Turbulent dislocations in central Australia

Exile, place making, and the promises of elsewhere

by MELINDA HINKSON

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A Warlpiri woman is exiled from her community in Australia's Central Desert and pursues a new life in metropolitan Adelaide. The state promises that Aboriginal people will have better life prospects beyond their remote territories, but the grueling disruptions of their relationships to place shows otherwise. To be caught between alternate and transforming subjectivities associated with the desert and the city is to inhabit a particular kind of exile. Under contemporary conditions, exile acquires new ambiguities and intensities, as anxious mobility and digital communication enable people to participate in aspects of life from which they have been physically separated, albeit in attenuated ways. Exile is a contradictory experience of liberation and entrapment that generates, but ultimately withholds, new possible selves and lives.