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Legacies of Indigenous Resistance

Pemulwuy, Jandamarra and Yagan in Australian Indigenous Film, Theatre and Literature


Matteo Dutto

This book explores the ways in which Australian Indigenous filmmakers, performers and writers work within their Indigenous communities to tell the stories of early Indigenous resistance leaders who fought against British invaders and settlers, thus keeping their legacies alive and connected to community in the present. It offers the first comprehensive and trans-disciplinary analysis of how the stories of Pemulwuy, Jandamarra and Yagan (Bidjigal, Bunuba and Noongar freedom fighters, respectively) have been retold in the past forty years across different media. Combining textual and historical analysis with original interviews with Indigenous cultural producers, it foregrounds the multimodal nature of Indigenous storytelling and the dynamic relationship of these stories to reclamations of sovereignty in the present. It adds a significant new chapter to the study of Indigenous history-making as political action, while modelling a new approach to stories of frontier resistance leaders and providing a greater understanding of how the decolonizing power of Indigenous screen, stage and text production connects past, present and future acts of resistance.

CONTENTS: Pemulwuy as a pan-Aboriginal hero – Legacies of resistance in Rachel Perkins’ First Australians and Grant Leigh Saunders’ Pemulwuy: A War of Two Laws – The three lives of Jandamarra: Archivists, copycats and custodians – Performing resistance – «Keeping story alive:» Screening the voice of Bunuba Country in Mitch Torres’ Jandamarra’s War and Keepers of the Story – Defacing colonial sovereignty in Sally Riley’s Confessions of a Headhunter – Breaching into the settler colonial city: Re-enacting crosshatch history in Kelrick Martin’s Yagan –Reflections from Yagan Square.