" II. Aboriginal Appropriations (S. 31-32)
1. Re-Biting the Canon: Mudrooroo's Vampire Trilogy
a. Classics Rewritten
i. Bram Stoker's Dracula
Beginning a study of Aboriginal Gothic with Mudrooroo's vampire trilogy of all works seems odd and rather inappropriate, if not offensive, in the wake of Victoria Laurie's article "Identity Crisis"2 and the fierce debate about Mudrooroo's/Colin Johnson's right to Aboriginality it entailed. A contested issue in its own right, Aboriginality and Torres Strait Islander status is, for administrative purposes and to establish eligibility for services and programs, only open to indigenous people, defined by three criteria which have first been devised by High Court judge Sir WilliamDeane. In his reasoning in Commonwealth v Tasmania, he states that "[b]y "Australian Aboriginal" I mean [. . . ] a person of Aboriginal descent, albeit mixed, who identifies himself as such and who is recognized by the Aboriginal community as an Aboriginal".
These criteria also loom large in the discussion ofMudrooroo's heritage, and it was chiefly his claim to a matrilineal affi liation with the Bibbulmun people of Western Australia which has led to his being accused of having deliberately mis-appropriated an Aboriginal identity – and of having committed a cultural fraud.4 Responses to Laurie's uncoverings range from denyingMudrooroo any rights to Aboriginality, including his chosen name,5 to balanced assessments of what constitutes an Aboriginal identity.
For Nina Smidt,many contributions to this discussion reduce the complex issue of "identity" to mere biological/genealogical categories and fail to take into account notions of a cultural identity.6 Similarly, Mary Ann Hughes criticizes tendencies which narrow Aboriginality to a, by white bureaucratic standards, accurately defined "true" Aboriginality, and exclude other, different, experiences, a strategy which for her is just another tool used by Anglo- Celtic critics to further objectify Aboriginal culture.
Apart from any questions surrounding his biological inheritance, it cannot be denied that Mudrooroo has lived inside Aboriginal culture, experienced white discrimination, and fought for equality and justice formore than four decades, which, as Eva Rask Knudsen rightly observes, "is something literary hoaxes tend to lack".8 His works are, even though ostensibly not written by an Aboriginal writer of maternal Bibbulmun descent, still to be considered informed byMudrooroo's cultural identity which has been shaped by his very own Aboriginal life and experiences, and thus his vampire trilogy can still be read in terms of an Aboriginal Gothic."