The stigma of White privilege: Australian anti-racists and Indigenous improvement

Kowal, Emma 2011, The stigma of White privilege: Australian anti-racists and Indigenous improvement, Cultural studies, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 313-333, doi: 10.1080/09502386.2010.491159.

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Title The stigma of White privilege: Australian anti-racists and Indigenous improvement
Author(s) Kowal, EmmaORCID iD for Kowal, Emma
Journal name Cultural studies
Volume number 25
Issue number 3
Start page 313
End page 333
Total pages 21
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Place of publication Abingdon, Eng.
Publication date 2011-05
ISSN 0950-2386
Keyword(s) White
Summary Beginning in the 1970s, the efforts of the Australian settler state to help its Indigenous minority shifted away from 'assimilation' and embraced the principles of 'self-determination'. According to the rhetoric of the self-determination era - explored in this article as the 'liberal fantasy space' - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians should be in control of efforts to improve their lives, ultimately making state intervention redundant. A by-product of this shift was to radically change the role of non-Indigenous people who sought to participate in Indigenous development. No longer in charge of Indigenous advancement, they were now cast as partners and supporters. This article explores some of the complexities of White anti-racist subjectivities in the self-determination era. It draws on ethnographic research with a group of progressive Whites who work in Indigenous health in northern Australia. A striking feature of contemporary White anti-racist discourse is a reluctance to claim any agency in the process of Indigenous improvement. I argue that applying the concept of stigma to White privilege is a novel and productive approach to understanding this desire for self-effacement. White stigma works in a parallel fashion to the case of liberal Germans who believe the German collective identity is irrevocably tainted by the Holocaust. in the Australian case, the negative characteristics associated with Whiteness act as a barrier to the broader goal of constructing ethical White subjectivities fit for the 'liberal fantasy space' of post-colonial justice. in their attempts to overcome this barrier and transcend White stigma, White anti-racists mobilise the identity tropes of missionary, mother, and child. Ultimately, these efforts at self-fashioning point to the ultimate fantasy of decolonisation: the desire of White anti-racists to disappear.
Language eng
DOI 10.1080/09502386.2010.491159
Field of Research 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology
160803 Race and Ethnic Relations
2002 Cultural Studies
1608 Sociology
2001 Communication And Media Studies
Socio Economic Objective 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2011, Taylor & Francis
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