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Associate Professor Katrina Schlunke

Image of Katrina Schlunke
Associate Professor, Cultural Studies Program
Director, A/DR&D Centre for Transforming Cultures
Director, Transforming Cultures
Core Member, Transforming Cultures
BA (Hons) (Melb), MA (UWS), PhD (UWS)
+61 2 9514 2294

Research Interests

Poetics of the Past
Place and Postcoloniality
Critical Whiteness Studies
Material Culture
Sexuality Studies
Massacre Studies
Australian Studies

Can supervise: Yes

Culture and Writing Culture, Writing and Textuality.


Schlunke, K. 2005, Bluff Rock: Autobiography of a Massacre, 1, Curtin University Books, Fremantle, WA, Australia.
The various ways in which we understand and tell history as well as the multiple variations on the 'truth' of an event are explored in brilliant detail in Bluff Rock: Autobiogrpahy of a Massacre. This book examines a story of 'massacre' from Schlunke's childhood home, the New England area of New South Wales.


Schlunke, K. 2015, 'Entertaining Possession; Re-Enacting Cook's Arrival for the Queen' in Conciliation on Colonial Frontiers; Conflict, Performance and Commemoration in Australia and the Pacific Rim, Routledge, New York, pp. 227-243.
Entertaining Possession: Re-enacting Cook's Arrival for the Queen In 1970, amid many nationally organised events to remember Captain Cook's passage up the east coast of Australia, a re-enactment of his landing at Botany Bay was held for the visiting Queen Elizabeth and entourage. What was being enacted and what re-enacted was questioned by the arrival of the Royal Party at this event on the Britannia and royal barge. Their landing was another order of re-enactment - adding the legal and regal gloss to a Cookian claim to possession. Indigenous actors playing 'hostile natives' threw stones and spears while white actors strode ashore after shots were fired and went on to claim Australia before the Queen. Clearly Cook's own account was not being used to script this 'entertainment'. As a performance of unlawful possession, of practicing a forgetting of Indigenous sovereignty and original opposition, this piece of public relations was meant to settle the population both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. Instead this conciliation to British rule and non-Indigenous control was a fragmented and fraught performance that revealed the tensions between a managed historical act and the labile possibilities of a live re-enactment.
Schlunke, K. 2014, 'Seeing Skippy? Visualising and Materialising the Kangaroo' in Visualising Australia: Images, Icons, Imaginations, Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, Germany, pp. 171-180.
Abstract: Eaten, stuffed, branded, iconised and militarized, the kangaroo is both empty signifier and volatile assemblage. This chapter will move between the photographic depictions of the roo as domesticated pet and those of the kangaroo as international televisual image to trace an historical imagining that simultanously exposes and silences Indigenous knowledges and sovereignty. Representations of the kangaroo remain anchored in the colonial moment when an Indigenous home became an exoticised 'nature'. This chapter questions the 'naturalness' of the kangaroo through its visual record spanning the transnational environments of national branding and its role as 'national' representative.
Schlunke, K. 2012, 'Inciting public grace: Deborah Kelly's public art' in French, B. & Feary, M. (eds), Deborah Kelly &, Artspace, Sydney, pp. 9-137.
This is a monograph about the artist Deborah Kelly. My chapter is concerned with her public art works.
Schlunke, K. 2012, 'When Massacre Appears: Representations of Australian Indigenous Massacre in Fiction' in Dwyer, P.G. & Ryan, L. (eds), Theatres of Violence: Massacre, Mass Killing and Atrocity throughout History, Berghahn, New York and Oxford, pp. 83-101.
Schlunke, K. 2009, 'Possession Island: Pedagogies of 'Possessed' Place' in Somerville, M., Power, K. & de Carteret, P. (eds), Landscapes and Learning: Place Studies in a Global World, Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, pp. 53-63.
Let me begin, not with Possession Island but with another island. An island that isn't an island anymore. An island right in the heart of Sydney, a mere five minutes by ferry from the Opera House, that is also a naval base and a museum, joined to the mainland now by an artificial isthmus. It's here that one Captain Cook died. In Australia, if you want to know about place you have to know about people and if you want to know about white people, you have to know about Captain Cook.
Schlunke, K. 2008, 'Ethnografts' in Schlunke, K. & Anderson, N. (eds), Cultural Theory in Everyday Practice, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria, pp. 248-258.
How does one conduct and write an ethnography of a Captain Cook in Australia? That is, how do we look at Cook as a cultural figure that produces cultural effects? The difficulty with looking at the culture that produces Cook as an important but deeply ordinary figure is that that culture is `my culturewhite Australia. So how can I practise a kind of writing and research that will enable you to see Cook as both within `my culture but not only there? Is it possible to show how Cook works as both normalising touchstone for white Australia and as one potential point of opening into a proper acknowledgment of Indigenous sovereignty? This ethnography of Cook wants to show how white race claims to sovereignty in Australia work partly through a generalised, ordinary experience of white belonging and partly through the theatrical acknowledgment of the Cook story in monument and re-enactment.
Schlunke, K. 2006, 'More than Memory, Performing Place and Postcoloniality at the Myall Creek Massacre Memorial' in Gay McAuley (ed), Unstable Ground, Peter Lang, Brussels, Belgium, pp. 177-185.
Schlunke, K. 2000, 'Imaging the Imagined' in Julie Marcus (ed), Picturing the Primitif; Images of Race in Daily Life, Lhr Press, Sydney, Australia.
Schlunke, K. 1999, 'Unsettling Whiteness' in Unmasking Whiteness: Race Relations and Reconciliation, Queensland Studies Centre: Griffith University.


Schlunke, K. 2008, 'Remembering Possession Island'.
Schlunke, K. 2008, 'Captain Cook'.
Presentation to three classes of Year 4 students about Captain Cook
Schlunke, K. 2007, 'Historicising Whiteness: Captain Cook Possesses Australia', Historicising Whiteness: Transnational Perspectives on the Construction of Identity, RMIT Publishing in association with the School of Historical Studies, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 41-50.
This article attempts to historicise the whiteness produced within the claim by James Cook to possess Australia. That claim is examined through Morton- Robinson?s idea of ?white possessive logic? and two paintings of the event to question the ?making historical? that confirms white privilege through the ?making normal? of such events. Cook as an ?historical figure? becomes secured from readings of him as violent or desirous while continuing to produce national imaginings that ?naturally? exclude Indigenous sovereignty and which continue to depend upon ways of looking to control Indigenous populations.
Schlunke, K. 2007, 'Cabinet 96'.
Schlunke, K. 2006, 'Past Writing: Another Kind of Cook'.
Schlunke, K. 2006, 'The Anecdote and History'.
Schlunke, K. 2006, 'Forgetting Captain Cook'.
Schlunke, K. 2006, 'Is History Fiction?'.
Schlunke, K. 2006, 'Captain Cook and his Chook'.
Schlunke, K. 2006, 'Captain Cook: An Australian Life'.
Schlunke, K. 2006, 'Possession: White Acts without History'.
Schlunke, K. 2006, 'Possession: The Re-enactment of Australia'.
Schlunke, K. 2006, 'Possessive Gaze: Through a Telescope'.

Journal articles

Schlunke, K. 2013, 'Memory and materiality', Memory Studies, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 253-261.
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This article explores the idea of memory effects, that is, memory and materiality as intertwined producers of something we can call memory effects. This article argues that memory is an `effect produced through and with materiality, rather than something only produced by a human-centred consciousness. Through an exploration of the scale of memory in the shapes of a tiny Captain Cook painted on a matchbox and a giant Captain Cook, which stands as `Big Cook in Cairns in northern Queensland (Australia), new paths of perception and connection that may better account for the circulations and translations of memory are established. To think of memory as having a scale is to see memory as always simultaneously physical and temporal. These are memory effects. To think memory as memory effects is to give memory a key place not just in orders of concatenating events that we may over-determine as `national but as an order of perception given to us by the things themselves
Schlunke, K. 2013, 'One strange colonial thing: material remembering and the Bark Shield of Botany Bay', Continuum, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 18-29.
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Declared objects of colonialism are strange things. They confirm colonialism but also repudiate it, resist it and persist beyond it. This paper is called by and follows one strange thing, the Bark Shield of Botany Bay, while exploring the idea of material remembering. The remembered colonial object does not always stand apart from consciousness or the embodied subject but helps to produce both. It both confirms and rearranges. When we remember materially we are reorganizing (for the remembered is never as it was before) that metaphysical arrangement in the present. This reorganization enables the shield to emerge as a particular kind of disruption to a colonial culture that has used material artefacts to mark strict divides between the Indigenous and the modern, past and present and between Indigenous ownership and white possession. The multiple ways in which this shield has been silenced, contained and hidden through multiple representations suggest the ongoing effectivity of this particular `thing and its persistent call for justice.
Hurley, A.W. & Schlunke, K. 2013, 'Leichhardt after Leichhardt', Journal of Australian Studies, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 537-543.
Schlunke, K. 2011, 'Animated Documentary and the Scene of Death: Experiencing Waltz with Bashir', South Atlantic Quarterly, vol. 110, no. 4, pp. 949-962.
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When brought together in the animated documentary, animation with its tradition of comic storytelling and gothic graphic fiction and the documentary film with its tradition of realism create new possibilities for understanding the relationship between spectatorship and memory. In this form memory and reality are volatile and changeable, yet believable. In the Israeli film Waltz with Bashir (dir. Ari Folman, 2008), the animated form of the bulk of the film is ultimately juxtaposed with television footage and still shots of the massacre within the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. The film's final sequence of live footage, some of which would have appeared on most of our television screens across the world, makes of those passing seconds a death scene. As a death scene we see again but really for the first time the horror and the miracle of survival. The preceding animation with its intertwining flows of dreams and reality not only interrogates but enacts how memory can be seen.
Schlunke, K. 2009, 'Home', South Atlantic Quarterly, vol. 108, no. 1, pp. 1-26.
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Does "possession" produce "home"? This essay figures the claim by Captain Cook to possess Australia as an attempt to institute a single order of time and nature. But that order was and is always undercut by the reality of an enduring indigenous sovereignty. Through ideas of memory, nature, and experience, this paper proposes a different order of home making that can exist alongside indigenous sovereignty. The idea of homemaking for the nonindigenous suggested in this essay involves a recognition of productive melancholia and attempts to release the differences obscured by colonial orders of time and ways of seeing nature. This alternative notion of home recognizes the ongoing force of multiple indigenous cultures that dictated that we will encounter that particular nature and that already imaged imagining amid colonizing and nationalizing practices that include the making of national parks and the management of museum displays.
Schlunke, K. 2008, 'Captain Cook's Eye-patch', Art Monthly, vol. August, no. 212, pp. 5-9.
Schlunke, K. 2008, 'Captain Cook Chased a Chook', Cultural Studies Review, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 43-54.
Captain Cook has been marked again and again as culturally and historically significant. Even mentioning his name risks a set of responses: The Great Navigator, The Original Invader, The Marker of Modern Australia and The Discoverer. One of the challenges to think history `experimentally was to consider how and why and if we could redeem aspects of the past which have fallen outside what has been monumentalised as historically significant. But equally, how could we make new kinds of interpretative spaces within well circulated and official histories such as those which simply leave Cook as a `discoverer of Australia? The challenge in attempting to interrupt Cook as only a historical figure is that he already works through replication and chaotic proliferation that solemnly monumentalise him with a fake reason and at the same time popularise him in delirious rhyme. He is the figure represented through statues and `discovery sites that invent him as a foundational national figure and he is displayed and circulated through banal activities such as Captain Cook cruises and take away shops. As Chris Healy suggests of the multiple experiences of `Captain Cooks Cottage'
Schlunke, K. 2006, 'Ecologue', Cultural Studies Review, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 132-140.
Schlunke, K. 2005, 'Gagging the past', Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 413-419.
This piece is concerned wth the many ways in which the idea of gagging has been and could be connected to the idea of the past. There have been specific claims from Windschuttle and others that there has been a gagging of ?real? history founded in fact. But we might also see that reducing the past to ?proven? facts is to make a ?gag?, a predigested narrative caricature that denies the past is something we must constantly make in the present. But could a ?gagging? of the past make us think about how writing the past is to engage with the possibility of a physical gagging that connects the past to a choking, a reflex connected to disgust and shame? This reflex via Darwin is connected to ideas of distance where we keep ourselves safe from the touch of the other, from the threat of the poison and perhaps the perpetuity of the past. If the past is embodied then how do we negotiate our relationship with it? And how should we write it? Can we eat it? This writing engages with the ambivalent affectivity of historical fact, narratives of the past and our relationship with a performed present that claims to be past. It is, in short, an intervention into the ?factual turn? that haunts a ?knowing? of the past.
Schlunke, K. & Brewster, A. 2005, 'We Four: Fictocriticism Again', Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 393-395.
Schlunke, K. 2004, 'The Usefulness of History', Cultural Studies Review, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 165-167.
Schlunke, K. 2004, 'Dumb Places', Balayi: Culture, Law and Colonialism, vol. 6, no. August, pp. 72-81.
This paper is concerned with a very violent incident that was carried out by the perpetrators of the Myall Creek Massacre after that massacre in 1838 and when the party was still on their killing spree. I apologise for the particular distress talking about such things may have for the Wirrayaraay peoples, for other Indigenous peoples and for women in particular but also others who may have experienced direct violence. It is very understandable that you would not want to read again the detail of such events. I do not see my decision to talk about such things as at all straightforward and I remain anxious about my ability to tread a path between ideas of testimony, wanting to write it differently and wanting to expand what writing can do for a hopeful postcolonialism.
Schlunke, K. 2003, 'In-between the memorial, the library and the lesbian', Cultural Studies Review, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 77-84.
Schlunke, K. 2002, 'Sovereign Hospitalities?', Borderlands, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 1-7.
The indigenous person, the refugee and the new and old 'settler' sit in an awkward arrangement of relationship which is radically exposed through the reality of indigenous sovereignty. Indigenous sovereignty insists the question is asked: Who are strangers? The situation of the refugee insists the question is asked: Who is able to practice hospitality? All of these questions within Australia move between the imaginary of a continent simultaneously surrounded by beaches and shores.
Schlunke, K. 2001, 'Incommensurate Suffering: Making Women and Children in Massacre', Australian Feminist Studies, vol. 16, no. 34, pp. 61-67.
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Figuring the ?production? of Aboriginal women and children through non-Aboriginal accounts of a massacre is a problematic endeavour. It is a tricky postcolonial terrain of wishing to make explicit the particular ways in which women and children were distinctively produced through non-Aboriginal colonial accounts without recourse to a universalising framework that might suggest women and children have always existed in ways we always, already, know. My use of ?incommensurate?1 to describe the physical, emotional, ideological, linguistic, colonial terror that was suffered in the process of becoming women and children within a colonial system is not to suggest that there is no way in which that suffering can be communicated, but almost the opposite. Following Bhabha I am employing ?incommensurate? to indicate that the different cultures meeting in these encounters are incommensurables, in that they cannot be organised into universal frameworks unless one wishes to continue a work of terror. What the category, the colonial ?recognition? of ?woman? and ?child? allowed, was for those Aboriginal groups to be made available within a brutal colonial economy to be taken up and used, exchanged, killed and recategorised. What was done to non-Aboriginal women and children within these same categories, while also brutal, cannot be considered ?similar?. Aboriginal ?women? were ?saved? into a colonial economy to be used?saved to be spent, not saved to be safe.

Non traditional outputs

Schlunke, K. 2007, 'Voyage into Myth Captain Cook as navigator, possessor and the devil under the expressway', Guthrie Theatre UTS.