Frontier Narratives That Take on Flesh: Tracing Legacy, Labour, and Legitimacy in Outback Queensland, Australia

Alana Brekelmans, Richard J. Martin

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Abstract

In this article, we explore the notion of legacy through the ways graziers in Outback Queensland, Australia, draw on material, narrative, and embodied traces of past ‘events’ to emplot their lives during times of uncertainty. Through an ethnography of pastoral work and storytelling on stations, or ranches, we show how settler-colonial narratives of the frontier and legacy circulate as affective forces in pastoralists' daily lives and become embodied through labour. We argue that pastoral families respond to both the failure of modernist grand narratives and more personal events by renegotiating stories of the frontier to legitimate their ongoing presence in Outback Australia and give meaning to their lives. While these narratives are existentially useful for pastoralists, we argue that they remain tied to exclusionary and unsustainable structures and ideologies that prevent pastoralists from adjusting to contemporary crises.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-38
Number of pages21
JournalOceania
Volume94
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

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