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Cartographies of the Colonial/Capitalist State: A Geopolitics of Indigenous Self-Determination in Australia

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‘Indigenous self-determination’ is a multivalent term that has come to represent various meanings in different political and cultural contexts. Indigenous peoples' strategies for self-determination have become increasingly prominent in the domestic polities of many ‘first-world’ nations, and in the sphere of international law and human rights. These strategies have challenged the cartography of the nation-state with competing claims to land ownership, sovereignty, and self-governance. In Australia, indigenous strategies for self-determination are diverse and holistic and revolve around issues including land rights, law, environmental management, and control over service provision. These are evident in a variety of both ‘elite’ and ‘popular’ geopolitical texts. Meanwhile, Australian governments have created new structures that have attempted to encapsulate meanings of ‘self-determination,’ allowing some indigenous decision-making control, whilst entrenching the nation-state's ultimate hegemony over land. The geopolitics of indigenous strategies for self-determination, and tensions concerning the meaning of the term, are examined, revealing some ways in which discursive trends and material structures interact in locally produced relations of power.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Publication date: 1999-01-01

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