By Lindsay Proudfoot, Dianne Hall
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Additional info for Imperial Spaces: Placing the Irish and Scots in Colonial Australia
Geographical studies of the spatial construction of imperial knowledge and identities – Clayton’s second trope – have been particularly varied in their treatment of these foundational power relations within empire. And here we may make our third point. Running through these diverse engagements is a central conception of empire as discourse, as a set of spatialised practices, knowledges and institutions which between them shaped the spaces of encounter between the colonising power and the colonised indigenes.
15 This work provided the point of departure for the wider body of work that subsequently became known as colonial discourse theory. Central to this broader field is Foucault’s concept of discourse. 16 Holding that all knowledge is socially constructed and linguistically framed, colonial discourse theory challenges the fundamental Enlightenment epistemological presumption that universal and objective truths about the human condition are discoverable through rational enquiry. Thus, denying the possibility of there being an ‘objective’ history to recover, colonial discourse theory has sought to expose the cultural conditions under which Western colonial knowledge has been produced and, crucially, imposed on the colonial subjects’ own forms of understanding.
55 These processes continue to resonate throughout the ex-dominions, troubling non-indigenous conceptions of belonging and legitimacy. 56 At issue is the nature of the European historical encounter with Aboriginal society, the ways this has subsequently been represented, and the implications of both of these things for contemporary non-indigenous Australians, their sense of belonging and nationhood, and the legitimacy of their presence in Australia. Anne Curthoys explains ‘The History Wars’’ vehemence as a function of the sense of victimhood that she alleges is fundamental to the Anglo-Celtic Australian national imaginary.