By Emma Kowal
In Australia, a ‘tribe’ of white, middle-class, innovative execs is actively operating to enhance the lives of Indigenous humans. This booklet explores what occurs whilst well-meaning humans, supported by means of the kingdom, try to aid with out harming. ‘White anti-racists’ locate themselves trapped through never-ending ambiguities, contradictions, and double binds — a microcosm of the wider dilemmas of postcolonial societies.
These dilemmas are fueled via pressure among the dual wants of equality and distinction: to make Indigenous humans statistically almost like non-Indigenous humans (to 'close the gap') whereas at the same time conserving their ‘cultural’ specialty. This pressure lies on the center of failed improvement efforts in Indigenous groups, ethnic minority populations and the worldwide South.
This publication explains why doing strong is so difficult, and the way it may be performed in a different way.
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Additional resources for Trapped in the Gap: Doing good in Indigenous Australia
18 Some scholars are refusing the mould of indigeneity, fashioning their own identities that may lie between existing categories. Such experiments in self-formation provide examples that White anti-racists may look to in conducting their own identity experiments when the space of recognition becomes too claustrophobic. The aim could be to form non-oppositional, non-stigmatised, non-settler identities – not to let White people ‘off the hook’ or to ignore white privilege, but to move towards a society that does not work against the flourishing of its citizens.
Let us assume a null anthropological hypothesis: that culture is what people do, full stop. 10 Often this ‘end’ is an extremely good idea, such as imposing law and order sufficient to make a community liveable. But the divisions that progressive logic read into Indigenous lifeworlds perform other functions, namely, expressing White anti-racist beliefs and maintaining the viability of White anti-racist subjectivities. 11 As I will illustrate, sanitised difference corresponds to the territory of remediable difference, and unsanitised difference maps onto radical difference.
The sensitivities that produced this reaction also existed in my field site, a space where benevolence held sway. Without exception, those non-Indigenous people who participated in my research were working in Indigenous health because they wanted to help Indigenous people. Despite the widespread suspicion of one’s own and others’ motivations as befitting a ‘mercenary’ (discussed in Chapter 6), none of those I worked with could seriously be categorised that way. My desire to study this group generated a range of responses from actual and potential research participants.
Trapped in the Gap: Doing good in Indigenous Australia by Emma Kowal