A flâneur in the outback: walking and writing frontier in Central Australia

Glenn Morrison

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While Frederick Turner's envisioning of the frontier remains pervasive in representations of Australian postcolonial geographies and constructions of national identity, recent anthropological evidence suggests more nuanced 'lifeworlds' may better approximate the lived experience of 'frontier' towns such as Alice Springs, in Central Australia. This paper reimagines Baudelaire's flâneur to examine two walking narratives from the region. The analysis reveals at least two levels of produced space prevailing in Alice Springs, with many other imagined spaces imbricated in a more complex political geography than Turner's frontier might explain. The paper aims to alert writers and journalists to recent shifts in anthropology, leading hopefully to more nuanced representations of Australian postcolonial geographies. The first text is a Central Australian Aboriginal Dreaming narrative called 'A Man from the Dreamtime,' a traditional Kaytetye story. Kaytetye elder Tommy Kngwarraye Thompson told the story to anthropologist Myfany Turpin as part of a collection published as Growing Up Kaytetye (2003). The second is one (walking) chapter from a recent narrative of political geography and memoir by Eleanor Hogan entitled Alice Springs (2012).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-72
Number of pages22
JournalNew scholar : an international journal of the humanities, creative arts and social sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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