Theorising the structural dynamics of ethnic privilege in Aotearoa

Unpacking “this breeze at my back” (Kimmell and Ferber 2003)

  • Helen Moewaka Barnes
    Massey University, New Zealand
  • Belinda Borell
    Massey University, New Zealand
  • Time McCreanor
    Massey University, New Zealand


Colonial praxis has been imposed on the culture, epistemologies and praxis of indigenous Maori in Aotearoa, entrenching the settler cultural project that ensures the continuation of the colonial state, producing damaging disparities. This article theorises ways in which settler privilege works at multiple levels supporting settler interests, aspirations and sensibilities. In institutions, myriad mundane processes operate through commerce, law, media, education, health services, environment, religion and international relations constituting settler culture, values and norms. Among individuals, settler discursive/ideological frameworks are hegemonic, powerfully influencing interactions with Maori to produce outcomes that routinely suit settlers. In the internalised domain, there is a symbiotic sense of belonging, rightness, entitlement and confidence that the established social hierarchies will serve settler interests. This structure of privilege works together with overt and implicit acts of racism to reproduce a collective sense of superiority. It requires progressive de-mobilising together with anti-racism efforts to enable our society to move toward social justice.

Published: 2014-01-01
Pages:1 to 14
Section: Articles
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How to Cite
Barnes, H. M., Borell, B., & McCreanor, T. (2014). Theorising the structural dynamics of ethnic privilege in Aotearoa: Unpacking “this breeze at my back” (Kimmell and Ferber 2003). International Journal of Critical Indigenous Studies, 7(1), 1-14.