Tag Archives: islands

Suvendrini Perera: An Insular State

An Insular State

Thu 02-09-10, 7:30pm

At least since Thomas More’s Utopus founded his ideal state by carving it free, by the use of forced labour, from the continent to which it was bound, the topos of the island, organised by an ontologised division between land and sea, has been central to the geopolitical imagination of western modernity. In his 1998 Boyer lecture David Malouf described island-Australia as the product of an entirely new and uniquely European act of envisioning: When Europeans first came to these shores one of the things they brought with them, as a kind of gift to the land, was something that could have never existed before; a vision of the continent in its true form as an island … And this seems to have happened even before circumnavigation established that it actually was an island … Aboriginal Australians, however ancient and deep their understanding of the land, can never have seen the place in just this way … If Aborigines are a land-dreaming people, what we latecomers share is a sea-dreaming, to which the image of Australia as an island has from the beginning been central (my emphasis). For Malouf island-Australia is the fulfilment of a European (more specifically, English) desire that completes a teleology of colonial desiring: a gift. Reciprocally, insularity is the distinctive gift the colonisers bring to the land: an opening of previously unimaginable ways of seeing and being. This paper explores what is at stake in insularity as a gift of form, at once a topographic and imaginative figure and a political programme, for Australia, the island-continent.

Suvendrini Perera is Associate Professor of Cultural Studies at Curtin University. She completed her PhD at Columbia University, New York, and her B.A at the University of Sri Lanka. Her most recent book is Australia and the Insular Imagination (New York: Palgrave, 2009). A co-edited volume, Enter at Own Risk? Australia’s Population Questions for the 21st Century is forthcoming in 2010.

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Dreaming of islands

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS LiNQ VOLUME 37 2010 – ISLANDS

Dreaming of islands—whether with joy or fear, it doesn’t matter—is dreaming of pulling away, of being already separate, far from any continent, of being lost and alone—or it is dreaming of starting from scratch, recreating, beginning anew.

Gilles Deleuze

Our new issue of LiNQ considers the theme of islands, both metaphorical and real.  Deleuze’s contemplation of islands is just one view—and a Western and Northern Hemisphere one at that.  Southern islands, both in the South Pacific, in South East Asia, and connected to this island continent need not be part of this frame. Joanna Murray-Smith, Dorothy Cottrell, E.J. Banefield, Randolph Stow, Oodgeroo Noonuccal are writers all linked powerfully in the public imagination with particular islands.  There are many hundreds of islands central to our region in the archipelago of the Great Barrier Reef alone. 

The point of departure for this issue will be the environmental writings of Vance and Nettie Palmer and their writings about Green Island. Their nine-month sojourn became a search to understand the meaning of the island, as well as the surrounding reef and its relationship to the sea—for all those who inhabited and used that region.  For the Palmers, the search to understand was deeply connected to the search for words and ways to write about it. Nettie’s poetic lyricism of modernism offered a form to entice the reader, then.  How do we write islands, now?  Memoir, autobiography, eco-writing, and travel are just a few modes that some writers use when they consider islands. 

LiNQ calls for academic submissions that address Island Writing/ Writing Islands in its range of meanings, discussing literature and/or culture, present or past, with preference given to the Antipodean North: North Queensland, the archipelago of the Great Barrier Reef, the Pacific this side the Equator. Similarly, LiNQ is seeking poetic, fictional, and creative non-fiction treatments of islands from the evocation of a numinous island landscapes to the enduring effect of landscape, history, culture.

Dr Deborah Jordan of the School of English, Media Studies and Art History, University of Queensland, will serve as guest editor of the special issue.  
Submit manuscripts to
Email:          [email protected]
Or through our submission portal on the LiNQ website.

Articles must be no longer than 6000 words.  Include a brief abstract of the article or creative submission (no more than 75 words) and a 50-word biographical note. Reviews are also welcome.  Follow MLA citation style and format.  All contributions should be submitted as a Microsoft Word file, double-spaced in 12 point font.  All images must be used by permission only.    
SUBMISSIONS CLOSE ON  AUGUST 30, 2010 for Issue 27 December 2010.