chapter  13
16 Pages

Entertaining Possession

Re-Enacting Cook’s Arrival for the Queen 1
WithKatrina Schlunke

This chapter explores how the 1970 Captain James Cook landing re-enactment at Botany Bay can be seen as an extraordinary performance of white race privilege that also played a part in revealing the limits of colonial accounts of history and any adherence to a single view of the past. Greg Dening's comment that the 'energy expended in replication squeezes out everything else' tellingly describes what happens when the pervasive and liminal theatre of the past is replaced by an overt, highly scripted performance of historical acts driven by an idea of 'replication'. Perhaps precisely because of the hallucinatory, patronising nature of the 1970 Captain James Cook landing re-enactment, the best textual riposte is to cover it as just a social event. But as Aileen Moreton-Robinson notes, 'the values required to establish the nation as a white possession are those that were also required to dispossess Indigenous peoples of their lands'.