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Packing Death in Australian Literature

Iris Ralph


In this article, the author identifies critical connections between the transformation of food in the last two hundred thirty years and arguments by animal studies, indigenous studies, ecocriticism, ecofeminism, and environmental history scholars. She does that through a reading of two works of Australian literature: Merlinda Bobis’s cli-fi novel Locust Girl and Evie Wyld’s post-pastoral fiction All the Birds Singing. Bobis’s novel raises questions about the given transformation as it directly relates to the birth of the commercial kangaroo-meat industry, depletion of arable land as a direct consequence of the overuse of it for introduced species of animals reductively called livestock, and obliteration of extensive grain belts in Australia. Wyld’s novel addresses the given transformation in an implicit critique of Australia’s sheep industry and, by implication, Australia’s cattle industry. Both constitute Australian pastoral, which has profoundly transformed food in Australia and eradicated interspecies balances thousands of years old. The novels represent the notice, as limited as that is, in contemporary Australian literature of the radical transformation of food since the late eighteenth century. Illustrating her argument by referring to the two novels, the author argues that literary food studies must reflect greater engagement with ongoing interspecies abuses that define food production. Difficult as those injustices are to confront, they point to the gross moral and material failings in the transformation of food since the late eighteenth century.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2020.03331