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Staircases, pyramids and poisons: the immunitary paradigm in the works of Noel Pearson and Peter Sutton

journal contribution
posted on 2013-01-01, 00:00 authored by Timothy NealeTimothy Neale
The recent focus on the category of culture provoked by Peter Sutton's The Politics of Suffering (2009) has revived questions of the meaning and utility of indigenous alterity in Australia. The end of the liberal consensus, contemporary with a declared end of ideology in Australian Indigenous† public policy, has been doubled in post-ethnic academic work harbouring a renewed suspicion of what Dombrowski (2010, 21: 129-140) has called indigeneity's distinctive sympathy. Within a cultural economy of commensurability, the fact that political claims are often contingent on the indigenous people themselves maintaining sufficient alterity to warrant the special treatment afforded them is taken by some as proof of voluntarism and bad faith. In order to gauge this immanent reorientation of indigeneity in Australia, this paper surveys the works of two prominent figures in policy debates-the anthropologist Peter Sutton and indigenous public intellectual Noel Pearson-who have both argued that remote Indigenous communities suffer from a cultural pathology. This paper presents a conceptual critique of their popular press works between 2000 and 2011. Within the context of post-ethnic government policy after self-determination and scholarship after identity, this paper contends that we are witnessing the (re)appearance of an equalitarian humanism which proposes, following Esposito [2008 (Orig. pub. 2004)], to immunize indigenous polities and the settler-colonial state against the historical frames and alterity of indigeneity.

History

Journal

Continuum: journal of media & cultural studies

Volume

27

Issue

2

Pagination

177 - 192

Publisher

Routledge

Location

Abingdon, Eng.

ISSN

1030-4312

eISSN

1469-3666

Language

eng

Publication classification

X Not reportable; C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2013, Taylor & Francis