From Homo Sacer to Subaltern : becoming Aboriginal online

  • Wayne Applebee

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


I came late to university studies after a childhood of persecution and incarceration that left me suffering symptoms of ‘anomie’, and with serious health problems. As a young man, my father had left his Kamilaroi country as a political ‘speech fighter’,1an Aboriginal activist. As a member of the Communist party Dad fought for better wages and conditions for all workers; in Canberra he was known as a Communist. He lived during the McCarthy era, and his politics soon saw him rise to a prominent leadership role in the Union movement. This brought persecution for his children, and we learned to fight to protect ourselves and our crippled brother. After my father’s death in the early 1960s, my brother and I –still children –were incarcerated. Later, as a building worker, I also gravitated towards Unions and, owing to my militancy, I was finally blacklisted out of the Building and Construction industry. Scarred by my life experiences and now with serious health problems, I entered university to study. Because of my personal history, and because of my identity as part of the Aboriginal diaspora, I began by studying law, where I learned of Aboriginal people’s extraordinary uptake of social media. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, Indigenous Australians lived in well-constructed houses, planted crops and had a system of communication known as ‘message sticks.’ Post invasion, Indigenous people have adapted every conceivable technological change to preserve culture and language, the latest of which is social media, the topic of this thesis. Based on interviews with Aboriginal users of social media, and against a backdrop of the history of invasion and its impacts, this thesis examines how and why Indigenous people are using Facebook, and the opportunities and risks it offers for our futures.
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJen Webb (Supervisor), Sam Hinton (Supervisor) & Tracy Ireland (Supervisor)

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