Blog Post 1 : Indigenous representation in Australian young adult literature

When scanning through the lists of the most popular Australian young adult novels, I noticed a trend that is definitely not unique to this situation but is worthy of addressing nonetheless. I noticed that all the novels found on these lists were about young white people, and all seemingly did not include stories of the indigenous youth of Australia. Representation of indigenous people and minorities has definitely been lacking throughout the history of young adult literature, and despite an upwards trend in this representation, it feels as if we are still so far away from accomplishing the necessary forms of representation in young adult literature here in the U.S., and the same appears to be true for Australia as well. Australia has a colonial history just as the U.S. does, and in situations like these where a dominant  group controls the literature, it has been traditionally nearly impossible to get adequate representation in young adult literature for minority groups. Why do you think that young adult publishers have been so hesitant publish young adult novels that are centralized around the minority or indigenous Australian experience?

I believe there are a mixture of equally powerful reasons that have led to the limitation of minority and indigenous representation in Australian young adult literature. First is the most obvious; racism. The history of racism and racial inequality in Australia is quite a powerful one that has divided the country ethnically for centuries. Secondly, I think that many publishers are afraid to feature minority protagonists in central roles in Australian young adult novels due the desire for profits. These publishers may be afraid that white young adults who make up a majority of their readership could be turned off by a novel featuring an indigenous Australian character as the protagonist. The market of Australian young adult literature has been so overwhelmingly white that publishers would feel more comfortable sticking with novels that adhere to a more traditional sense and are more likely to succeed in the Australian young adult novel market.

I can’t help but feel like these are poor excuses for the lack of indigenous representation in Australian young adult novels, and I think that we have reached a point in time where many young people across the globe are gaining interest in topics of social justice and a novel featuring an indigenous protagonist could reach both commercial and critical success in Australia. For now, we as readers can just play the waiting game and support the Australian authors and publishers who work towards equality of representation in their novels.

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