Highly-governed inclusion as exclusion (and its negotiation): Alexander Page, ‘The Australian settler state, Indigenous agency, and the Indigenous sector in the twenty first century’, Australian Political Studies Association, 2015


Abstract: The Indigenous Sector – thousands of community organisations providing both service delivery and political advocacy functions for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia – occupies a distinct position in the national polity. Indigenous community organisations are largely government funded and incorporated under Commonwealth and state legislation; yet they are a key way for Indigenous populations to speak back to the state through making political, economic, social, and cultural claims which have largely been ignored. While the settler colonial governance environment ensures both highly-governed inclusion and the continued exclusion of Indigenous peoples today, Indigenous populations negotiate this environment using their agency to establish and maintain these unique community organisations. Therefore, the Indigenous Sector should be positioned within this settler colonial environment with both its structural constraints and enabling devices, along with an investigation of the political capacity of people in the day-to-day in future analysis. This paper presents such a theoretical schema. Beginning with a discussion of political sociology and serious games, this paper establishes a theoretical discussion of the Australian settler state as an all-embracing, top-down, settler colonial structure; highlights the reflexive agency of Indigenous Australian populations and explains the power relations between these structures and community organisations; and critically explores how the Indigenous Sector negotiates the settler state governance environment of contemporary Australia.

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