Parker, E (2020) Imperial Debris in Janet Frame's To the Is-Land (1982). Life Writing, 17 (4). 483 - 491. ISSN 1448-4528

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This article explores Janet Frame's first autobiography To the Is-Land, reading Frame's relentless cataloguing of objects as indicative of her wider, post-imperial, life writing project. Frame insists that her ancestors (white Scottish settlers who arrived in New Zealand as part of a chain migration) ‘survive as a presence in objects [such] as a leather workbag, a pair of ribbed butter pats, a handful of salmon spoons’ (7). But the meaning of these objects is never stable: they are frequently lost, broken, or their significance is misinterpreted. Reading against the grain of this insistent cataloguing, I argue that these objects are detritus, rather than heirlooms and that Frame's life writing is filled with imperial debris which resists colonial taxonomies. Through this strategic confusion of objects and origin stories, Frame challenges an understanding of empire as a beginning point or determinant within her life writing.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final version of this accepted manuscript and all relevant information related to it, including copyrights, can be found online at;
Subjects: A General Works > AC Collections. Series. Collected works
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z004 Books. Writing. Paleography
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Law
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2021 08:37
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2022 01:30

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