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 When the West is invoked in postcolonial studies it is countries like the United States, Canada, France, Britain, western Europe, Australia and New Zealand that are designated as having the imperial gaze (Ashcroft et ah 1995; Frankenberg 1997a). The West is not explicitly associated with whiteness in most postcolonial work because it functions as a racclcss category, fcdward :>aids seminal text Urietttaltsm (ivfo) pro- duced a theory of representation that has been used by many to analyse the postcolonial condition. Orientalism posits the idea of the West as an entity confined by its representations of the Orient.The Orient comes to be known through cultural discourses, systems of governance, and the production and dissemination of texts produced by the West. Glossed as 'the West', whiteness remains invisible, unnamed and unmarked; it is omnipresent and effects representation in multiple ways. Postcolonial theory began to influence the work of scholars in Australia from the late 1980s. They were interested in examining the idea of a postcolonial Australia at a time when Australia's immigration and settlement policies were framed by multiculturalism and when Indigenous issues,'particularly land rights and reconciliation, ranked in the forefront of politics' (Markus 2001:33). In the 1990s, in particular, scholars began to analyse representations of Indigenous people, devel- oping an area of study identified as Aboriginal Postcolonial Studies. Some scholars were concerned with examining negative definitions and descriptions, while others concentrated on contextualising acts of knowledge about the Indigenous other (Attwood & Arnold 1992; Cowlishaw 1993). One of the earliest collections of such work was published in a special edition of the Journal of Australian Studies, entitled 'Power, Knowledge and Aborigines' and edited by Bain Attwood and John Arnold. There are no Aboriginal contributors to this edition, with the exception of the cover design, a painting by Robert Campbell junior, Ngaku, from Kempsey which is entitled Aboriginal History (facts) 1988. The painting depicts a narrative of colonisation, in which the white male body is clearly visible. Campbell, like Tanon, is not uncomfortable in identify- ing the whiteness of his oppressors.4 He positions himself as a subject of resistance, making the visible white body the object of that resist- ance. In this way Campbell's painting inverts the object—subject rela- tionship, which is elaborated in the contents of the journal. I Iowever, the relationship of the cover to the contents reverses Campbells inver- sion. Despite its best intentions of mitigating primitivist discourse, the journal restages it through representing 'the racialised primitive Other ... as the ultimate embodiment of visual culture and the white intel- Lectual as the ultimate embodiment of the superior power of words' (Lattas 1992:49).The primitive is the body, while the white intellectual is the mind. Here the body stands in relation to the mind as the cover stands in relation to the journal. The writer-knowcr as subject is racially invisible, while the Aboriginal as object is visible.The discourse of primitivism deploys the Cartesian model to separate the racialised white body of the knower from the racialised discourse and knowledge produced by its mind. In this way the body, which is the marker of race, is erased leaving only the disembodied mind. Whiteness, as an ontological and epistemologi- cal ci priori, is seductive in producing the assumption of a racially neutral mind and an invisible detached white body. Some of the best scholars in Aboriginal postcolonial studies con- tributed to this edition and it is still one of the few texts that deals with lndigeneity and representation. In the introduction, Bain Attwood (1992) draws on Said's concept of Orientalism to argue that knowing the Aborigine is encapsulated within a mode of discourse he refers to as Aboriginalism. For Attwood this comprises three dimensions: the first being Aboriginal Studies, the teaching, research and scholarship pro- duced by'European scholars'; second, the ontological and epistemolog- ical distinctions between 'them' and 'us'; and third, the corporate institutions that govern and define Aborigines. He asserted that outside of Aboriginalism there are other forms of knowledge characterised by non-oppressive discursive practices that he identifies as post- Aboriginalist. The nature of post-Aboriginalist discursive practices entails collaborative relationships between Aborigines and anthropolo- gists, linguists, historians and curators in museums, land councils and Aboriginal communities. Attwood further argues that there have been two theoretical developments in Aboriginal Studies, which challenge Aboriginalism: First, Aborigines are viewed as socially constructed subjects with iden- tities, which are relational and dynamic rather than oppositional (in the binary sense) and given.This challenge to essentialism and the teleolog- ica] assumptions embedded in Aboriginalist scholarship involves his- toricising processes that have constructed Aborigines, thus revealing how Aboriginal identity has been fluid and shifting, and above all con- tingent on colonial power relations. This approach necessarily involves a new object of knowledge — Ourselves, European Australians rather than them, the Aborigines — and this entails a consideration of the nature of our colonising culture and the nature of our knowledge and power in relation to Aborigines.These new praxes and knowledges rad- ically destabilise conventional ways of establishing identity or the exis- tential conditions of being for both Aborigines and ourselves, but they also have the potential to offer new means for a mutual becoming. (1992:xv) The point to note about Attwood's analysis is the way in which he identifies a homogenous group as 'ourselves' — European Australians — yet fails to racialise the same group as white, despite prevailing dis- courses which used the term 'European' to refer to British and north- ern Europeans.This resistance to naming whiteness works to deracialise the category Attwood designates as 'European Australians'. Race is implicit in the construct Aborigine but not identified as being implicit in the category European Australian. In contrast to whiteness, Aboriginaliry as a racial construct is identified with blackness and is named and attached to Aboriginalism and post-Aboriginalism because it is deemed a valid discursive practice.Techniques through which other racial categories are deconstructed, reconfigured, subverted and changed, elided and embedded, have not been applied to whiteness. This is because Aboriginalism and post-Aboriginalism are socially con- structed by whiteness as representations of what it is not.The new the- oretical challenges to Aboriginalism recognise that what is required is a new object of knowledge but whiteness as an epistemological This ensures that race continues to belong to the Indigenous other and whiteness remains hidden, which leads me to ask the question: how is post-Aboriginalism the new means of our mutual becoming when conventional ways of deploying race have not been radically destabilised? Similarly, the article by Stephen Muecke (1992) on representation fails to recognise whiteness as a racial category. According to Muecke, when scholars seek to evaluate a stereotype against reality all we are doing is comparing one representation with another because both arc interpretations. Thus, we should be concerned with post-representa- tion, a mode of analysis that does not deal with 'real-world relations'; instead, it is interested in how images are produced through available discourses and whether it is possible to create others. Muecke is con- cerned that Aboriginalist discourse within society conflates culture with Aborigines: This legacy forces contemporary Aboriginal subjects, in turn, into posi- tions of essentialism (you are Aboriginal), or representativeness and knowledge (you would know about kinship systems of the Western desert), and consequently they are constantly called upon to display this essence, or this or that skill, as if culture were an endowment. This is an enormous burden, and it is the Western version of culture which gives them this, not the Aboriginal. This is not to say that the Aboriginal version of culture is the thing to be achieved, the thing that will nec- essarily correct this idea, or complete one's being . . . This nexus of grandeur and limitations — the inability to be able to see oneself as specifically culturally focussed — has had the unfortunate effect of inhibiting the formation of a strong Aboriginal intellectual group in Australia. 'Culture' thus seems to me to be the prison of twentieth century Aborigines. (1992:40) I agree with Muecke that Aboriginalist discourse works to circum- scribe self-representation or different constructions of Indigenous people which could be deemed post-representational. However, to assume there is an absence of'a strong Aboriginal intellectual group in Australia' due to the constitutive powers of Western discourse is to place us outside discursive regimes of power and knowledge. The logic of Muecke's argument is that the disciplinary regime that produces white Australian intellectuals is not also producing Indigenous Australian intellectuals. Is it possible that in the late twentieth century this is because the whiteness of post-structuralist theory is the prison of Stephen Muecke? Muecke effaces his own identity as an object of power and knowledge and acquires the power of subject by making Indigenous people the problematic objects of his theory. As a knowing subject he is able to simultaneously position Indigenous intellectuals inside disciplinary power as victims (or in the 'prison of culture') and therefore outside disciplinary power as non-intellectuals.This may be in part because as a central reference point for post-structuralist intellec- tuals, Foucault also overlooked the importance of naming whiteness in his work. Yet, as a universal that represents humanity, whiteness has affected the knowledge of things and their order.'[Whiteness] is the gaze of a universal that stumbles on what it has left out, on the remain- der that it cannot acknowledge except by projecting it beyond the limits whose existence it is designed to mask' (Montag 1997:292). As we shall see, despite being prisoners of disciplinary power, representa- tions of whiteness in the texts of Indigenous scholars reveal a knowl- edge of whiteness produced from being othered through a range of discursive and material practices.