Comparative transindigeneity (against settler colonialisms): Priyanka Shivadas, A TransIndigenous Study of Indigenous Australian and Adivasi/Tribal Literatures: Seeking Literary and Thematic Connections, PhD dissertation, UNSW, 2022


Abstract: This thesis juxtaposes Indigenous Australian literature and Adivasi/tribal literature—two self-governing bodies of Indigenous literature differently situated: one in an Anglophone, white settler-nation in the Pacific region and the other in a non-Anglophone, postcolonial nation-state in Asia. Studies exploring critical connections between Indigenous writing from Australia and Adivasi/tribal writing from India are rare. A considerable amount of scholarship brings together the literatures of Indigenous Australians, Māori, Native American and First Nations peoples of Canada, who share much in their responses to European settler-colonialism, but little ventures into comparative study of the literatures of the Indigenous peoples of Australia and India. This thesis is guided by Native American scholar Chadwick Allen’s trans-Indigenous methodologies, which open up possibilities for global Indigenous literary studies by building from specificities and across, through and beyond differences in diverse Indigenous contexts. Beginning from a place of accepted difference and distance, this thesis thus seeks connection and comparability, framing similarities through identifying a shared set of issues/themes and genres. This study finds the following literary and thematic concerns are shared between Indigenous Australian and Adivasi/tribal writing: (a) land and labour, (b) bilanguaging, (c) editorial negotiations in cross-cultural, collaborative life writing, (d) gender and sexuality as sites of decolonial critique, and (e) responses to over-policing and death in police custody. These shared concerns structure and organise the thesis. They also form the basis for trans-Indigenous analysis of a selection of illuminating case studies. In each case, analysis seeks to yield Indigenous-centred, productive readings of juxtaposed Indigenous Australian and Adivasi/tribal texts, resulting from the tension generated between their distinctiveness and shared (post)colonial concerns. Ultimately, this study disrupts familiar patterns of comparison and encourages new models of critical thought in global Indigenous literary studies.

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