My Place (book)
|Subject||Australian Aborigines, History of Indigenous Australians|
|Publisher||Fremantle Arts Centre|
My Place is an autobiography written by artist Sally Morgan in 1987. It is about Morgan's quest for knowledge of her family's past and the fact that she has grown up under false pretences. The book is a milestone in Aboriginal literature and is one of the earlier works in indigenous writing.
Sally Morgan is a story of a young Aboriginal girl growing up to false heritage and not knowing where she is from. Recounts of several of Morgan's family members are told. The story setting revolves around Morgan's own hometown, Perth, Western Australia and also Corunna Downs. Morgan has 4 siblings, two brothers and two sisters. She faces many challenges, such as fitting in at school, getting good marks for acceptance in University, and living life without her father.
The book has been published in several parts 'for young readers' in the following parts:
Arthur Corunna's story (Narkaling Productions, 1995) edited by Barbara Ker Wilson ('My Place' for young readers, part 2'. For children.) ISBN 0-949206-77-6
Mother and daughter: The story of Daisy and Glady's Corunna (Narkaling Productions, 1994) Edited by Barbara Ker Wilson ('My Place' for young readers, part 3'. For children.) ISBN 0-949206-79-2
The book is widely studied in Public Schools across New South Wales as part of an 'Aboriginal Studies' program compulsory for all students.
Aboriginal representations in My Place
In her essay "Always was always will be," Indigenous writer, activist and historian Jackie Huggins responds to Australian historian Bain Attwood's "deconstruction of Aboriginality" in his analysis of Sally Morgan's My Place, in addition to identifying problems that Huggins has with the book itself. Here is a brief excerpt from Huggins' essay:
"It cannot be denied that among those who have read My Place are (usually patronising) whites who believe that they are no longer racist because they have read it. It makes Aboriginality intelligible to non-Aboriginals, although there are different forms of Aboriginality which need to be considered also; otherwise these remain exclusionary and the danger is that only one ‘world view’ is espoused.
"Precisely what irks me about My Place is its proposition that Aboriginality can be understood by all non-Aboriginals. Aboriginality is not like that. [Bain] Attwood states ‘like most other Aboriginal life histories, it requires little if any translation’. To me that is My Place’s greatest weakness – requiring little translation (to a white audience), therefore it reeks of whitewashing in the ultimate sense."
In her essay Aboriginal Art and Film: The Politics of Representation, leading Aboriginal scholar Marcia Langton reflects on the (often complex) debates and controversies that surround Morgan's My Place – which have also plagued authors Mudrooroo and Archie Weller – and Aboriginal identity generally.
"[T]he enormous response by white Australia to [My Place] lies somewhere in the attraction to something forbidden... and the apparent investigation and revelation of that forbidden thing through style and family history. It recasts Aboriginality, so long suppressed, as acceptable, bringing it out into the open. The book is a catharsis. It gives release and relief, not so much to Aboriginal people oppressed by psychotic racism, as to the whites who wittingly and unwittingly participated in it" (Langton)
- Grossman, Michele (2003). Blacklines: contemporary critical writing by indigenous Australians. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press. ISBN 978-0-522-85069-7.
- Bain Attwood - School of Historical Studies Staff, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria
- Attwood, Bain (1992). Portrait of an Aboriginal as an Artist: Sally Morgan and the Construction of Aboriginality. Routledge. doi:10.1080/10314619208595912.
- Langton, M (2005). Aboriginal Art and Film The Politics of Representation
- Foley, G (1997). Muddy Waters: Mudrooroo & Aboriginality