
 Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement, University of Chicago Press, 2016, pp. 73, 128, 158 and 161.
 Bei Dao, Forms of Distance, trans. David Hinton, Anvil Press Poetry, 1994, p. 57.
 Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Canongate Books, Britain, 2017, p. 5.
 Maria Millers, ‘The Election Was a Seinfeld Experience: On the Recent Result of the Federal Election in Australia’, Emerald Messenger—Hills Community Journal, July 2019, p. 35.
 Tim Costello, ‘It has damaged our national soul’, The Weekend Australian, 27–28 July 2019.
 Andri Snær Magnason, ‘The glaciers of Iceland seemed eternal. Now a country mourns their loss’, Guardian, 14 August 2019.
 Gaia Vince, ‘The heat is on over the climate crisis. Only radical measures will work’, Guardian, 18 May 2019.
 Mark McKenna, ‘Scott Morrison’s quiet Australians: Just how silent does Morrison want Australians to be?’, The Monthly, July 2019, p. 10.
 Toni Morrison, ‘Peril’, in Toni Morrison (ed.), Burn this Book, HarperCollins, New York, 2009, p. 4.
 Edward Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, Columbia University Press, New York, 2003, p. 80.
 Carlos Fuentes, The Buried Mirror, Mariner Books, New York, 1999, pp. 9 and 353.
 Teju Cole, ‘Carrying a Single Life: On Literature and Translation’, New York Review of Books, NYR Daily, 5 July 2019.