Crossing into the Cultural Other: A Dialogic Reading Strategy.


  • Stephen Nicholas Rankin Murdoch University


Cross-cultural dialogism, hybridity, reading strategy, tourism, Indonesia


What can Western literature do in the face of heterological reality? Drawing on the theories of Homi Bhabha and Tzvetan Todorov, this paper explores the difficulties facing Western writers of fiction in regard to their participation in postcolonial discourse. It suggests that the West is limited by its [un]hybridity to a space outside of dialogic discourse and restricted either to an endless loop of self-reference or the appropriation of the voices of otherness. The article, however, goes on to argue that textual dialogism can provide an avenue for the negotiation of difference for the reader: a conversational space within which both sides can speak and be heard without crossing the line into cultural appropriation. I suggest that this can take place through the cross-culturally dialogic reading of novelistic discourse which has the capacity to loosen and re-entangle liminalities in the consciousness of the reader through the internal and socially-contextualised experience of culturally divergent voices that share a common literary space. The applicability of dialogism as a reading strategy will be considered in relation to two texts, Inez Baranay's Australian novel, The Edge of Bali, and Gerson Poyk's Indonesian short story, 'Kuta, di Sini Cintaku Kerlip Kemerlap', which explore fictional encounters between Australian female tourists and Indonesian men.


Author Biography

Stephen Nicholas Rankin, Murdoch University

Stephen Rankin is a Lecturer in Language and Literacy at Murdoch University where he teaches academic writing and critical thinking. Prior to teaching in universities in Australia, the UK and Brunei Darssalam he lived and taught in Indonesia for six years. His research interests include postcolonial literary theory, cultural studies, Indonesian literature studies and literacy theory. He has also been closely involved with the development of language and literacy alternative entry programs for low socioeconomic status students entering the tertiary education system in Perth.






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