National Conference on Reconciliation, Multiculturalism,Immigration and Human Rights

Dr Aileen Moreton-Robinson
Convenor, Indigenous Studies, School of Humanities, Griffith University, Queensland

A Possessive Investment in Patriarchal Whiteness: Nullifying Native Title

Whiteness in its dominant contemporary form in Australian society is Anglocised, institutionalised and culturally based. Australian culture is less White than it used to be, but Anglocised Whiteness forms the centre where white men established institutions encouraging a possessive investment in whiteness (Moreton-Robinson 1998:11). Colonial and subsequent governments legitimated the appropriation of Indigenous lands, racialised incarceration and enslavement and limited naturalised citizenship to white immigrants (Lipsitz 1998). While blackness was congruent with Indigenous subjugation and subordination, patriarchal whiteness was perceived as being synonymous with freedom and citizenship.

This paper argues that patriarchal whiteness is imbued with power. It confers dominance and a property right that has consequences for the distribution of wealth, status and opportunity in Australia for Indigenous people. This will be demonstrated through an analysis of the discourse about native title with reference to the Mabo and Wik decisions, amendments to the Native Title Act (1993) and recent decisions made by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Dr Aileen Moreton-Robinson is a Geonpul woman from Quandamooka (Moreton Bay). She has been involved in the struggle for Indigenous rights at local, state and national levels, and has worked for a number of Indigenous organisations. She is currently convenor of Indigenous Studies at Griffith University.

Presentation Type
30 min paper

University of Technology, Sydney, 1-2 December 2000

Papers & Workshops