damien short on official remembrance and reconciliation in australia
When compared with other reconciliation processes, Australian reconciliation and its acts of official remembrance have received relatively little academic attention, and yet the case raises many important questions for settler societies struggling to come to terms with past misdeeds and the burden of the past in the present. This article places Australian reconciliation in the political context of the campaign for a treaty between Indigenous peoples and the settler state that emerged in the 1980s, the institutionalization of common law Indigenous land rights during the 1990s, and the current ‘intervention’ in the Northern Territory. The nature and trajectory of these political events are at odds with two highly lauded official acts of remembrance made under the rubric of reconciliation, Paul Keating’s Redfern Park speech in 1992, and Kevin Rudd’s formal state apology in 2008. The article argues that such settler state acts of official remembrance and acknowledgement of past injustices, while far from devoid of value, are considerably diminished by the positively colonial, and inherently unjust, contemporary political context in which they were made.
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