Australian Studies, Volume 3, Series 2 (2011)

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Circus Oz and Kangaroos: Performing Fauna and Animalness for Geo-National Identity

Peta Tait


This article analyses the significance of the acrobatic human kangaroo acts in Circus Oz shows. This is framed by a consideration of the kangaroo as performer in international circus acts particularly in the early twentieth-century and the persistence of Australian animal identity as a feature of modernist popular culture up until the early 1970s in England. The essay engages with the kangaroo as emblematic of Australian identity and argues that the Circus Oz human kangaroo act provided a strong statement about human exploitation, even while the act also made fun of the human capacity to remake the nonhuman animal in its own image.

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