Fishermen and Little Fish: Migration and Hospitality in Maxine Beneba Clarke’s ‘The Stilt Fishermen of Kathaluwa’

Natalie Edwards
Christopher Hogarth

Abstract


In this article, we argue that Maxine Beneba Clarke’s tale ‘The Stilt Fishermen of Kathaluwa,’ in Foreign Soil (2014), is a provocative representation of migration in contemporary Australia. At a time in which the world is facing its largest migration since the Second World War and in which Australian border policy is making headlines around the world, Clarke’s tale is a powerful intervention in discourses of contemporary Australian identity and nationhood. We demonstrate that the tale is a subtle manipulation of what McCullough terms the ‘refugee narrative structure’ since it carefully undercuts the myth of a nation as a coherent narrative across time and space. By juxtaposing the tales of an illegal migrant and a volunteer case worker, and by setting the tale largely in a functioning detention centre, Clarke gives voice to the voiceless and draws parallels between individuals on different sides of the insider/outsider binary. The encounter that finally takes place between them implicates the reader very directly in discourses of contemporary migration and border policy.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5130/portal.v13i2.4891

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