David Unaipon's Style of Subversion: Performativity and Becoming in "Gool Lun Naga (Green Frog)"

Benjamin Miller

Abstract


This paper theorises Aboriginal author David Unaipon’s style of subversion. Firstly, Unaipon’s manner of dress is investigated as an embodied, performative Aboriginal resistance strategy that fits within a worldwide history of dandyism. Secondly, a close reading of one of Unaipon’s short stories (“Gool Lun Naga (Green Frog)”) reveals how his performative method of resistance is apparent not only in his dress, but in his writings as well. Such an analysis seeks to intervene in a history of criticism on Unaipon’s life and writing that fails to account for the many contradictions within his life and writing. Ultimately, the failure to account for the many contradictions in Unaipon’s life is seen as contributing to the colonial present (Gregory), where colonial discourses still operate to define and limit Aboriginality. Unaipon’s constant struggle against such discourses is read as a “becoming-imperceptible” (Deleuze and Guattari); a style of subversion that has paved the way for many Aboriginal artists since.

Keywords


David Unaipon; Aboriginal writing

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