Exercising Dominion: Landscape, Civilisation and Racial Politics in Capricornia

Michael Thomas Ellis


The Land in Xavier Herbert’s 1937 novel Capricornia acts as a “medium” (38) according to Lydia Wevers, mediating all experiences and developments. In particular, the land is a site of contention between Indigenous and settler groups each vying for an existence very different from the other’s. The phrase “exercising dominion” (Fitzmaurice, 56) was developed by European thinkers in the Middle Ages, who were tasked with finding justification for the colonisation of the Holy Lands of the Middle East and the mineral-rich lands of the Americas. This article will analyse the settlement and colonisation of the Northern Territory as depicted in Capricornia with consideration of the above statement, particularly as it explores the opposing groups’ attitudes towards and interactions with the Land and to each other. 


Landscape; Indigenous; Settler; Colonial; Colonisation

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5007/2175-8026.2016v69n2p43

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