RETHINKING SOCIAL JUSTICE: FROM 'PEOPLES' TO 'POPULATIONS'

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In the early 1970s, Australian governments began to treat Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders as ‘peoples’ with capacities for self-government. Forty years later, confidence in Indigenous self-determination has been eroded by accounts of Indige...

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RETHINKING SOCIAL JUSTICE: FROM 'PEOPLES' TO 'POPULATIONS'

In the early 1970s, Australian governments began to treat
Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders as ‘peoples’ with capacities
for self-government. Forty years later, confidence in Indigenous
self-determination has been eroded by accounts of Indigenous
pathology, of misplaced policy optimism and of persistent socioeconomic
‘gaps’. In this collection of new and revised essays, Tim
Rowse accounts for this shift by arguing that Australian thinking
about the ‘Indigenous’ is a continuing, unresolveable tussle between
the idea of ‘people’ and the idea of ‘population’.
Rowse’s essays offer snapshots of moments in the last forty
years in which we can see these tensions: between honouring the
heritage and quantifying the disadvantage, between acknowledging
colonisation’s destruction and projecting Indigenous recovery from
it. Rowse asks not only ‘Can a settler colonial state instruct the
colonised in the arts of self-government?‘, but also, ‘How could it
justify doing anything less?’
Timothy Rowse is a Professorial Fellow at the University of Western
Sydney. He has taught at Macquarie University, the Australian
National University and Harvard University. Since the early 1980s, his
research has focused on the relationships between Indigenous and
other Australians.

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