Altitude: an e-journal of emerging humanities work

June 3, 2005

As Long as She Got Her Voice: How cross-cultural collaboration shapes Abroiginal textuality

Filed under: Volume 5: Reading Indigenous Australian Texts 1 (2005) — Tags: — Clifton Evers @ 12:37 am

by Jennifer Jones, Altitude, Volume 5, Article 2, 2005.

Aunty Marge spoke on platforms, going back years ago, in Melbourne in the city here, when we wouldn’t have had a voice at all. I can go as far as saying ‘black was a dirty word’, you know, and you had to be really very careful. But Aunty Marge spoke on platforms, she joined the Communists, because they were the only ones that listened to Aboriginal people in those days, you know. So Aunty Marge jumped on the wagon there too, as long as she got her voice.
Walda Blow, Interview with Author

By the time Aunty Marge (Margaret) Tucker started to write her life story, If Everyone Cared in the early 1970s she was a seasoned campaigner for Aboriginal rights. Margaret Tucker knew how to use cross-cultural affiliations to the advantage of her cause. In order to gain her literary voice she undertook the familiar process of negotiation and compromise entailed in any cross-cultural political alliance. By this time she had moved away from the Communist Party (Jones, ‘The Black Communist’) and drew instead upon friends and fellow travellers from the religious movement Moral Re-Armament (MRA).1 In this era, an absence of supportive discourses in literature and politics (Whitlock) (social contexts that valued Indigenous perspectives and their public expression) limited audience access and made it difficult for Aboriginal women writers to attract the interest of mainstream publishing houses. In order to achieve publication Aboriginal women like Margaret Tucker harnessed available pockets of interest within white society, particularly drawing upon the resources of communities of ideological commitment. ‘Jump[ing] on the wagon’ of an interested and well-resourced community of commitment enabled Aboriginal women to gain a literary voice, but such alliances also influenced the style that Aboriginal writers could adopt. This paper examines how cross-cultural collaboration both enabled and curtailed Margaret Tucker’s textual expression.

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