Muldoon, Paul & Adrian Little: Indigenous reconciliation opens old wounds

Muldoon, Paul & Adrian Little

Indigenous reconciliation is hard, it re-opens wounds to heal them‘, The Conversation, 11 May 2016

First of a series, linking from this article, about the issues surrounding reconciliation (or treaty), starting from the assumption that ‘Australia is being held back by its unresolved relationship with its Indigenous population’. In theory, reconciliation is about the restoration of a ‘right relationship’ or the end of an estrangement. But this raises questions about what practical steps are required to achieve this outcome, to come to terms with the past.

While the pursuit of reconciliation will, by its very nature, press settler colonial states towards a difficult confrontation with their own past, it is, in essence, a nation-building project. Reconciliation’s end goal is always unity – the consolidation of the nation-state as an undivided whole: one land, one people.

But in the case of settler societies, such processes have tended to unleash political dynamics that are either difficult to contain within the framework of reconciliation (such as claims for indigenous sovereignty), or that throw the very possibility of reconciliation into question (such as accusations of genocide).

Other articles in the series look at the experience of other countries, starting with Aotearoa New Zealand.

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