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Burying Indigeneity: The Spatial Construction of Reality and Aboriginal Australia


Atkinson, R and Taylor, E and Walter, MM, Burying Indigeneity: The Spatial Construction of Reality and Aboriginal Australia, Social & Legal Studies, 19, (3) pp. 311-330. ISSN 0964-6639 (2010) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1177/0964663909345449


In this article we argue that spatial distance and historic socio-ethnic boundaries play a critical role in determining the relative priority given to groups that are marginally placed. These priorities are materialized through law. We utilize theories that understand ‘reality’ as something socially constructed: our impressions of the structure of everyday life are mediated in large part by our primary social group interactions. We profile the spatial distribution and relative segregation of Indigenous Australians, from urban to remote regional contexts. Our data highlights how even a predominantly urban Indigenous population remains out of the sight and mind of social and political actors due to its small numerical size and perceived social difference. We move to explain public policy formulation in terms of orientations that are influenced by the spatiality of social affiliations. We suggest that the spatially-bounded patterning of black and white lives supports the continued burial of Indigenous life. The socio-spatial construction of Indigenous life for white and other Australians has enabled both aggressive and neglectful policy instruments in which Aboriginal life appears as something that is politically, legally and spatially marginal.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Boundary; Indigenous Australians; native title; Northern Territory; segregation; social isolation; space
Research Division:Studies in Human Society
Research Group:Policy and Administration
Research Field:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Community Service (excl. Work)
Objective Field:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Development and Welfare
UTAS Author:Walter, MM (Professor Maggie Walter)
ID Code:76363
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:18
Deposited By:Sociology and Social Work
Deposited On:2012-03-05
Last Modified:2014-11-10

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