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James Cowan and the white quest for the black self


Rolls, M, James Cowan and the white quest for the black self, Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2001, (1) pp. 2-20. ISSN 0729-4352 (2001) [Refereed Article]


A literary genre is emerging in which Aborigines are cast as the spiritual saviours of the supposedly alienated Western self. One of the most prolific authors writing in this field is the Australian, James Cowan. Through a series of books Cowan moves further and further into the Aboriginal metaphysical realm until at last, he would have his readers believe, he actually enters the Dreaming and becomes an intrinsic part of it. In this article I critically examine these books, focusing on Cowan’s construction of Aborigines and the sorts of claims he makes. I also consider some possible consequences of his particular portrayal of Aborigines. Despite his prominence in this field, and publishers’ claims that he is ‘an internationally respected authority on Australian Aborigines and other indigenous peoples’, his work so far has received little critical analysis.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Indigenous Studies
Research Group:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, society and community
Research Field:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sociology
Objective Division:Indigenous
Objective Group:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and culture
Objective Field:Conserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and culture
UTAS Author:Rolls, M (Dr Mitchell Rolls)
ID Code:23379
Year Published:2001
Deposited By:Riawunna
Deposited On:2001-08-01
Last Modified:2011-08-03

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