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The alternative is to reject the inclusion of native representations in the public space

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The alternative is to reject the inclusion of native representations in the public space

Discourses of oppression is what re-defines whiteness – keeping narratives and cultural oppression out of the public is key to stop its cooption

Moreton – Robinson 04, Aileen Moreton – Robinson, 1/1/04, Moreton – Robinson is Professor of Indigenous Studies, Division of Research and Commercialisation, and Indigenous Studies Research Network, “Whitening Race,” NN
Representations of the Indigenous other work within discourses to enable and sustain the universality of whiteness as hunianness which defines itself as what it is not. Primitivism developed during modernity and is dependent upon established scientific fields such as anthropology and biology which through their formal character and apparent univer- sality confer authority and legitimacy to it (Goldberg 1993:149). Whiteness has been historically integral to the emergence of these authoritative fields while remaining invisible, unmarked and unnamed. It is in this context that 'the primitive' is operationalised to be either in opposition to or supportive of white identity. Andrew Lattas analyses the way Aboriginal identity is influenced by discourses concerned with the constitution and future of the nation's identity. He argues that by representing Indigenous people in discourse as the bearers of primitivism, white people can claim to inhabit moder- nity and individualism:'[T]he racialised primitive Other is constructed as the ultimate embodiment of visual culture and the white intellectual as the ultimate embodiment of the superior power of words' (1992:49). Unlike Muecke and Attwood, Lattas does invoke the racial category 'white' in his analysis. However, its use is restricted to denoting partic- ular subject positions: white intellectual, white man, white artists. In this way Lattas fails to distinguish between a racialised subject position and the power and knowledge effects of racialised discourse. Primitivism is not recognised as a discursive effect of whiteness which operates beyond identity at the level of knowledge production. In analysing how representation is constitutive of violence, Barry Morris argues that the culture of terror exercised on the frontier was enabled through the indeterminacy of the native subject's shift between ambivalence and fixity. A mimesis occurred between the imputed treachery of the Aborigine and the savagery of the colonial project: 'The efficacy of such representations of Aboriginal "treachery" mani- fested itself in the deeper strain of fear and hatred which characterised the redemptive violence of the colonial frontier' (1992:85-6). Morris's analysis recognises that representations of the Aborigine both consti- tuted and enabled violence, but the epistemological a priori of white- ness which also constitutes such representations remains unmarked and invisible. Whiteness as an epistemological and ontological a priori is seductive in that it underpins concepts like colonists or colonialism in Australia, but its invisibility means it makes these terms appear to be deracialised. This is one of the ways in which whiteness remains unmarked as a discursive formation that is tied to knowledge produc- tion and the exercise of power. What we can extract from Morris's and Lattas's examinations of rep- resentations of the Indigenous other is that the system of beliefs, values and knowledge that created a racial hierarchy placed whiteness at the top. The post-Aboriginalist position of Attwood, and Muecke and others, can acknowledge the construction of Aboriginality as the 'Other' of the universal humanist subject of the West. However, they fail to imagine that Indigenous intellectual production might be inspired by a different understanding of the human subject because whiteness operates as an epistemological and ontological a priori in their work. As Fanon concluded in The Wretched of the Btirtlr/For Europe, for ourselves and for humanity ... wc must turn over a new leaf, wc must work out new concepts, and try to set afoot a new [human]' (1978:255). Fanon was not confused by the intimate connection between the violent face of humanism, on the one hand, and the white subject behind the mask who dispensed it, on the other.


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