Colonial Hauntings: Settler Colonialism and the Abject in Kenneth Cook’s Fear Is the Rider
Keywords:abject, Indigenous Australians, gaze, outback, settler colonialism, Kenneth Cook
Kenneth Cook’s literary oeuvre has hitherto received relatively little critical attention. Recently, almost thirty years after his death, an unknown novel by Cook was discovered and, in 2016, published under the title Fear Is the Rider. While it echoes his best known novel Wake in Fright in many ways, it is yet more than simply a Gothic narrative about the Australian outback. In fact, one of its main interests is settler colonialism. In this article, drawing on Julia Kristeva’s notion of the abject, I argue that Fear Is the Rider constructs Australian settler colonialism as an abject structure by envisioning it as something that, despite efforts to do so, cannot be banished and instead haunts the nation uncomfortably. Through the figure of the monster chasing the protagonists relentlessly, which becomes an embodiment of settler colonialism, the narrative pictures the violence of colonialist structures and thereby provokes readers to question them.
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