a. dirk moses on official apologies, citizenship and settler colonialism


A. Dirk Moses, ‘Official apologies, Reconciliation, and Settler Colonialism: Australian Indigenous Alterity and Political Agency’, Citizenship Studies 15, 2 (2011).

The burgeoning literature on transitional justice, truth commissions, reconciliation and official apologies tends to ignore the conditions of settler states in which ‘reconciliation’ needs to take account of indigenous minorities. The settler colonialism literature is worth including in the general discussion because it is exceptionally reflective about political theory (the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights) and ethnogenesis (the origin and viability of both settler and indigenous identities), challenging mainstream liberalism, in particular, to account for difference beyond platitudes about multiculturalism. This article highlights the postcolonial critiques of the Australian governments’ apology to the indigenous peoples of the country. The authors of these critiques seek to protect indigenous alterity from the Australian state, which they regard as irredeemably colonialist, especially in its liberal and progressive mode. The article suggests that Indigenous political agency transcends the resistance/co-option dichotomy presented in much of the apology’s commentary.

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