This article examines the scholarly analysis of Australian Indigenous literature in China from 1988 to 2018, a period that saw increasing academic interest in this genre among Chinese scholars. These analyses mostly (but not exclusively) draw on postcolonial theories. Postcolonial criticism in China first manifested through Third World theory but has recently been replaced by multicultural theory. The article will discuss how Third World theory and multicultural theory facilitate a positioning that aims to subvert western dominance and yet unwittingly inscribes uncontested binaries between east and west, black and white, colonized and colonizer. By focusing on the “postcolonial” readings of writers like Oodgeroo Noonuccal and Alexis Wright in the Chinese context, the article suggests the dichotomized paradigm, which emerges from applications of these theories, precludes a critical and nuanced analysis of Indigenous literature and the complex postcolonial or settler colonial exigencies confronting Indigenous people. It argues that a more critical, non-essentialist approach is needed.
- Australian Indigenous literature
- Chinese literary criticism
- multicultural theory
- postcolonial studies
- Third World theory