The Shapeshifting Girl is a book I began a few weeks after arriving in Australia. The idea came to me when studying the concept of monism in the anthropology class Sex, Drugs, and Human Culture at James Cook University. Monism is the notion distinctions and dualities do not exist in the lived world (i.e. everything is made of one thing). The Shapeshifting Girl represents this topic in that it focuses on a young girl who has the ability to change her form fluidly between all types of life. When she is told she is “just a girl” she must struggle to understand her place as a necessary part of the web of life and to find a way to thrive. The story is as close to a representation of my own time and growth in Australia in the way it handles themes of connection to nature and sense of self. It would not have been possible without the Australian landscape, fauna, or people.
Julia Dunn is an Environmental Studies student at Bates College and studied abroad with IFSA-Butler at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia in 2015.