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The `Stolen Generations' and Cultural Genocide



From around the turn of 20th century up to the 1970s, Australian government authorities assumed legal guardianship of all Indigenous children and removed large numbers of them from their families in order to `assimilate' them into European society and culture. This policy has been described as `cultural genocide', even though at the time it was presented by state and church authorities as being `in the best interests' of Aboriginal children. This article outlines the results of a study of the development of the policy of forced child removal, its antecedents, its surrounding philosophy and politics and the emergence of a more critical understanding of it in recent years, as well as examining the more general implications of this history for the sociology of childhood.
Deficiencies in the treatment of children are almost always understood as somehow ‘external’ to
Europeancultureandcivilization, as flaws inthesocialfabricwhichhavebeen,andcontinuetobe
rectified.Such deficiencies, whatever form they take, might be seen as errors of judgement or
the twentieth century is the ‘century of the child’ (Key 1909), that there is clearly a harmonious
relationship between the unfolding of European civilization around the world and the increasing
latestinaseriesofprofoundchallengestothisconceptionofEuropea ncivilization,and
theroleofchildrenwithinit,wasraisedintheAustraliancontextinMay1997,whena reportissued
bythe AustralianHumanRights andEqualOpportunityCommission(HREOC), BringingthemHome,
stressed that the treatment
of indigenous Australian children by both State and Church agencies
throughoutthiscenturyfalls clearlywithinthetermsoftheUNdefinitionofgenocide.Thedefinition
in the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide includes
‘forcibly transferring children of the group toanother
group’ committed‘with intent todestroy,in
of the findings of the 1989 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, which focused
theirremoval fromtheir families.CommissionerJ.H. Wootten, inhisreportonthedeath(‘suicide’)
of one particular Aboriginal prisoner, Malcolm Smith, spoke of ‘a life destroyed, not by the
of selfrighteous and racist destruction of Aboriginal families that went on under the name of
protection or welfare well into the second half of this century’ (Royal Commission into Aboriginal
Thisisrevisedandextendedversionofapaperfirst given during theSociologyofChildhoodsessionsatthe
World CongressofSociologyinMontreal,26July1August1998.Partsaredrawnfromanotherarticlein
the British Journal of Sociology (van Krieken 1999), and I would also liketo thank Jens Qvortrup, Ivar Frønes
memo on Paul Hasluck’s address to the Anthropology section at the 1959 ANZAAS congress. Hasluckwas
Minister for Territories (19511963), came close to becoming Prime Minister, and later became Governor
General, exercising a strong influence on Australian political culture and public debate. He is particularly
For useful discussions, see Thomas (1994) and Rowse (1999). Peters comments that Hasluck’s statement
offullassimilationof theAboriginesintothenonAboriginal
community’, making ‘no reference to the wishes of the Aborigines as regards their future’ and failing to
was also unimpressed with Hasluck’s response to criticism:
‘Mr Hasluck attacks those who, unaware of the
complexities of the problems facing Aborigines, are bold enough to criticise Government policy. The
implication seems to be that Govt policy, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, is unalterable and
profoundly wise. It may be difficult to argue this point
to overseas critics’ (National Archives of Australia,
At the time, the practice was presented as promoting the welfare of individual Aboriginal
to take a ‘normal’ part in EuropeanAustralian social life. Indeed, many current commentators,
including an exPrime Minister (John Gorton), still
maintain both that the overall effect was
beneficial,andthattheintentions weregood.
almost every point of the policy’s history. During the passage of the New SouthWalesAborigines
Protection Amending Bill in 1915, for example, one Parliamentarian said of the forced removal of
These people are unfortunate because, in the
interests of socalled civilisation, we have
overruntheircountryandtakenawaytheirdomai n.Wenowproposetoperpetratefurther
acts of cruelty upon them by separating the children from the parents. The mothers and
fathers of these children love them just as much as the birds and the
animals of the bush
carefortheiroffspring,andhon.memberswouldnotperpetrateacrueltyofthiskindeve n
upon an animal.....To my mind some better method should be adopted. There should be
some method of direct control over these children, but the child should not be separated
Commission into the Treatment of Aborigines that there was no ‘valid justification for the official
smashing of native family and community life’ and she ‘most earnestly’
asked that ‘the official
smashing of native family life may be stopped, and that native families may be permitted to live
theprop e rconduct
of native communities also’ (Moseley 1935: 225, 229). Jeremy Long points out that in 1951 one
of‘halfcaste’babies fromtheirmothersinaccordancewitha‘cruelgovernmentorder’’
83), and in the 1960shistorian Charles Rowley described the child removal policy as ‘much
criticized’(1962:275),butallthese criticismshadlittlerealeffect.
publishedin1983, and
alargebodyof subsequent historicalresearch, aswellasthe publication of
the reports of two major government inquiries‐the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in
Custody (1989) and the HREOC report (1997)‐that it has become more widely recognized how
hassparkedaremarkablepublic debate
Gaita 1997; Manne 1998), with some political leaders, state governments, religious bodies and
citizen groups having issued apologies for the state‐ and churchsponsored forcible removal
Indigenous children andtheeffectthis has had on Aboriginalindividualsand communities. Others,
notably the Prime Minister, John Howard and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (!), John Herron,
haveremainedtruetoonelongtraditioninAustralianliberalism,andexpressed varyingdegrees of
A1838 557/1). Hasluck was fond of attributing criticism of the management of Aboriginal affairs to a
Communist plot (1988: 97). I am gratefulto SusanTaffe (1995) for drawing my attentionto this memo, and
should concentrate on morepractical endeavours to improve Aboriginal health, housingeducation
Essentially two reasons have been given in Australia for the failure to issue an official
1. historicity‐thereisnoconnectionbetweenthesepast
eventsandpeoplelivin gtoday,sono
reason for apology for those events. The Prime Minister thus declared that ‘Australians of
time they were pursued with the best of intentions. As one newspaper letterwriter
children, but I can not apologise on behalf of the “do
gooders” responsible for it. I am
it is only the ones we mig ht feel regretful about that he wishes to dissociatehimself from. It is, in
totakeup,sinceregret is
actually an important part of our engagement with and reflection on the past (Postema 1991;
Webber 1995). The second point is simply inaccurate, because it is clear that many people at all
times throughout this century drew attention to the destructive features of the
policy, and in any
case demonstration of good intentions does not preclude the possibility of apology for the actual
harmcausedbyparticularactionsinthe past.
case for thefabric of the Australian moralcommunity, with a particular focus on thetreatment of
children. The relationship between European and Indigenous Australian children has broader
fact that the subsequent critique of that practice is also undertaken in the name of ‘civilization’.
“Civilization” was the foundation for citizenship in the modern nationstate, with its achievement
the key condition for the attainment of citizenship rights. The story of the ‘stolen generations’ as
part of a particularly
Australian set of civilizing processes is thus an important example of the
multiple meanings of the concepts ‘civilization’ and ‘citizenship’, with a number of important
By the last quarter ofthe nineteenthcentury, the accepted position inAustralian official discourse
practice was that the Aborigines were a ‘dying race’, and this was based on the notion of the
essential ‘fragility’ of Aboriginal culture in contact with Europeans (Brantlinger 1995; McGregor
way of life‐
militarily, technologically, economically, culturally, socially, and physically.Some
Europeans were distressed and dismayed that this should be so, and it troubled their Christian
pursuing what Pat O’Malley has called ‘gentle genocide throug h a program of enforced eugenics’
Towards the end of the century, however, the picture changed dramatically and produced
quitedifferentconceptualandpracticalconcerns.Notonlywere‘traditional’Aborigines notdying as
quickly as anticipated, but as European settlement spread across the continent, so did contact
between Europeans and Aborigines, including sexual contact, which of course had its inevitable
consequence‐children.Thissexualcontactwasrelativelyprolificin itself,andtheresultantmixed
blood population was also very fertile, so that by around
the 1890s European Australians were
becoming increasingly agitated about what came to be defined as the ‘halfcaste problem’. ‘There
was a growing realisation,’ writes Russell McGregor, ‘that the descendants of a dying race might
By 1936 CecilCook, the
Chief Protector in the Northern Territory, was writing, ‘Myview is
that unless the black population is speedily abso rbed into the white, the process will soon be
reversed, and in 50 years, or a little later, the white population of the Northern Territory will be
absorbed into the black’ (Commonwealth
of Australia 1937: 14). Everything that civilization was
and the past,was thrown intodisarray with the cultural andbiological hybridity characterizing the
‘halfcaste problem’. Mixedbloods were said to inherit the ‘vices’ of
both races and few of their
virtues, and they were regarded as representing precisely those forms of behaviour which the
civilizing process was meant to have overcome, the ‘repressed’ of modern civilization‐ idleness,
nomadism,emotionality,lackofdiscipli neandproductivity,sexualpromiscuity,poorbodilyhygiene,
anda group rather than
anindividual orientation. As Andrew Lattas has summed itup,‘Aborigines
were often constructed as prisoners of unreflexive bodily desire s which they could not control or
Thereweree ssentially twoelements to the resultant ‘civilizing offensive’onthe partofbothState
hybridformfroma‘White Australia’ completely. The first was
totry and regulate the cause of the
problem, the sexual intercourse between whites and blacks, through a system of governance of
Aboriginal movements and relationships, contained within a legislative apparatus concerning the
‘protection’ of Aborigines constructed between the early years of the twentieth century and the
Second, there
was already a particular social technology in place to deal with problems of
socialdiscipline among thedegenerateconvicts and working classes (vanKrieken 1992; Kidd 1998:
generation’hadbeencentral toEuropeanchurchandstateagencies’policies
inrelationtothechildrenofthe poorandtheworkingclasssincethe sixteenthcentury, andwasa
central element of the modern State’s conception of the intersection of family life and liberal
citizenship. Theremoval of Aboriginal children
thus drew on preexistingphilosophies, policies and
institutional practices concerning u nacceptable, ‘problem’ groups in all the Western European
countries and their colonies, so that it is possible to chart the parallels and affinities between the
racismofremovingAboriginalchildrenfortheirAboriginality, andthe classideology underlyingthe
removal of nonindi genous children for the immorality and viciousness of their impoverished
surroundings.Thisisnotaclaimthattherewas somesortofequitabledistributionofstateviolence
between indigenous and nonindigenous families, but it does indicate a certain degree of
The dynamics of the situation in Australiawere different from those in Indonesia analysed by Stoler(1995)
halfcasteAborigines ontheborderbetweenwhiteandblackculturesinmanyrespectsfollowedthe
same logic of governance underlying the fears of the equally sexually dangerous and prolific non
The ‘danger’ which most exercisedEuro pean
Australian minds was the coming together of
two races, rather than the mere existence of Aborigines alongside white Australians. As J.W.
help to pres erve the purity of the white race from the grave social dangers that always threaten
where there is a degraded race living in loose conditions at its back door’ (1961: 124). Although it
oftenseemsthatway,the target of these policies and practiceswas not simply
Aboriginality itself,
becausethatwasmoreorlessacceptabletoEuropeanAustraliansin itstraditio nal,‘fullblood’form,
albeitquaran tined in the desert regionsofthecontinent. What was so problematic anddangerous
was the hybridity of mixedbloods, their threat to the boundaries between the civilized and the
savage. Note,
for example, this extract from the Annual Report of the State Children Relief Board
in1915: ‘Many of such children are so white that, were it not for their presence in camps or in
association with blacks, the average individual would characterize them as practically normal.
Beneaththeskin,howeve r,the
and the eradication of demoralised habits that the work of the expert psychologist and
commentary could provoke would arise from the observation that a
child who ‘looked white’ had
been seen in an Aboriginal settlement. The danger that ‘half castes’ posed was made particularly
women‐perhaps we should say ‘girls’, most of the
time‐which underlay the growth in the ‘half
so that the problem of hybridity and degeneration was in fact already internal to European
civilizationitself. Rather thanattendingto this inconsistencyin the notionof ‘racial
purity’and the
The corresponding practical strategy adopted was simply to make the state the legal
their children, who
were to be removed at official will and sent to a mission, a child welfare
this was introduced in relatively weak form between 1886 and 1909 in all Australian states,
strengthened around1915, and
further reinforced inthe 1930s, by which time, in legal terms, the
The actual number of Aboriginal children removed from their families is unclear, partly
specifically d esignated for Aborigines; some were removed ‘unofficially’ and placed in the care of
went away to white people for a “holiday” and did not return’ (1983: 8). Rowena MacDonald
suggeststhatintheperiod19121962,‘probablytwo outofeverythreepartdescentchildrenspent
1970, and points out both that ‘not one indigenous family has escaped the effects of forcible
removal’ and that ‘most families have been affected, in one or more generations, by the forcible
oflegal guardianship bythe stateoverallindigenouschildren only ceased in
the1960s.Theprimaryandoverarchingconcernwas to‘solve’the‘halfcasteproblem’bybreeding
reproductionamong adult Aborigines. This was certainlythe mo st strongly articulatedargumentin
conferenceoftheleadingauthoritiesinAboriginalaffairsdeclareditsbelief ‘thatthedestinyofthe
natives of aboriginal origin,butnot of full blood, lies intheir ultimate absorption
by the people of
been repla ced by one more organized around a liberal conception of citizenship, and in 1950 Paul
Hasluck told the House of Representatives that ‘Their future lies in association with us, and they
musteither associate with us on standards thatwill givethem fullopportunity to liveworthilyand
happilyor be reduced to the socialstatusofpariahs and outcasts living withoutafirmplace in the
Withinthis second conception of ‘citizenship asassimilation’,itwas also
possible to regard
the state’s and church’s intervention into Aboriginal family life as advancing the ‘welfare’ ofthe
Aboriginal population as a whole, by posing a stark and uncompromising contrast between
membership of the European community, on its terms, and exclusion from civilization itself.
Aboriginalcultureanditsway of
life,especiallyonce it had encountered Europeancivilization,was
the ‘thousands of degraded and depressed people who crouch on rubbish heaps throughout the
of this continent’ (Hasluck 1953: 9; see also Read 1983: 20). Aboriginality was constructed
simply as a ‘primitive social order’ composed of ‘ritual murders, infanticide, ceremonial wife
exchange, polygamy’(Hasluck 1956: 2), so that for Hasluck and most white Australians, the
permanent elimination of Aboriginality from the fabric of Australian social
life was selfevidently
synonymouswithcivilizationandprogressitself, acrucialelementofthetruththat‘theblessingsof
civilizationareworthhaving’.‘Werecognise now,’ said Hasluck, ‘that the nobl esavage can benefit
The destruction of Aboriginal culture and society, both inexorable and planned, via the
,was thusposedintermsofahumanitarian
concern for the welfare of indigenous Australians, and this interpretation is still an important
element of the ‘common sense’ understanding of the practice of forced child removal. As one
trauma for those was done with the intent, while wrong and misinformed, of
“improving” the children's lives. It was not done with malicious intent’ (Steven de Vroom, North
How was such a linkage
betwee n welfare and attempted cultural genocide, mediated through
First, it is important to observe that whatever it was about European models of the
relationship between state
and society which produced Aboriginal child removal is not simply a
“mistake” for which apologies might be issued, but something much more deeply rooted in
Europeansocial, political and legal thought, with profound ongoing implications for social
relationship in Australia, between as well as among indigenous and nonindigenous
people. The
model of citizenshipand theevolution ofindividual rights‐especiallychildren’s rights‐underlying
much of the debate displa ys considerable amnesia about exactly how ‘colonizing’ European social
historyhas beenin relation toitsownsubjectpopulations(Weber1976),and especially inrelation
to children and family life (e.g., Hearst 1997). This
raises the question of the relative success of
European ‘internal’ colonization in comparison to the overall failure to eradicate nonEuropean
than ethnic or racial terms, whereas an ethnically defined community seems to be much more
difficult to eliminate, short of physical genocide. So ethnocultural groupings appear to be more
resistantto attacksontheircitizenship status thanclassdefinedgroupings‐paradoxically,because
theyarealsothemostlikelytohavesuchrestrictionsontheircitize nshipstatus imposedonthem.
Second, liberal social and political thought
rests on a delicate balance between individual
rights and some conception of ‘the social’, or the particular and the universal (Hegel), making it
particular forms. Discussing the more wellknown example of genocide, Detlev Peukert
that National Socialism constituted ‘a particularly fatal form of the tense relationship that runs
through the entire history of social policy between...the ‘normality’ that is to be fostered and
requiredand...the‘nonconformity’thatis to be segregated oreliminated’ (1989: 129). His general
couldbefoundtovarious‘socialquestions’ sothat‘anallianceofscienceandinterventionistsocial
‘gardening’ (Bauman 1987) concep tion of social policy so problematic was
the combination of an
emancipation, selfdetermination and common humanity’ (Peukert 1987: 248). This is what is
have to give attention to hygiene . So long as natives are not living in a way that mak es them
there is no hope for them. We have to improve their hygiene in order to make them acceptable’
comparable histories can be identified in other settlercolonies. There was a parallel concern in
allrespectswith theinhabitantsof theDominion,asspeedilyas theyarefitforthechange’,andin
1917IndianAffairs officer
bodypolitic,andthereisnoIndianquestion,andnoIndiandepartment’(inMcGillivray 1997:143).
But there
were also important differences. In the Canadian context, for example, the strategy
adopted was residential schooling (for roughly a third of the status Indian population) rather than
committee on‘Matters Affecting Native Welfare’, where the followingrecommendation ‘That any aboriginal
whohasreachedastandardofgeneraleducation whichmakeshisattendanceatasecondaryschooladvisable
should be admitted to a “State” secondary school’ has added to it, in Hasluck’s writing, the following
outrightremoval,andCanadianobservershavebeenmorecriticalof thepost1950strend towards
utilisation of the mainstr eam child w elfare system. Suzanne Fo urnier and Ernie Crey have argued
thatunder the residentialschool regime, despitetheirmistreatmentand racistabuse, ‘at leastthe
children stayed in an aboriginal peer group;
they always knew their First Nation of origin and who
their parents were, and they knew that eventually they would be going home’. The child welfare
system, on the other hand, was experienced as a more effective form of ‘child abduction’.
‘Aboriginal children,’ wrote Fournier and Crey, ‘typically vanished with
scarcely a trace, the vast
theirlegal Indianstatus,theirknowle dgeoftheirownFirstNationandeventheir birthnameswere
erased, often forever’ (1997: 81). There are thus both important simila rities and differences
between the organised (governmental and nongovernmental) policies and practices relating to
However, the specific significance of the Australian ‘stolen generations’ history is that it
withallthenegationsofindividualfreedomsandrightswhichthatentails.In fact,itshowshowthe
to unfetter individuals from pernicious social bonds and to imagine individuals and to act towards
them in terms of their abstract
universal equivalence from the point of view of the state’ (1999:
127), and a ‘sociological’ liberalism which instead conceives individuals as integral parts of
collectivities as well, with their communal identity an essential rather than expendable elementof
their relationship to the state. Aimed as juridical liberalism was towards assimilation
into a mono
cultural form of citizenship, the removal of indigenous children was structured around an
individualised conception of wellbeing and welfare, but it was this assimilationist focus on
individuals which helped undermine communal identity, in turn inflicting significant longterm
Zygmunt Bauman has identifie d the more generalizable features of what he calls the
‘assimilatoryproject’withinEuropeanstateformation,andthece ntralityofthatprojecttothevery
natureofthemodernstate.Itwaspartandparceloftheprocessofdismantlingolder, deeplyrooted
forms of
communal life which provid ed alternative, sometimes oppositions frameworks of social
competitive,communalorcorporativesourcesofsocialauthority’(1991b:106).Aspartofthe liberal
111),assimilationwasorganizedarounda toleranceofindividualsbasedonaprofoundintolerance
of differing collective cultural identities, so that ‘tolerant treatment of individuals was inextricably
modern state, at least in its juridical form, has always been to leave all their previous communal
AsHasluckputit:‘thelossofanyvalidanddistinctiveaboriginalcultureiscertaininthecourse of time.The
ancient pride can remain‐and in fact may grow. Those people of Scottish ancestry who delight in strange
the kilts and the poetry of Burns as a cultural force in Australia? The Scot and the Irish and the English
Liberal models of individual rights can never, on the one hand, really detach themselves
Indeed,the rhetoricof liberaldemocracytends todrawattention awayfromthemodelsofsociety
and community which are
in fact being drawn upon, making their problematic effects that much
cultural, and unitary conception of citizenship and community, individualistic li beralism has a
stronglynormalising edgetoitwhichcan,insituationswherethe
There is in fact, then, a powerfultension atthe heart of liberal understandings of childre n
If we simply assume that the two work in harmony, the former will almost always be defined in
and what he calls ‘contractualist’ liber alism, making it possible for us to both ‘celebrate children’s
vast numbers of children deadly, diseased, ignorant, and ravished by every kind of exploitation’
(1995: 1). Rather than simply
being an error in judgement, a mistake for which Australians today
twomuchmorefundamentalflawsburieddeepwithin ‘civilize d’,‘juridical’liberalism,:thedifficulty
defamilialized, and degendered’ criticised by O’Neill (1995: 3)‐produces fo r a comprehension of
identities ‘stretched’ over time both backwards and forwards (van Krieken 1997), and its mono
cultural and organicist conception of ‘society’, which allows only for assimilation
to a single,
individualised and decommunalised ‘way of life’. It is only to extent that both these features of
willnotre emergeinrelationtoanygroupwithouttheprotectionaffordedby
Berndt,R.andBerndt,C.(1952)FromBlacktoWhiteinSouthAustralia .Chicago: University
“assimilated”, not “integrated into Australian life. Ilook toa futurewhen aperson whose greatgrandfather
was an Australian aboriginal will be as proud of the fact as a Scot is rightly proud of his barbaric ancestry’
... As a result of various government policies, many Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families until as late as the 1970s. The generations of children became known as the Stolen Generations (Krieken 1999). Banned from many public gathering places, Indigenous Australians were not counted in the Australian Census until the 1967 constitutional referendum. ...
... However, major societal changes stymied Indigenous peoples from participating in their traditional sports and games, and many all but disappeared (Gorman et al. 2015). Dispossession saw many Indigenous peoples' health deteriorate due to reduction of food provisions from European arrivals (Krieken 1999). Women's lives were particularly disrupted (Goodall 1995), and even today Indigenous Australian women continue to have higher incidences of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiac ailments (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015), for which low physical activity is a notable risk factor. ...
A model can be conceived as something or someone who is endowed with visibility. In contrast, a sport role model (SRM) tends to be demarcated in moral terms. The SRM is said to inspire behaviour and attitude, thereby setting an example to follow. High-profile athletes are widely feted as public figures outside of sport, as happens with celebrities in other contexts (Dix, Phau, and Pougnet 2010). However, challenging a ‘virtuous cycle of sport’ (Grix and Carmichael 2012, p. 76) where, owing to a trickle-down effect, the broader population draws inspiration from athletes, takes up sport activities or increases their physical activity levels (Ishigami 2019), research shows that ‘only 10 percent of elite athletes have been inspired by other elite athletes … to start with their current sport’, and even fewer inspire young people to live as ‘model’ citizens (De Croock, De Bosscher, and van Bottenburg 2012). However, on the other hand, scholars suggest that female role models, including family members, friends and other community and elite sports people, promote girls’ and women’s participation in sport activities and programs (Adriaanse and Crosswhite 2008, McGuire-Adams 2017). Still, scholars remain unconvinced about the efficacy of a ‘role model effect’ in terms of sport engagement (Adair 2015). While this tension is acknowledged, the situation appears somewhat different for a small cohort of Australian sportswomen—Indigenous women and girls (Stronach, Maxwell, and Taylor 2015).
... To have a strong contextual understanding of the complexity that exists for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners working in child protection in Australia, one must first understand the history of the State's intervention into the lives of Indigenous people, in particular, the raising of children. When the British arrived in Australia in 1788, they declared the country 'Terra Nullius', meaning the land was owned by no one and therefore free for ownership to be assumed (Atkinson 2002;Krieken 1999). The declaration of 'Terra Nullius' was the framework from which the colonisers deemed Aboriginal people as flora and fauna and therefore not capable of self-agency. ...
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are disproportionately represented in all parts of the child protection system in Australia. The recruitment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners into child protection systems to work with Indigenous families at risk underpins the government strategy to reduce this over-representation. However, little is known about the experiences of Indigenous people who undertake child protection work or what their support and supervision needs may be. This research is centered on Indigenous Australian child protection practitioners as experts in their own experiences and as such includes large excerpts of their own narratives throughout. Practitioner narratives were collected via qualitative semi-structured in-depth interviews. Critical theory and decolonising frameworks underpinned the research design. The study found that Indigenous child protection practitioners have a unique place in the families, communities and profession. Many viewed their work in the child protection field as an extension of their Indigeneity. This coupled with the historical experience of state-sanctioned removal of Indigenous children during colonisation and contemporarily, informs the need for child protection workplaces to re-think the support and supervision afforded to Indigenous practitioners.
As genetic knowledge continues to strengthen notions of identity in Euro-American societies and beyond, epigenetic knowledge is intervening in these legitimation frameworks. I explore these interventions in the realm of assisted reproduction—including adoption, donor conception, and gestational surrogacy. The right to identity is protected legally in many states and receives due attention in public and private international law. Originating from the context of adoption, donor-conceived and surrogacy-born persons have recently demanded the same protections and focused on the right to genetic knowledge. This article explores possible implications of epigenetic knowledge on identity. I start by articulating the deep influence of genetics on the notion of identity, and how this unfolds in legal contexts. Next, I examine how epigenetic findings that stress the importance of seeing biological life as situated and embedded in environments can challenge how adoption, donor conception, and gestational surrogacy are experienced and understood. While I argue that epigenetic knowledge can reify identity with the same determinism underpinning genetics, it can also allow for more biosocial understandings of identity that consider history and experience as entangled with biology.
Writers have devoted too little attention to the question of the appropriate limits of the state. There seems to be a tacit assumption that wise, well-meaning statesmen will translate philosophers’ insights into good policy. I suggest that it is more likely to find that government leaders in large nations are narcissistic, power-obsessed, and corrupt. The necessity for protecting children’s needs must balanced against the need to maintain the integrity of private spaces against the sorts of governments that are likely to wield authority. I propose seven principles that undergird this balance, and that will be reified in the State Intervention Test in the next chapter. These principles are family primacy, pluralism, political realism, negotiation, limitation of government scope, diffusion of government power, and sufficientarianism. Essentially, I seek a political process with constitutional guarantees of liberty. My vision derives from a contemporary movement in political theory known as political realism. Needs must ultimately be determined politically, and are reified through a political process as guarantees of minimum fulfillment of important interests. The idea that the state should provide such a floor is called sufficientarianism. The levels of sufficiency are established through a modus vivendi. There is no non-controversial principled justification, so I use sentiment to justify my political realist solution. First, it is based on compassion, and possibly solidarity. Second, it encompasses the notion of self-insurance; any of us may fall below a sufficient level without the state providing a floor. Finally, the existence of a social net promotes the legitimacy of societal institutions, including the state, thus promoting social harmony and order.
This chapter aims to create a respectful conversation between Elias’s theory and Indigenous perspectives and to sketch out a research programme in this respect. The contention rests on the idea that Eliasian thinking could be useful to help Western thinkers understand Indigenous accounts of the social world, and how they might correct some weaknesses of Elias’s work. Even if Indigenous peoples have gained more visibility on the international scene, they still face many issues, including systemic discrimination and violence. We think that addressing this enduring colonial legacy is one of the biggest challenges we face before we can form a true world cosmopolitan society. We examine the commonalities shared by Eliasian thinking and some Indigenous worldviews; we outline the high degree of self-restraints and organisation found in pre-contact Indigenous communities; we discuss the effect of monopolisation processes on Indigenous peoples; and finally, we highlight what Indigenous knowledge could contribute to ecological debates.
This chapter briefly surveys the history of race relations and the political implications of racism in Australia, highlighting the key moments that shaped the place of race in the country’s collective national identity. This includes a discussion on how racism evolved with colonialism in the context of the capitalist demand for labour, and the way it was used to justify the continuation of the settler colonial project. It explores the two distinct but interconnected aspects of Australian racial history: relations between settler-invaders and Indigenous Peoples, and the White Australia Policy that racially restricted immigration, particularly from Asian countries. The roots of racism are embedded in a history marked by wars, dispossession and colonial expansion that advanced racist violence, conceptualised in the literature as settler colonialism. Such sustained racist and exclusionary colonial projects have ensured the continued dominance of White Anglo-Europeans for more than two centuries with long-term adverse impact on Indigenous Peoples who endured violence and other racist policies that denied their dignity and rights, and forcibly removed Indigenous children. Scholars have argued that segregationist and assimilationist policies institutionalised racism in Australia, and helped maintain Anglo-Celtic hegemony and white domination. Post-War skilled and unskilled labour needs played a key role in affecting immigration policy in Australia, and led to the arrival of non-British migrants from Europe. As Australia’s demography kept changing because of the expanding migration programs, the racially motivated assimilationist project faltered. Since then Australia has gradually moved in the multicultural direction as cultural diversity has increased. Yet, Australian multiculturalism continues to unequally positions different ethnic groups, and privileges Anglo-Celtic heritage within the national framework, including in institutional power and in political leadership. Interpersonal and institutional racism remain entrenched in Australia, as evidenced in everyday racism, anti-migrant sentiments and extreme levels of Indigenous incarceration. This chapter also discusses the social climate of Australian race relations in the context of various policies including the White Australia Policy, the Racial Discrimination Act and Australia’s multicultural policies and their impact on both interpersonal and institutional racism.
Indigenous family life has been a key target of family and child policies in Australia since colonisation. In this paper, we identify four main policy eras that have shaped the national and state policy frameworks that have impacted Indigenous families: the protectionism, assimilation, self‐determination and neoliberalism eras. Our analysis of these national and state policy frameworks reveals an enduring and negative conceptualisation of Indigenous family life. This conceptualisation continues to position Indigenous families as deficient and dysfunctional compared with a white, Anglo‐Australian family ideal. This contributes to the reproduction of paternalistic policy settings and the racialised hierarchies within them that entrench Indigenous disempowerment and reproduce Indigenous disadvantage. Further, it maintains a deficit paradigm that continues to obfuscate the positive aspects of Indigenous family life that are protective of Indigenous well‐being.
In this article I examine regulatory regimes of mobility through the case of transnational adoption. In particular, I focus on ‘return’ journeys by adoptees and their entanglement the ‘right to know’. Backed up by international law, the right to know in the adoption context includes the right to know one’s biological parents, one’s birth culture, and the right to information (for instance, medical information). At large, the ‘right to know’ signals a valuation of openness. But what are the problems that come with knowledge and information? What does the imperative of openness do to kinship relations? Looking at a number of instances where institutions discuss the necessities and implications of return journeys, I demonstrate in this article that ‘the right to know’ is inextricably linked to moral economies of kinship. Returns make visible the transaction of adoption and the exchangeability of the adoptee body. I discuss how adoptees are implicated in this moral economy but also how they, as subjects, negotiate, destabilise, or refuse openness as imperative. I argue that in the end, while the ‘right to know’ allows the discovery of relations, it also fails to acknowledge the invention of relations.
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This paper argues for the integration of a greater awareness of reproductive conduct into sociological theory and research. Instead of conceiving the relationship between demography and sociology as one where sociological concepts are used to illuminate demographic concerns, the paper works towards the development of a demographic perspective in sociological understandings of modern society and its historical development. The argument will be for the notion of the `reproductive self', with a greater emphasis on understanding human identity as stretching over time and generations, rather than as self-contained, timeless and autonomous. The paper will show that such a conception of human identity enables us to improve our understanding of a range of theoretical issues, including the relation between social structure and action and the rationality of human action, as well as revealing the historical roots of a number of long-term trends which are usually treated as changes typical of the second half of the twentieth century.
With the growing strength of minority voices in recent decades has come much impassioned discussion of residential schools, the institutions where attendance by Native children was compulsory as recently as the 1960s. Former students have come forward in increasing numbers to describe the psychological and physical abuse they suffered in these schools, and many view the system as an experiment in cultural genocide. In this first comprehensive history of these institutions, J.R. Miller explores the motives of all three agents in the story. He looks at the separate experiences and agendas of the government officials who authorized the schools, the missionaries who taught in them, and the students who attended them. Starting with the foundations of residential schooling in seventeenth-century New France, Miller traces the modern version of the institution that was created in the 1880s, and, finally, describes the phasing-out of the schools in the 1960s. He looks at instruction, work and recreation, care and abuse, and the growing resistance to the system on the part of students and their families. Based on extensive interviews as well as archival research, Miller's history is particularly rich in Native accounts of the school system. This book is an absolute first in its comprehensive treatment of this subject. J.R. Miller has written a new chapter in the history of relations between indigenous and immigrant peoples in Canada. Co-winner of the 1996 Saskatchewan Book Award for nonfiction. Winner of the 1996 John Wesley Dafoe Foundation competition for Distinguished Writing by Canadians Named an 'Outstanding Book on the subject of human rights in North America' by the Gustavus Myer Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America.
Australia in the early 1960s straddled two worlds. The tie with Britam both in terms of trade and in the less tangible area of a sense of heritage and identity was still strong. The British Empire defined and shaped an Australian view of the world. For many, it was a symbol of security and good in a world divided by the Cold War. In the 1960s, however, Australia's view of itself within the Empire was fundamentally challenged by three factors which I will examine in this article, namely: relations between new nations and fanner colonial powers; the spread of Communism, especially in Asia; and the perceived role of the United States of America safeguarding democracy. Neil JiIIett, writing in a prominently displayed feature article in the Age on Australia Day, 1961, reminded readers that if we 'reflect deeply upon our nationhood, we remember that we are part of the Commonwealth of nations'. I This comforting view of Australia as a 'distant outpost of Empire' displayed a blinkered nostalgia which took little account of events outside Australia's borders. Australian diplomats in politically sensitive posts, and their Departtnent of External Affairs colleagues back in Canberra whose job it was to guide them, were interrogated about Australian policy with regard to Aboriginal people. Some of the questions asked of Australian diplomats in Africa, the United Nations and eastern Europe proved difficult to answer. This article is a study of the effect on Australia of the emergence of race issues in international diplomacy during 1961 and 1962, and the responses of senior staff in the Department of External Affairs to those issues. Prime Minister Menzies was responsible for the External Affairs portfolio from February 1960 with Garfield Barwick taking over from him in December 1961. Paul Hasluck, as Minister for Territories, was responsible in turn, for the development and implementation of special policies for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. The period under discussion is prior to the 1967 referendum so, consequently, the Commonwealth did not have power to 'make special laws' for 'the Sue Taffe completed a Masters degree in History in 1995 and is currently working on an oral history of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSl) in partnership with the Melbourne based Koori Arts Collective. This project has been funded by the Australia Foundation for Culture and the Humanities, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and the Lance Reichstein Foundation and is supported by the Department of History, Monash University. N. Jillett, 1961:2.
[Extract] By 1951 A.P. Elkin, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Sydney, had acquired an international academic reputation, as well as being the dommant figure within his discipline in Australia. In that year he published 'Reaction and Interaction: A Food Gathering People and European Settlement in Australia', in which he set out the phases through which the relations between Aborigines and Europeans had supposedly passed since first colonisation of this country. 1 It was the most comprehensive study of what Elkin termed 'culture contact' that he had yet published, and remained probably the most detailed and best-known of his many articles on this topic. According to his biographer, Tigger Wise, Elkin chose American Anthropologist for the publication ofthis article because he felt that this prestigious journal 'would give it the most exposure', and he 'fiercely' defended his words against the editorial intervention of Melville Herskovits.2 Certainly, Elkin regarded this article as important. Unlike many of his other published works, 'Reaction and Interaction' was drafted and revised many times, apparently over a period of some years, before finally appearing in print.3 Its argument, the phases of contact and the terminology used to describe it, were recycled again and again in the numerous lectures, addresses and articles which Elkin gave and published in the 1950s and 1960s. Of the terms employed in 'Reaction and Interaction', the most memorable - and subsequently the most frequently repeated - was 'intelligent parasitism', coined by Elkin to describe the employment situation on northern Australian pastoral stations where Aborigines exerted a minimum of effort in exchange for bare subsistence.
Introduction. 1. The Scandal of Ambivalence. 2. Social Construction of Ambivalence. 3. Self--Construction of Ambivalence. 4. A Case Study in the Sociology of Assimilation (I):. Trapped in Ambivalence. 5. A Case Study in the Sociology of Assimilation (II):. Revenge of Ambivalence. 6. Privatization of Ambivalence. 7. Postmodernity, or Living with Ambivalence.