Punitive Heterotopia in Ann Turner’s Celia (1988)

Whybray, Adam (2018) Punitive Heterotopia in Ann Turner’s Celia (1988). Childhood Remixed, May 18. pp. 142-156. ISSN 2515-4516

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Ann Turner's 1988 film Celia is set amongst the suburbs of Melbourne in the 1950s during the "Red scare" of the Menzies administration. When 9-year-old Celia's grandma dies, Celia finds emotional solace in the company of her next door neighbours, the Tanners. Celia's conservative father, Ray, attends to stop his daughter from associating with the communist-sympathising Tanners through the gift of a rabbit. In the 1950s attempts to cull Australia's "rabbit plague" involved the widespread banning of rabbits as household pets. When Celia's pet rabbit is taken from her she seeks retribution against the forces of patriarchal domination in her life, including her father and uncle. This retribution involves stylised magick rituals, staged judicial "performances" and acts of direct violence.

This paper argues, after Foucault, that, divested of political power as a girl and a child, Celia establishes a phantastical heterotopia that sits radically outside of the hegemonic power structures of conservative Australia. This opens a radical potential for a judicial approach that reflects a child's experiential understanding of the world. Tragically Celia's imitation modelling ensures her replication of the retributive model of punishment of her adult milieu (both in its treatment of communists and rabbits), albeit with a degree of public spectacle repressed by the private space of the adult penal system. More optimistically, Celia's stagings also contain elements of restorative justice. The paper concludes with a consideration of how a penal model based upon restorative justice for under 18s would better serve children's development and rehabilitation.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ann Turner, childhood, film, children on film, Australian cinema, heterotopia, children's rights, space and place
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Business & Applied Social Science > Department of Arts & Humanities
Depositing User: Adam Whybray
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2020 10:34
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2020 10:34
URI: https://oars.uos.ac.uk/id/eprint/1177

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