Normalising settler rule; indigeneity as disability: Karen Soldatic, ‘Postcolonial reproductions: disability, indigeneity and the formation of the white masculine settler state of Australia’, Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture, 2015


Abstract: There has been a growing debate within the broad field of postcolonial scholarship which seeks to challenge both its territorial boundaries with the advent of globalization and its limitations when applied to the realm of white-settler societies. The debate has been extremely fruitful in situating emerging scholarship that seeks to extend postcoloniality, its theoretical framing, and the internal processes of social categorization for peoples caught within the nation-state’s territorial sphere. Unfortunately, disability and indigeneity remain largely absent from these fresh debates; or when included, are explored as singular fields of analytical inquiry with little intersectional dialogue. With this paper, I aim to extend these nascent debates by critically engaging with both disability and indigeneity as two interlocking sites of (post)colonial nation-state power. To explicate this argument, my analysis focuses on a key historical moment in the Australian experience – the formation of the colonial white-settler society of Australia in its early years (1901–1920s), comparing and contrasting the systems of administrative management of disability and indigeneity. In doing so, the paper reveals the deep materialities of white, able-bodied, masculine, (post)colonial settler rule that bring together disability and indigeneity via gender reproductive controls. The conclusion reflects on the transformative effects of managing transgressive bodies and minds under the white able-bodied settler state and the potential this opens to negotiate practices of solidarity.

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