|Chapter 1:||Reading Post-Colonial Australia|
historical tradition. This appropriation and transformation of literature can be taken as a metonym for the creative adaptation of Western modernity, not least because it demonstrates the agency of the local. The spreadof global influence makes the relationship between those well-worn terms “the local” and “the global” all the more complex, because when we examine local cultures, we find the presence of the global within the local to an extent that compels us to be very clear about our concept of the local. “It makes no good sense,” states Roland Robertson, “to define the global as if the global excludes the local” (“Glocalization” 34). Neither is their interpenetration a one-way process of “contamination” from an imperial discourse to a colonized subject. The view that the local and the global should not be seen in a simple homogenizing power relationship but that the local contributes to the character of the global is now widely accepted. But how this occurs is less clear, and it is precisely this phenomenon that the processes of post-colonial transformation illuminate.
Now, if we consider alternative modernities as adaptations of Western modernity, how can we presume to approach the post-colonial nature of Australian cultural production when it is properly considered to be of the West? We have already noticed the actual vagueness of the boundary between the West and non-West. If we think of hegemony in Antonio Gramsci's terms as dominance by consent, we already have a much more complex and many-facetted form of relationship than can be suggested by terms such as “anti-imperialism” or “anticolonialism.” It is a relationship in which transformation occurs in subtle, sometimes uncertain and ambivalent ways. We can see the hegemony of the project of modernity in the fact that the Gregorian calendar, the mechanical clock, and the Mercator atlas form the accepted and agreed face of world space and time. But the efficacy of post-colonial readings is to see the extent to which those discourses located within the consensual frames of space and time have been transformed and adapted—and I am thinking particularly of the discourses of place, language, and history, which are key sites in all post-colonial cultural relationships. Post-colonial resistance has always necessarily occurred within modernity; anticolonialism is not a rejection but a transformation of the modern, and I would suggest that