Ethical Non-Indigenous Citizenry: possibilities and implications for research

Wednesday, 3 July 2019
Dr Mary Frances O'Dowd

Australian citizenry is a taken for granted construction of the non-Indigenous nation-state. In colonial to settler-colonial contexts citizenry is typically conceptualised and discussed as something Indigenous peoples were excluded from, or included in, and/or the limits of that inclusion. The taken for granted assumption and discourse is that the nation-state confers and controls citizenry. This paper recognises that in settler-colonial contexts non-Indigenous (NI) people are not citizens of Indigenous lands. In recognising the enduring sovereignty of Indigenous nations, citizenship of the nation-state is unsettled. Recognising absent citizenship enables thinking into practices that moves toward NI self-decolonisation (recognising that decolonisation, as defined by Tuck & Yang (2012:1), is a process leading to ‘…repatriation of Indigenous land and life’). Furthermore, the teaching of Indigenous scholars appear to support that decolonisation requires the action of ‘speaking-back’ to dominant and taken for granted non-Indigenous discourse to ensure Indigenous human rights (e.g. Moreton-Robinson, 2000). Citizenry might be better understood as positioned in what Nakata (2007) terms ‘a cultural interface’ with Indigenous people. Such a space behoves a necessary NI speaking-back into her own cultural hegemony. This paper is the exploration what it may mean for non-Indigenous practice to aspire to become non-Indigenous citizens of sovereign Indigenous nations and its implications for non-Indigenous action in research. The paper is positioned as a presentation for dialogue.