Pursuits of Settler Belonging in Australian Post-Millennial Memoirs

Pursuits of Settler Belonging in Australian Post-Millennial Memoirs

By Martina Horáková

Anthem Studies in Australian Literature and Culture

This book examines Australian memoirs of settler belonging written by public intellectuals—writers, historians, academics, journalists—which attempt to come to terms with the history of colonial violence and dispossession of Indigenous people, and articulate new perspectives on how to belong ethically in a settler colony of the 21st century.

Hardback, 250 Pages


March 2025

£80.00, $110.00

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About This Book

At the turn of the 21st century, Australia witnessed a shift in the public debates related to the history of European settlement of the continent and settler–Indigenous relations. This historical moment was a result of revisionist history which made the violent settlement of the land and Indigenous dispossession more visible to the public, as well as the culmination of Indigenous activism and testimonial accounts. Consequently, the Australian White settler majority has experienced an unsettlement of their sense of belonging, resulting in what some scholars call “setter anxiety” (Slater 2019).
  This book analyzes how settler (un)belonging is narrativized in a particular literary genre, that of memoir, written by Australian public intellectuals, such as historians, artists, writers, and commentators, in the period after 2000. I call these narratives memoirs of settler belonging. Becoming a popular genre in Australia, they have one thing in common: they all ask and seek answers to the implicit question, how to belong as a white settler who bears witness to the legacy of violent colonization vis-à-vis continuing Indigenous dispossession? How to justify the settler presence and love of the land that was stolen from First Australians?
   The individual chapters examine various groups of memoirs produced by Australian public intellectuals who textualize their settler anxiety and their desire to belong ethically. The groups include historians’ memoirs, White women’s travel narratives, experimental place-writing, and eco- and landscape memoirs. The book advances an argument that throughout almost two decades, a shift can be traced in representing settler (un)belonging textually. While in the earlier memoirs setter anxiety was visibly thematized and an active approach to resolving the impasse of (un)belonging was sought, the more recent memoirs, particularly those morphing into landscape- and eco-memoir, have moved away from the critical reflection on settler anxiety as being generated by the continuing Indigenous dispossession, and replaced this anxiety of settler belonging with a new perspective which brings forward the concept of settler belonging based on an intimate historical and environmental knowledge of local landscapes, and on affective engagement with the Country.


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Author Information

Martina Horáková is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and American Studies at Masaryk University, Czech Republic.


Anthem Studies in Australian Literature and Culture

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