Nyungar wiring boodja : Aboriginality in urban Australia
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The present thesis examines the themes of ‘shared history,’ ‘place-making,’ and ‘reconciliation’ to assess how these come together in the establishment of an Aboriginal identity in Perth, Western Australia. Focusing on individuals who do not represent the common stereotypes associated with Aboriginal Australians, it will be demonstrated that these individuals are forced into an in-between place where they have to continually negotiate what Aboriginality means in the twenty-first century. Taking on this responsibility they become mediators, stressing a ‘shared history’ in order to create a place for themselves in the non-Aboriginal landscape and to advance reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australia by fighting the dominant discourse from within. Beginning with the State and Government’s Native Title appeal premiss that Nyungar never existed, this thesis will examine this claim by first presenting an account of the history of southwest Western Australia to establish the place Aboriginal people have been forced into by the colonists during early settlement, and the processes of which extend into the present day. From there on in the focus will be on individual Aboriginal people and their careers and businesses, examining how they attempt to redefine what is perceived and accepted as Aboriginality through different interaction and mediation ‘tactics’ with non-Aboriginal Australians. Finally, this thesis will take a closer look at the reconciliation movement in Australia and the people involved in it. It will determine different approaches to reconciliation and assess their possibility and meaning for the construction of a twenty-first century Aboriginal identity. The thesis will conclude that although Nyungar are forced into the dominant discourse, their resistance from within credits a new kind of Aboriginality that is just as valid as the ‘traditional’ and ‘authentic’ Aboriginality imagined by non-Aboriginal Australia.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: Print and electronic copy restricted until 1st November 2017
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations
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