Black Politics: Inside the Complexity of Aboriginal Political Culture

Black Politics: Inside the Complexity of Aboriginal Political Culture

Black Politics: Inside the Complexity of Aboriginal Political Culture

Black Politics: Inside the Complexity of Aboriginal Political Culture

Synopsis

Drawing on extensive interviews with activists and politicians, Black Politics explains the dynamics of Aboriginal politics. It reveals the challenges and tensions that have shaped community, regional, and national relations over the past 25 years. Since the early 1990s Aboriginal Australia has experienced profound political changes with very real and lasting implications, from the Mabo land rights case in 1992 and the abolition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) in 2005, to more recent attempts to reduce the autonomy of remote communities. Sarah Maddison identifies the tensions that lie at the heart of all Aboriginal politics, arguing that until Australian governments come to grips with this complexity they will continue to make bad policy with disastrous consequences for Aboriginal people. She also offers some suggestions for the future, based on the collective wisdom of political players at all levels of Aboriginal politics.

Excerpt

The epic drama of Australia's colonisation and the contemporary re lationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people that has been forged by relentless oppression—by the gun and application of administrative law in a story 220 years in the making—is an extraordinary challenge to write.

Thirty years ago, Kevin Gilbert provided a stage for the voices of diverse Indigenous people to be heard in his classic book Living Black. That book took mainstream Australia on a journey into the heart of Indigenous nations, revealing the anger, trauma and hopes of black people through the searing power of an Aboriginal-held pen. Gilbert captured an historic mood of Aboriginal Australia's political resurgence as black men and women throughout the nation rallied to the potential for change inspired by leaders such as Vincent Lingiari and the people who set up the tent embassy in Canberra.

This was a time in history when the window of despair for Indigenous Australia opened ever so slightly to allow a flickering vision that this nation could transcend its history and shape a future where Aboriginal and non-Indigenous people could share this country in respectful coexistence. For many of us it was that vision, together with a belief that justice for the dispossessed and the colonised in this nation is possible, that shaped our life journey. Yet we still faced the power and greed of people who perceive that controlling the land and its natural resources . . .

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