Othering Nature in the Australian Novel: Postcolonial Ecocritical Reading of Kate Grenville’s The Secret River and Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance
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This thesis aims to discuss the destructive impact of British imperialism on colonised lands and its inhabitants through Kate Grenville’s The Secret River (2005) and Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance (2010) within the scope of postcolonial ecocriticism theory. The anthropocentric discourses of the colonial mind-set not only controlled the social, cultural, and economic aspects of the colonies, but also dominated their natural environments and destroyed the balance of their ecosystem. Anthropocentrism, which is an ideology that has a tendency to ‘other’ natural environments by claiming the superiority of humans, justified the colonisers’ manipulation of nature in order to gain economic profit. Pertaining these issues, postcolonial ecocriticism theory aims to analyse the impact of European imperialism and the anthropocentric discourses on non-white people and their environments. Within this context, Australia, as a settler colony, provides powerful material on this subject. Both the Australian land and the Aboriginal people were relentlessly subjected to the anthropocentric discourses and the colonial ideologies. Both The Secret River and That Deadman Dance emphasise the human induced hazards to nature, which stem from the settlers’ desire for economic profit. Kate Grenville, as a white Australian, illustrates the settler side of history and the errors in her ancestors’ ideologies. Kim Scott, on the other hand, highlights the Aboriginal side of history as an Australian Noongar himself. Although the ancestries of these two novels’ authors are different, their main concern is similar. It is emphasised in both of the novels that the white settlers biologically and environmentally expanded through hunting, agriculture, clearing forests, planting foreign seeds and infectious diseases, while disturbing the balance of Australia’s nature for the sake of their own economic and political advantages, which eventually led to the ‘othering’ of nature and its inhabitants.