White Lives in a Black Community: The lives of Jim Page and Rebecca Forbes in the Adnyamathanha community

Author: Tracy Louise Spencer

Spencer, Tracy Louise, 2011 White Lives in a Black Community: The lives of Jim Page and Rebecca Forbes in the Adnyamathanha community, Flinders University, School of Humanities

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Abstract

The lives of Jim Page and Rebecca Forbes in the Adnyamathanha community anchor this hybrid life-writing text which identifies not only the author, but all white settler Australians, with two English settlers who found belonging with Adnyamathanha people, on Adnyamathanha land, in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia. These lives, and the author/reader's identification with them, become metaphors for decolonized relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. They become the parable through which a contextual theology of Decolonisation can be imagined, and therefore lived. The Thesis is presented in five parts: - The Title Page and Summary - Volume One Creative Life Writing Excerpts - Volume Two Exegetical Essays - Volume Three Appendices Creative Life Writing sections A - F - Volume Four Other Appendices Volume One comprises Chapters 1, 2, 5, 9, 11, 17, 20 of the entire Creative Life Writing narrative, and represents 60% of the Thesis content. Examiners are invited to read intervening chapters found in Volume 3 if they wish, but this is not required. The Creative Life Writing chapters have been developed through extensive field and archival research and collection of oral histories, as well as literature reviews, and ethics clearances and consent forms were obtained for the use of material in this way (See Volume Four). The narrative is presented in a hybrid life writing genre, utilising several temporalities to progress the four 'voices' of the text: oral history, historical biography, speculative fiction and autobiography. Date and place headings for each section feature as textual markers. The setting of the narrative moves west from Australia's settled east coast into central Australia and the eidetic Flinders Ranges of South Australia, Adnyamathanha yarta. Jim and Rebecca as primary characters also migrate from colonial centres into the hospitality of Indigenous communities, and finally into the Adnyamathanha community, although Rebecca arrives with her Indigenous husband and children, while Jim arrives as a missionary of the United Aborigines Mission. The Adnyamathanha community itself is being dispossessed of traditional camping places and seeking to establish a permanent settlement for the community. The narrative tracks these migrations of place and identity, punctuated by deaths and losses and decisive moments where loyalties are tested and changed. Jim's death by suicide before Christmas, 1930, is a climax to the tensions of establishing Nepabunna mission; Rebecca's death, nearly thirty years later, concludes the narrative with a reflection on the hybrid nature of white settler belonging in Australia. Both are buried in Adnyamathanha yarta. Volume Two is a series of Exegetical Essays which reflect on the six themes of colonial journeying, migrating identities, contact zones, meetings of hosts and strangers, transculturation and belonging which are reflected sequentially in the chapters chosen for inclusion in Volume One. Each essay in Volume Two is designed to be read in conjunction wit its corresponding section and chapter in Volume One. The first essay in Volume Two describes the methodology of the project, and the choice of genre as a vehicle for postcolonial parabolic contextual theology arising from the lives and history portrayed in the life writing narrative. The final essay suggests a 'Theology of Decolonisation' arising from the sense of belonging each of Jim and Rebecca achieved through their personal decolonised relationship with Adnyamathanha. All of these essays were developed from papers presented at peer reviewed conferences, and some have also been published as articles. These essays represent 40% of the thesis content.

Keywords: Creative Writing,Jim Page,Rebecca Forbes,Adnyamathanha community,White settler Australians,Decolonisation
Subject: Theology thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2011
School: School of Humanities and Creative Arts
Supervisor: Rick Hosking, Andrew Dutney