The Postcolonial Struggle in Australia: Reports on Reconciliation in Remote Places

Dr. Peter Phipps
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This paper examines the postcolonial cultural politics of Indigenous-settler relations in Australia. The paper discusses the Garma Cultural Festival as a strategic Indigenous response to the current impasse in Indigenous affairs in Australia. There is clearly a substantial constituency of the Australian public and key social institutions deeply sympathetic to the causes of Indigenous self-determination, cultural survival and further progress in processes of reconciliation. However this process reached a total stalemate by the year 2001 under the Howard Government. A number of strategies have been adopted by Indigenous communities in response to this lack of progress in the political sphere. Since 1999 an annual gathering known as Garma has been organised at Gulkula in North East Arnhem Land by the Yothu Yindi Foundation under the direction of Galarrwuy and Mandawuy Yunupingu. Garma is an attempt to bring Yolngu and other Aboriginal people into a cultural and political dialogue with Balanda (non-Indigenous Australians) in a process often described by Yolngu educators as 'both ways learning'. This paper is a reflection on some of the lessons learned as a guest on Yolngu land over three Garmas and a consideration of what Garma might be effecting in the neo-colonial Australian political and cultural context.

Keywords: Australia, Postcolonialism, Neo-colonialism, Indigenous rights, Reconciliation
Stream: First Nations, Indigenous Peoples
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Peter Phipps

Deputy Director, Globalism Institute, RMIT University

Ref: D05P0347