|Chapter 1:||Reading Post-Colonial Australia|
of contestation shared by all colonies. A post-colonial reading of Australian culture unfolds the transformative nature of discursive resistance that we find in all colonies (see Ashcroft, Post-Colonial). Importantly, it places indigenous and non-indigenous cultural production in a continuum rather than in opposition.
However, I want to proceed, a little provocatively, beyond this view of the efficacy of post-colonial reading to suggest its necessity. This necessity is connected to the need to understand the nature of the development of multiple modernities in the contemporary global world. This is not simply an argument about nomenclature but an attempt to describe how the modern world works. Imperialism is a fundamental feature of modernity, and it makes sense that post-colonial engagements with imperialism provide a model for the emergence of non-Western modernities. The strategic move that sees the developing Australian discourses of self engaging and resisting the dominant imperial discourses that appear to give them birth is a move that identifies transformation and creative adaptation as the fundamental strategy of global modernity. Post-colonial theory offers models with which to understand global modernities. Too often when we think of globalization, we think only of economic globalization, but to understand the proliferation of modernities, we need to understand the way they have engaged the Western regulation of world reality through the hegemony of Western discourses of space, time, and language. This is the meeting point of modernity and the post-colonial: cultures are not necessarily engulfed by modernity but creatively adapt it to local needs. In this way, people “make themselves modern” rather than allow themselves to be “made modern” by the irresistible force of modernity.
It is clear that the dissemination of modernity in imperial civilizing projects produced consequences as unexpected as those that occurred when English literature was deployed as the primary civilizing discourse of the British Empire. In this respect, their adaptation and transformation are similar. Whereas local writers appropriated the language of English literature, the literatures that developed bore a complex relation to English literature, either in its canonical forms or in its filiative relation to an