Can These Bones Live?

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"White Australians talk about the 'Aboriginal problem'. The first thing is to define the issue facing us non-Aboriginals. Is it an Aboriginal problem at all? I would suggest not. The problem is ours." So starts Veronica Brady as she seeks the road to reconciliation. But how can there be true and lasting reconciliation if we non-Aboriginals do not understand our historical and cultural assumptions? What are those assumptions? What attitudes, hopes and fears did the explorers, the settlers, the convicts, have of the Great Southern Land? Brady explores literature to find answers. Medieval geographers and the Enlightenment provide a background to the ways in which fiction reveals our true selves. She ranges over early colonial novels to contemporary works like 'Oscar and Lucinda' and 'My place'. She shows how it is that we have failed to understand the peoples whose land we occupied. And why it is that we have found it so difficult to recognise Aboriginals as human beings, onces with skills, wisdom and history very different from our own. "Can these bones live?" Is Australia, in the words of the Old Testmanet prophetEzekiel, a valley of dry bones or can our country flourish with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal reconciled? Brady shows that the first, essential step to reconciliation is true knowledge of Australia's history.

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