Liminality and communitas in literary representations of Aboriginal and Asian encounters

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3 Citations (Scopus)


The dynamic relationship between Aboriginal groups and ethnic immigrants in Australia remains theoretically unconstructed as it largely falls outside the binaries of race and ethnicity. Historically, Aboriginal people have developed longstanding contacts with Asian groups, traversing national, cultural, sexual and legislative boundaries. Although indigeneity and diaspora embody disparate and even opposite meanings, there are synergies between diasporic identities and Aboriginal people who suffer from dislocation due to the enduring impact of colonisation and migration. The postcolonial adaptation of liminality or threshold may provide an apt framework for theorising the literary representation of a convergence of border-crossing and diasporic experiences of Aboriginal and Asian Australians in the marginal, interstitial and in-between spaces. Due to a shared predicament and a sense of comradeship, Aboriginal–Asian encounters forge communitas, which does not suggest inherent subversiveness or unproblematic co-option. This paper considers Ubby’s Underdogs (2011, 2013) by Brenton E. McKenna and A Most Peculiar Act (2014) by Marie Munkara to explore Aboriginal–Asian relations under the White Australia policy. Through the recurrent theme of Japanese and imaginary Chinese invasions, these novels complicate the crossings in the porous and precarious borderlands, remap the intersecting power relations and reroute Aboriginal characters back to the centre.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475–490
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Australian Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Aboriginal and Asian relations
  • diaspora
  • liminality
  • communitas
  • invasion narratives


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