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January 2000 Issue
The Geographical Review
January 2000, Vol. 90 (1), pp. 1-17
REVISITING THE AUSTRALIAN EXPERIENCE: TRANSMILLENNIAL CONJURINGS
J. M. POWELL
Keywords: Australia, fictional exemplars, interdisciplinary revisions,
national identity, premillennial uncertainty, sense of place, transmillennial evocations.
Ever anxious about real and apparent "identity" crises, Australians have in recent years been increasingly better served by interdisciplinary academic writings. A common theme is the clarification and resolution of recurrent national uncertainty. Others, intimately related, include the divide between indigenous and imported conceptualizations, especially notions of sacredness, together with broadly targeted historical interpretations of environmentalism, environmental management, and violent social clashes on settlement frontiers. Although these academic writings represent welcome additions to civic scholarship, they are also variously influenced, and their purchase on the public imagination limited, by the effects of current intellectual trends. While it might be expected that fictional exemplars would address place-making and place-securing in rather more comfortable fashion, they have not been immune to similar destabilizations.Nonetheless,one intriguing, problematical work makes a useful civic point in dealing creatively with Australia's epidemic of premillennial doubt.