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Colonising White Innocence: Complicity and Critical Encounters

Abstract

This paper argues that white settler researchers seeking to engage with Indigenous sovereignty or contribute to antiracist and decolonising struggles should approach these critical encounters with and through awareness of our complicity in ongoing racism and colonialism, which involves appreciating our locations and limits. A discourse of colonizing white innocence circulates in policy, academic and other spaces to reinforce and obscure progressive white investments in maintaining power relationships generated by ongoing colonising racist violence through presenting particular individuals, groups and institutions as non-problematic, and so not complicit in historical and contemporary violence. This foundational assumption allows white settlers to assume that our contributions are benevolent or in the interests of Indigenous people and that we ourselves transcend our own locations within racist and colonising systems of rule, in so doing emphasising our legitimacy and authority in relation to Indigenous people. Complicity establishes both a political responsibility and an intellectual imperative to understand and contest systems of domination in which we are enmeshed through deliberate respectful engagements with those who have experiences, knowledges and forms of authority that we do not and cannot possess.

Keywords

  • Indigenous People
  • Discursive Strategy
  • Settler Colonial
  • White Settler
  • Racist Violence

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    There are a lot of ‘we’ statements in this chapter, which speak to my own racial and political location. This is consistent with the focus of this paper on political and academic responsibilities and relationships that I have and share with others in broadly similar locations, although it is not intended to imply that all readers share this positioning.

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Correspondence to Alissa Macoun .

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Macoun, A. (2016). Colonising White Innocence: Complicity and Critical Encounters. In: Maddison, S., Clark, T., de Costa, R. (eds) The Limits of Settler Colonial Reconciliation. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-2654-6_6

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