National Conference on Reconciliation, Multiculturalism,Immigration and Human Rights

Dr Catriona Elder

Dr Cath Ellis

Angela Pratt

Faculty of Arts, University of Wollongong, NSW

Reconciliation: Origins, Policy, Practice, Representations, Meanings, Futures

Reconciliation has grown to become one of the fundamental ideas that defines Australian nationhood. As such it has become a normative discourse through which non-Indigenous Australians are encouraged to make sense of their relationships with Indigenous people in Australia. Interestingly this concept has broadened from the way it was originally conceived in the early 1990s to incorporate economic, social, legal and artistic realms of experience.

Regardless of the frequency and currency of its use, the concept of reconciliation has not been adequately interrogated or explored. This paper begins that process by setting up a framework within which this work can be usefully conducted. It chooses six aspects of the concept of reconciliation as it works within the Australian national imagination, offering some starting points from which to conduct broader analytical work. As its point of departure it examines the theological, literary and ideological origins of the concept, and looks at the ways in which it has worked and continues to work in policy and practice. From there it moves to investigate and interrogate the contemporary representations and meanings of reconciliation and finally, considers the future of it as a concept and as a way of understanding relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia.

Presentation Type
60 min paper

University of Technology, Sydney, 1-2 December 2000

Papers & Workshops