damien short on the perpetuity of genocide in australia

30Sep10

Damien Short,  ‘Australia: a continuing genocide?’, Journal of Genocide Research 12,  1 (2010)

Abstract:

Debates about genocide in Australia have for the most part focussed on past frontier killings and child removal practices. This article, however, focuses on contemporary culturally destructive policies, and the colonial structures that produce them, through the analytical lens of the concept of genocide. The article begins with a discussion of the meaning of cultural genocide, locating the idea firmly in Lemkin’s work before moving on to engage with the debates around Lemkin’s distinction between genocide and cultural ‘diffusion.’ In contrast to those scholars who prefer the word ‘ethnocide,’ the underlying conceptual contention is that the term ‘cultural genocide’ simply describes a key method of genocide and should be viewed, without the need for qualification, as genocide. While direct physical killing and genocidal child removal practices may have ceased in Australia, some indigenous activists persuasively contend that genocide is a continuing process in an Australia that has failed to decolonise. Concurring with these views the article argues that the contemporary expression of continuing genocidal relations in Australia can be seen principally, and perversely, in the colonial state’s official reconciliation process, native title land rights regime and the recent interventionist ‘solutions’ to indigenous ‘problems’ in the
Northern Territory.



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