pre-Mabo narratives of Australia

When you   step into history of water and country in Anglo-Australian society you quickly reconnect with the colonisation of Australia,  the  pre-Mabo narratives of Australia as an empty landscape (the doctrine of terra nullius),  the colonialist discourses that we are rooted in colonialist ideologies and legacies and racist law. These justify and legitimate the nigger hunts in the colonial history of frontier conflict involving  white men riding out on hunting expeditions to hunt and exterminate aboriginal people, as an exercise in land clearing.

A core  colonial ideology is  all about progress and destiny, the planting of flags and the arrival of legitimate historical narrative. This settler narrative  is  a heroic tale of the British as the discoverers, explorers and pioneers of the country, of how these white men came to settle a strange country and transform it by their science and technology, capital and labour, thus creating a civilisation out of a wilderness. This narrative  is silent about a population that has been almost exterminated; and it  denies that the wiping of Australian Aborigines  should be considered a genocide.


This discourse  repudiates the alternative  narrative of invasion and dispossession of the original inhabitants.  Section 127 of the Australian Constitution pre-1967, was a section in which Aboriginal Australians were not classified as people but as part of the flora and fauna. This represented the extinguishment of their rights to land.

When digging into this history we quickly encounter the  colonisers agrarian, pastoralist and scientific superiority, that is, the land was seen as empty because it was not being used the way the colonisers believed it should be. Any notion of pre-existence of the colonised  is deemed unnecessary and therefore pre-historical.

The coloniser’s narrative constructs dichotomous representations of the “coloniser” and “colonised”: strong, weak; modern, ancient; civilised, primitive; centre, peripheral; conqueror, victim. These  colonial binary oppositions of “us” and “them” are a legacy of pre-Mabo colonialist discourses in Australian history and literature,  and   this ‘subordinating structure’ where one term ‘governs the other’  is silent about  Aboriginal resistance, survival and self-determination.

The  colonialist assumptions are that Aboriginal Australians cannot determine their own lives or their own futures. They were fringe-dwellers in the colonialists  world, helpless, destitute and stricken,  and demoralised creatures in need of rescue. If some things were wrong over the two hundred years of racial oppression to support white privilege supremacy,   then  aboriginal people should have gotten over it by now.

The colonialist use of law aimed  to render legitimate attempts to destroy Aboriginal peoples as distinct peoples by destroying family and religious networks and force them to assimilate into white society.


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