Who will save us from the rabbits?: rewriting the past allegorically

Brooke Collins-Gearing, Dianne Osland


As a product of a colonial past, Australian children’s literature demonstrates a clash of colonial metanarratives of settlement and post-colonial awareness of invasion and dispossession.  Non-Indigenous representations face the dilemma of acknowledging the presence of Indigenous peoples within colonialist frameworks built on the doctrine of terra nullius.  That is, myths of white settlement have been, and continue to be, the basis for ideological, institutional and societal practices and beliefs that centre non-Indigenous cultures and relegate Indigenous cultures to the margins.

In this study of John Marsden and Shaun Tan’s 1998 multi-award-winning text The Rabbits, its attempt to enter into and reflect recent national and historical dialogues about the construction of Australia’s history is explored. As this text deals explicitly with colonisation as a form of invasion and dispossession, Australia’s psychological terra nullius in terms of how it tries to create and invoke a collective identity is examined.

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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

ISBN 1551-5680