Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Pointing the bone: Self-deconstruction in indigenous anglophone Australian and American texts

Ward, Christopher (1994) Pointing the bone: Self-deconstruction in indigenous anglophone Australian and American texts. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

PDF - Whole Thesis
Available Upon Request


In this thesis the Aboriginal ritual of pointing a death bone refers to the deconstruction of Western culture which has acted as coloniser of the indigene and framer of the psyche. The bone is pointed at European perceptions of the ’other'. The argument is made that the fictional texts of indigenous Australian and American writers not only deconstruct Western misprisions of the 'other' but also demonstrate a cultural renaissance of the colonised which invites the participation of the coloniser. This renaissance deconstructs Western mythologies of self and other that would pretend to notions of a stable presence. From the coloniser's perspective, deconstructive practice has been turned inward representing a self-deconstruction.

The historical legacy of Western biases is established in the early chapters. Spurious metaphysical constructions of self are then exposed. The implications of postmodernism are such that its own deferment becomes a problem in reconstituting an indigenous response. By employing indigenous literature as an aesthetic and poetic valorisation of culture itself, culture may be used as a tool against culture to resist historical priorities in the equation of money and power. Yet to deny structure is to deny the story of human suffering and the unavoidable bias of cultural perspective. Only humanists unwilling to admit to the full implications of their own thinking would insist on the assimilation of cultural diversity to a hegemonic norm.

I argue for a perspectival pragmatism which, cognisant of its own fallibility, its own perspective, acts upon the best available arguments, mutatis mutandis. Such an approach accommodates dissension by recognising no univocal truth available to humankind. Yet it retains traces of modernism in becoming postmodern. With this in mind, Aboriginal and Amerindian perceptions of self and environment in contemporary literature provide a paradigm by which to view colonising pursuits as debilitating and scientistic self-definition. In recognising a need to span the chasm of alterity rather than to close it, we may acknowledge equality rather than efface difference.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Humanities
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Webb, Hugh
Item Control Page Item Control Page