The visible and the invisible: legacies of violence in contemporary Australian Aboriginal contexts

Paul Collis, Jen WEBB

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2 Citations (Scopus)
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Australia’s history begins over 50,000 years ago, but a little over 200 years ago, this history was officially erased through the violence of settlement/invasion, and a new history was written into the official record. This paper addresses the particular “invisibility” that has, since, been the experience for Indigenous Australians in two modes. The first is the invisibility that was introduced by the legal fiction of “terra nullius” and sustained by two centuries of colonialism; the second is the invisibility occasioned by the erasure from official discourse and history of the differences between the 500 (or more) cultural groups that inhabited Australia, differences of culture, language, tradition, beliefs and worldview. Drawing on Paul’s experiential knowledge and the findings from the fieldwork he undertook as part of his doctoral research and from Jen’s cultural research into ways of seeing and the politics of being, we offer an account of the simultaneous visibility and invisibility of the indigenous people of Australia in an attempt to render particular views, values, perspectives and identities not only visible but also capable of being recognised as present and as valid on their own cultural terms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-503
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Australian Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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