Journal article Open Access

Tiddaism: Negotiating Aboriginality and the Experiences of the Australian Aboriginal Woman in a Cross-Cultural Context

Paul, Payel

After years of displacement and dispossession perpetrated by European colonizers the Australian
Aborigines had come to inhabit a space where they could neither identify with the culture of their
colonizers, nor could they return to their traditional roots which was retained only by a few living in the
outback. Questions of identity became crucial in the 1960s when Aboriginal political activism rejected the
stereotypical constructions of Aboriginality produced by white discourses, and called for a redemption and
reconstruction of Aboriginal identity by the Aborigines themselves. The life-writings penned by Aboriginal
women became very crucial in this redemptive process as they not only questioned western constructs of
Aboriginality, but at the same time voiced a need for a particular ‘ism’ that would prevent the distinct
experiences of the Australian Aboriginal woman from getting subsumed under the universalizing banner
of feminism. The Aboriginal writer and activist Jackie Huggins came up with the term tiddaism to denote
the experiences of Australian Aboriginal womanhood. As tidda means ‘sister’, the term tiddaism also
points towards the group solidarity that is essential in Aboriginal women’s identity formation. This paper
will study the Aboriginal woman, Ruby Langford’s Don’t Take Your Love to Town to explore the several
aspects of Australian Aboriginal womanhood that have been represented in the text, and will try to find
out how those aspects have contributed towards a construction of Aboriginality.

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