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Reading Suvendrini Perera’s Australia and the Insular Imagination

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Stratford, E and McMahon, E and Jackson, M and Farbotko, C and Suvendrini, P (2011) Reading Suvendrini Perera’s Australia and the Insular Imagination. Political Geography, 30 (6). pp. 329-338. ISSN 0962-6298

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Abstract

It was Achille Mbembe (2003) who avowed that geography was never intended to be equal. Sustained engagement with Suvendrini Perera’s richly evocative, intellectually provocative, and critically important intervention in the borderlands between cultural studies and geography underlines his observation. Australia and the Insular Imagination will resonate deeply with readers of Political Geography, since both are concerned with the complex interrelationships between power and space. Most obviously, Perera’s work is about “sea, land, nation, and the spaces between”; it is about “their conjunction in a specific formation, the island”; and, in particular, it is about the ways in which the island configures and shapes “territorial nationalism in Australia, the island-continent” (p. 1). Note the definite article here: this is Australia as monolith: insular, singular, inviolable. Yet, data from Geoscience Australia (2010) suggest this island-continent is, in fact, some 8222 islands, islets and rocky outcropsdan archipelago. Of such geographical formations, Baldacchino, Farbotko, Harwood, McMahon, and Stratford (2011, p. 6) note that they are “not essential properties of space but instead are fluid cultural processes, ‘abstract relations of movement and rest’, dependent on changing conditions of articulation or connection”. In many ways, Perera’s book is a challenge to the ‘monologicality’ of the island and an invitation to consider this other, processual political geographydan archipelagic world. Here, for Perera, may be a “starting point for alternative historical understandings that ‘should alleviate those fears that serve to deepen our isolation, and worse, our racist instincts’” (p. 100, following Dunn).

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Political Geography
Page Range: pp. 329-338
ISSN: 0962-6298
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2011.06.001
Additional Information: The definitive version is available at http://www.sciencedirect.com
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2011 02:32
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:22
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/11814
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