Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-7d684dbfc8-hsbzg Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-09-30T19:38:30.749Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "coreDisableSocialShare": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForArticlePurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForBookPurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForElementPurchase": false, "coreUseNewShare": true, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

15 - Postcolonial writing in Australia and New Zealand

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 January 2012

Ato Quayson
University of Toronto
Get access



A literary history of ‘postcolonial’ Australia and New Zealand is immediately confounded by the question of periodization, since although both ex-colonies long ago achieved formal independence from the British Empire, via Australian Federation in 1901, and New Zealand ‘dominion’ status in 1907, in 2009 the Queen remains the head of both states, and it was only relatively recently that anything like a postcolonial sensibility took root in the literary intelligentsia. As settler societies, whose dominant populations were those of British descent and whose nationalist values were deeply informed by many years of imperial rule, in the decades following their constitutional breaks from empire, both Australia and New Zealand generated literary cultures more properly described as neo-colonial or ‘late’ imperial. That is to say, these literary cultures pursued their objectives within the general structures already determined by British cultural gatekeepers, for the simple reasons that a viable local publishing industry was impossible in Australia until the 1970s and deeply fraught in New Zealand (always the more literate nation) until the 1950s, and that the great mass of published material available in either country was British. There can be little dispute that in the collective effort to establish a national literature, written in the English language but attuned to local realities and rising patriotic passions, each country had already begun, even prior to the politically decolonizing moves of the early twentieth century, to ‘decolonize’ its cultural matrix, to prepare a workable set of discourses, myths, genres and characters adequate to the postcolonial moment and capable of steering a new nation into conscious self-affirmation.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2012

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Agamben, Giorgio. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Heller-Roazen, Daniel, Stanford University Press, 1998.
Ahmad, Aijaz. In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures, London: Verso, 1992.
Allen, Chadwick. ‘Postcolonial theory and the discourse of treaties’, American Quarterly 52.1 (2000).Google Scholar
Ashcroft, Bill, Griffiths, Gareth and Tiffin, Helen, The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-colonial Literature, 2nd edn (London: Routledge, 2002).
Ashcroft, Bill, Griffiths, Gareth and Tiffin, Helen (eds.), The Post-Colonial Studies Reader (London: Routledge, 1995).
Badiou, A. The Century, trans. Toscano, Alberto, Cambridge: Polity, 2006.
Benjamin, Walter. Selected Writings, vol. 4: 1938–1940, ed. Eiland, Howard and Jennings, Michael W., trans. Jephcott, Edmund et al., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.
Bird, Delys, ‘New narrations: contemporary fiction’, in Webby, Elizabeth (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Australian Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2000).Google Scholar
Brett, Judith, ‘Publishing, censorship and writers’ incomes, 1965–1988’, in Bennett, Bruce et al. (eds.), The Penguin New Literary History of Australia (Ringwood, VIC: Penguin Australia, 1988)Google Scholar
Carmichael, Stokely, and Hamilton, Charles. Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America, New York: Random House, 1967.
Casey, Maryrose. Creating Frames: Contemporary Indigenous Theatre 1967–97, St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2004.
Castro, Brian. Birds of Passage, Sydney: George Allen & Unwin, 1983.
Castro, Brian. ‘Making oneself foreign’, Meanjin, 64.4(Dec. 2005).Google Scholar
Castro, Brian. Shanghai Dancing, Artarmon, NSW: Giramondo, 2003.
Clark, Jennifer. Aborigines and Activism: Race, Aborigines and the Coming of the Sixties to Australia, Crawley, WA: University of Western Australia Press, 2008.
Davis, Mike. Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World, London and New York: Verso, 2001.
de Costa, Ravi. A Higher Authority: Indigenous Transnationalism and Australia, Sydney: UNSW Press, 2006.
Frame, Janet. Intensive Care, Wellington: A. H. & A. W. Reed, 1970.
Gilbert, Kevin. Because a White Man’ll Never Do It, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1973; 1994.
Grenville, Kate. The Secret River, Melbourne: Text Publishing, 2005.
Griffiths, Max. Aboriginal Affairs, 1967–2005: Seeking a Solution, Dural, NSW: Rosenburg, 2006.
Gunew, Sneja. ‘Performing Australian ethnicity: “Helen Demidenko”’, in Ommundsen, Wenche and Rowly, Hazel (eds.), From a Distance: Australian Writers and Cultural Displacement, Geelong, VIC: Deakin University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
Hall, Stuart. ‘Minimal selves’, in Appignanesi, Lisa (ed.), Identity: The Real Me: Postmodernism and the Question of Identity, London: Institute of Contemporary Arts, 1987.Google Scholar
Heiss, Anita. Dhuuluu-Yala: To Talk Straight, Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 2003.
Hobsbawm, Eric. Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century, 1914–1991, London: Abacus, 1995.
Huggan, Graham. Australian Literature: Postcolonialism, Racism, Transnationalism, Oxford University Press, 2007.
Jameson, Fredric. ‘Periodizing the 60s’, The Ideologies of Theory, Essays 1971–1986, vol. 2: The Syntax of History, London: Routledge, 1988.Google Scholar
Jameson, Fredric. The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1981, reissued 1986.
Jameson, Fredric. ‘Third World literature in the era of multinational capitalism’, Social Text, 15, (Autumn 1986).Google Scholar
Jameson, Fredric, ‘Periodizing the 60s’, The Ideologies of Theory, Essays 1971–1986, vol. 2: The Syntax of History (London: Routledge, 1988).Google Scholar
Jones, Lloyd. Mister Pip, London: John Murray, 2007
Keneally, Thomas. The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Ringwood, VIC: Penguin, 1973.
Kinsella, John. Contrary Rhetoric: Lectures on Landscape and Language, Fremantle WA: Fremantle Press, 2008.
Kinsella, John. Peripheral Light: Selected and New Poems, Freemantle, WA: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2003.
Lazarus, Neil. (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Literary Studies, Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Miller, Alex. The Ancestor Game, Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2003.
Mitchell, W. J. T.Postcolonial culture, postimperial criticism’, Transition, 56 (1992).Google Scholar
Moorhouse, Frank. The Americans, Baby, Sydney: Vintage, 2008.
Morris, Meaghan. Identity Anecdotes: Translation and Media Culture, London: Sage, 2006.
Muecke, Stephen. ‘Coonardoo 1993’, in Papaellinas, George (ed.), RePublica, 2, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1995.Google Scholar
Nkrumah, Kwame. I Speak of Freedom: A Statement of African Ideology, New York: Praeger, 1962.
Pan, Zijie. ‘The Chinese man in The Ancestor Game’, Southerly, 67.3 (2007).Google Scholar
Robinson, Roger, and Wattie, Nelson (eds.). The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Shadbolt, Maurice. Figures in Light: Selected Stories, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1978.
Slattery, Luke. ‘Our multicultural cringe’, The Australian, 13 September, 1995.Google Scholar
Stead, C. K.Smith’s Dream, Auckland: Longman Paul, 1971.
Teaiwa, Teresia Kieuea. ‘bikinis and other s/pacific n/oceans’, in Hanlon, David L. and White, Geoffrey M. (eds.), Voyaging through the Contemporary Pacific, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000.Google Scholar
Tranter, John. Urban Myths: 210 Poems, St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2006.
Tsiolkas, Christos. Dead Europe, North Sydney: Random House, 2005.
Turner, Stephen. ‘Sovereignty, or the art of being native’, Cultural Critique, 51 (2002).Google Scholar
Wedde, Ian. Georgicon, Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1984.
Wedde, , Ian, , and McQueen, Harvey (eds.). The Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse, Auckland and Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985.
Williams, Yohuru R.American exported Black Nationalism: the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panther Party, and the worldwide freedom struggle, 1967–1972’, Negro History Bulletin, 60.3 (1997).Google Scholar
Winton, Tim. Cloudstreet, Camberwell, VIC: Penguin, 1992.
Wright, Judith, Collected Poems: 1942–1985 (Pymble, NSW: Angus & Robertson, 1994), p.

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats