Rethinking Social Justice: From Peoples to Populations
1 Jan 2012
Aboriginal Studies Press
In the early 1970s, Australian governments began to treat Aborigines and Torres Strait Islander as 'peoples' with capacities for self-government. Forty years later, confidence in Indigenous self-determination has been eroded by accounts of Indigenous pathology, of misplaced policy optimism and of persistent socio-economic 'gaps'. In his new book, Tim Rowse accounts for this shift by arguing that Australian thinking about the 'Indigenous' is a continuing, unresolvable tussle between the idea of 'people' and the idea of 'population'. In Rethinking Social Justice, Rowse offers snapshots of moments in the last forty years in which we can see these tensions: between honouring the heritage and quantifying the disadvantage, between acknowledging colonisation's destruction and projecting Indigenous recovery from it. Rowse asks, not only 'Can a settler colonial state instruct the colonised in the arts of self-government?', but also, 'How could it justify doing anything less?'