Governance, not genocide: Aboriginal assimilation in the Postwar Era

McGregor, Russell (2004) Governance, not genocide: Aboriginal assimilation in the Postwar Era. In: Moses, A. Dirk, (ed.) Genocide and Settler Society : frontier violence and stolen indigenous children in Australian history. Studies on War and Genocide, 6 . Berghahn Books, New York, USA, pp. 290-311.

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This chapter contests recent characterizations of post-1945 Ahoriginal assimilation policies as genocidal.1 Far from seeking elimination of the Aborigines, these policies of sociocultural assimilation were the first in more than a century ro seriously envisage Ahoriginal survival, to seek to ensure survival, and to prescribe strategies predicated upon their survival. Precisely because it envisaged Ahoriginal survival, the postwar state turned more resolutely to their governance. Of course, Ahorigines had earlier been governed, but now their governance would be both nomative and normalized. As part of the project of governance in a modern liberal national polity, Ahorigines were expected, or compelled, to adhere to and internalize the social norms and cultural competencies of the national community. To inculcate these norms and competencies, Aborigines were subjected to various tutelary and educative regimes. Under these, many of the old controls and restrictions remained in place, being gradually lifted only when Aboriginal persons proved themselves, to the satisfaction of officialdom, capable of exercising the rights and privileges of citizenship. In the assimilationist era, roughly the twenty-five years after 1945, the state sought to assert control over the processes of social and cultural change in Aboriginal Australia, to produce Aboriginal citizens who,like other (ideal) citizens, could be governed consensually through their fidelity to the norms and values of the national community.2 Assimilation, I argue, was a project of governance, not of elimination, and analyses that mistake the latter for the former seriously misdiagnose the policy.

Item ID: 460
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-1-57181-410-4
Keywords: Aboriginal Australians; history; government policy; genocide history; assimilation; history
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This publication does not have an abstract. The first paragraph of Introduction is displayed as abstract.

Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2006
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
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