Whitefellas at the Margins
The politics of going native in post-colonial Australia
Within the context of the Australian higher education sector and the organisational interactions facilitated by a university, the politics of Anglo-Australian identity continues to limit the ability of ‘whitefella’ Australians to engage with Indigenous people in a way that might be said to be truly ethical and self-transformative. Instead, the identity politics of Anglo-Australia, a politics that originates in the old colonial stories of the 19th century, continues to function in a way that marginalises those individuals who choose to engage in a way that goes beyond the organisational rhetoric of government and civil institutions in promoting causes such as reconciliation and ‘closing the gap’. The history of Australian colonialism teaches us that, when a deep and productive engagement between settler and native has occurred, the stability of Anglo-Australian identity is destabilised as the colonial establishment is reminded of Indigenous dispossession and the moral and legal legitimacy of the contemporary Australian state become subject to problematic questions that arise from this fact of Australian history. Framing the contemporary context of change and resistance, the authors discuss the importance of inclusive institutional practice, in the quest for a democratic modelling that points to a pathway for a truer recognition, acceptance and inclusion of Indigenous peoples in the ‘mainstream’ of Australian university life.