WHITESPACES POSTGRADUATE NETWORK

Posted: April 19, 2012 by Madeline-Sophie (Maddy) Abbas in Uncategorized

Encountering Racism Down Under:

Antipodean perspectives on the construction of tolerance and white sovereignty

 

 

PARTICIPATING INSTITUTIONS

The University of Leeds

 

The University of Southampton

 

The University of Cape Town

 

The University of Sydney

 

 

1. Principal Reading:[1]

Ghassan Hage (1998) ‘Good White Nationalists: The Tolerant Society as a White Fantasy’, in White Nation: Fantasies of White Supremacy in a Multicultural Society, Sydney: Pluto Press, pp. 78-116.

Aileen Moreton-Robinson and Fiona Nicoll (2006) ‘We Shall Fight Them on the Beaches: Protesting cultures of white possession’, Journal of Australian Studies 89: 149-186. 

 

 

2. Synopses

Hage: ‘Good White Nationalists’

~ Rebecca Williamson

 

Hage’s chapter critically discusses the discourse of tolerance in Australian society as it relates to the history of immigration, multiculturalism and the integration of the ‘Other’ into the national imaginary. Hage’s main aim is to deconstruct the power relations implicit in the discourse of tolerance. He argues that this discourse works to identify the ‘good white nationalist’ – a normative notion of the accepting, non-racist citizen – in opposition to the ‘evil white nationalist’ who is intolerant and racist; a separation that he argues is ideological and strategic. He understands tolerance as a capacity, and describes it as an active practice that is equally constituted by a capacity to not tolerate, thus, tolerance and intolerance coexist. Only a certain segment of society (i.e. white nationalists) can claim this capacity which is based on a sense of ownership over an imagined national space – a kind of spatialised power that involves the active positioning of the ‘other’ within the national imaginary; an act he equates to a form of symbolic violence. Rather than being opposites, ‘evil’ and ‘good’ white nationalists represent different thresholds along a continuum of tolerance. Hage argues that the discourse of tolerance works to mask the fact that practices of exclusion and inclusion are both based on an equal claim to the right to manage national space. Thus, the discourse of tolerance acts as a form of ‘tolerant racism’, which disempowers and objectifies ‘others’ (migrants, asylum seekers, etc.), while also mystifying the very practices and discourses through which they are victimized.

 

Moreton-Robinson & Nicoll: ‘We Shall Fight Them on the Beaches’

~ Rebecca O’Brien

 

Moreton-Robinson and Nicoll’s (2006) article presents the concept of ‘patriarchal white sovereignty’ as the underlying regime of power that ensures that white, particularly male members of the Australian nation retain more rights to enter, exist and act within public spaces than their non-white counterparts. Patriarchal white sovereignty is presented as an ideological tool utilized primarily to reproduce, confirm and cement whiteness and masculinity as the central keys to ownership of Australia as a nation. It is not logic enacted through explicit legal or social inequality, but is instead based upon the denial of the systemic privileges afforded to white people through historically established legal discrimination.  According to Moreton-Robinson & Nicoll (2006:150) this ensures that even though all citizens may have equal rights under the law, ‘not all citizens have the resources, capacities and opportunities to exercise them equally’. In accordance with Hage (1998), Moreton-Robinson & Nicoll (2006) suggest that patriarchal white sovereignty extends beyond the right to occupy a physical space, but also to exercise tolerance of the ‘other’ as well as define the limits at which this tolerance may be revoked. Two case studies are presented as examples of points at which patriarchal white sovereignty has explicitly exposed itself in response to perceived transgressions of ‘white behavioural norms and morality’; the 2006 ‘violent attacks’ at Cronulla Beach and a heritage protection claim by Indigenous peoples in Victoria over land ‘owned’ by a white male. Through these cases, Moreton-Robinson & Nicoll highlight the assumption of the right to ownership imbued within patriarchal white sovereignty, the ways through which the uncooperative ‘Other’ is presented and excluded from the umbrella of ‘Australian’ and the ever-present threat of violence that is most often underlying, however at times (such as at Cronulla in 2006) may become manifest in order to remind the racialized ‘Other’ of the repercussions of pushing the limits of tolerance outlined by the white, Australian ‘local’.

 

3. Food for Thought

 

Rebecca and Rebecca have raised some (thought-provoking) questions to help get the conversation going. Please feel free to engage with any of these or to offer your own interpretation of the two readings and their relevance (or not) to your own research and/or experience.

 

  • Spatial metaphors have particular prominence in the Australian context, where the national borders are (relatively) clearly defined and as reflected in the symbolic importance of the beach. How are nationalist spatial imaginaries/borders deployed in other contexts (beyond the US) to reinforce racial dominance?

 

  • In Australia, racist commentaries have been justified as a protest against ‘political correctness’ (i.e. the discourse of tolerance) that purportedly blocks ‘freedom of speech’ such that the either/or logic seems to have short-circuited any alternative spaces for constructive or critical dialogue. Has this been invoked in other contexts and are there any alternatives that move beyond the tolerator/tolerated binary?

 

  • Hage has been criticized for essentialising the categories of ‘white’ and ‘non-white’ Australians, and undermining genuine attempts to support migrant integration and ethnic diversity by the white middle-class. Does this criticism have validity?

 

  • Moreton-Robinson & Nicoll’s work has been developed out of, and applied largely to, the Australian context. Is there a place for analyses utilising patriarchal white sovereignty in other contexts?

 

  • Is the concept of patriarchal white sovereignty applicable in postcolonial societies within which the Indigenous population is numerically larger than the colonial or settler population?

 

  • Moreton-Robinson’s body of work demonstrates the existence and repercussions of patriarchal white sovereignty, but does little to develop responses through which it may be challenged. How might we begin to develop a response to these issues?

 

  • To what extent can the power of the media be challenged in the face of its repetition of representations of otherness based on exclusionary discourses of white possession?

 

  • The way in which discourses of tolerance work to mask power relations are a feature of both articles. How are these articulated in other contexts/countries? (e.g. does the discourse of race relations in the UK operate in the same way?)

 

 

  1. 4.     Network and Institutional Contacts

 

Say Burgin

 

Leeds

hy08snb@leeds.ac.uk

 

Maddy Abbas

 

Leeds

ss08msna@leeds.ac.uk

 

Daria Tkacz

 

Southampton

dmt106@soton.ac.uk

 

Lwando Scott

 

Cape Town

l.scott@uct.ac.za

 

Tristan Enright

 

Sydney

tenr3065@uni.sydney.edu.au

 

 

 


[1] N.B. Reading material available electronically from institutional convenors.

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Comments
  1. […] Next week, the WhiteSpaces Postgraduate Network is running a week-long virtual seminar on their blog, En/countering Whiteness. […]

  2. trisjenri says:

    Hello everyone,

    For those of you who’ve not yet met me, virtually or otherwise, I’m Tristan, a research student at The University of Sydney. Given my location in Australia, I find I’m unable to contribute much by way of a response to the questions posed above regarding (dis)similar experiences/circumstances in contexts beyond my own. There are, however, two questions I’d like to respond to briefly (and perhaps a little out of left-of-field), both of which I see as being difficult to disentangle from one another. The first of these is the question relating to the criticism levelled at Hage for invoking cultural essentialism in his depiction of what it means to be a ‘white’ or ‘non-white’ Australian (or the notion of ‘patriarchal white sovereignty’ for that matter), and the second the question of how we might begin to develop a response to the issues raised by Moreton-Robinson and Nicoll (and Hage).

    While I certainly find Hage’s discussion of tolerance and intolerance as being two sides of the same proverbial (‘nationalist’) coin valuable, I am inclined to agree that there is a certain degree of cultural (or conceptual) essentialism endemic to his piece. On one hand, this may be a strategic necessity, for it is often the way in which relations of symbolic and material power turning on issues of race and ethnicity manifest themselves in the real world confrontations captured in popular and academic discourse (i.e., cultures). On the other hand, though, I can’t help but feel that in doing so there is a certain flattening or homogenisation of the categories ‘white’ and ‘non-white’ or, indeed, ‘the nation’. To my mind, this inevitably stems from the problem of whether or not it is possible or desirable to treat issues pertaining to race/ethnicity as separate from issues pertaining to class, gender, sexuality, so on and so forth, something Moreton-Robinson and Nicoll begin to address, albeit inadequately given limitations of space. I guess I’m thinking here of the issue of intersectionality, an issue we have engaged with in previous virtual seminars, particularly in relation to the work of Floya Anthias (2001).

    For instance, take Hage’s deployment of the category of ‘white’, then add to this Moreton-Robinson and Nicoll’s category of gender (manifest in the concept of ‘patriarchy’), which seems to me to expand the definition of the ‘good white nationalist’ to mean the ‘good white male nationalist’, placing ‘women’ in a subordinate position to ‘men’ in the construction and defence of the national imaginary. What, then, happens when we attempt to account for a further category of difference, such as sexuality? I’m thinking here of the current political malaise raging in Australia over same-sex marriage, which for many of its (puritanical) opponents strikes at the heart of the nation; that is, what it means to be Australian and, on this basis, who does or does not deserve to be counted as fully Australian. In the Australian context at least, heteronormative sexuality has historically been deployed as a means of preserving the (theoretical or imagined) purity of ‘the nation’. In many ways, this has also served to exclude the non-heterosexual white male (and female) from the privileged/dominant position of the heterosexual white male (and female) in forming, maintaining and defending what Hage refers to as the ‘national will’. Of course, I do not here mean to trivialise or displace the issues faced by ‘non-whites’, be they Indigenous or migrant, nor act as an apologist for those whose actions I’d quite happily describe as down right racist. Rather, my aim is to simply highlight the tenuous nature of popular and academic understandings of culture and social difference.

    I guess this is where I’m led to the question of alternative responses to dominant discourses and their material outcomes. Fundamentally, I think we all tend to operate in or navigate our way through the world on the basis of more or less essentialised understandings of cultural and personal identity (something we as academics must necessarily recognise within ourselves as well). Indeed, these form the very basis of discourses of tolerance and possession, discourses which underpin what we might also describe as expressing our own sense/s of ontological security (‘this is the way the [i.e., my] world works’). Any challenge to such security, as evident in counter-hegemonic discourses of recognition (such as claims to native title, or multiculturalism, or same-sex marriage, etc.), is often met with staunch opposition from those whom, whether it be imagined or ‘real’, feel most likely to ‘lose out’ if such demands for recognition are met. I’m reminded here of a piece by Bryan Turner (2002) in relation to the (post-9/11) rise of patriotic nationalism in which he seeks to make the case for the ‘cosmopolitan virtue of irony’. In effect, he argues, invoking the virtue of irony demands that we acknowledge that the claims to recognition made by both ourselves and our ‘others’, be they in a dominant or subordinate (material/symbolic) position, are made from equally fallible and vulnerable positions. We are, to adapt Jacques Ranciere (1995), ultimately ‘a community of unequals’ (even if it pains us to admit it).

    The over-riding question for me, then, is how we go about reconciling competing claims to recognition without essentialising either our own or our others’ positions (e.g., the ‘good white patriarchal nationalist’ vs. the ‘land-grabbing indigene’ or ‘interloping queue jumper’). In other words, how do we go about articulating claims to recognition without demanding that those we see, or perhaps, misrecognise, as ‘standing in our way’ relinquish their own? I don’t profess to have an answer to this question, but I think there’s something in Turner’s ‘virtue of irony’ that may provide the basis of the development of alternative responses to those which have, and continue to dominate the popular and intellectual landscape. At the same time, I also imagine there needs to be a radical re-thinking of what we as academics mean by ‘giving voice to’ dominated groups/individuals. For instance, however well-meaning we may be, is it simply enough for us to engage in our own practices of representation on behalf of these groups, selecting as it were which elements of their voices and experiences to prioritise, thus maintaining, paradoxically, a hierarchy of voices? Or, would it be more effective to ‘give voice to’ those we seek to represent by ceding ‘the power to voice’ by way of transmitting or inculcating those skills, capacities and conventions necessary for engaging in dominant discursive formations?

    Anyway, just a few (perhaps now a little long-winded) thoughts. Looking forward to seeing how the perspective Australiana relates to or gels with perspectives coming out of other far flung places…

    Tristan

    Anthias, F. (2001) ‘The material and the symbolic in theorizing social stratification: issues of gender, ethnicity and class’, British Journal of Sociology 52(3): 367-390.
    Rancière, J. (1995) On the Shores of Politics (trans. Liz Heron), London & New York: Verso.
    Turner, B.S. (2002) ‘Cosmopolitan Virtue, Globalization and Patriotism’, Theory, Culture & Society 19(1-2): 45-63.

  3. Lwando says:

    These past two weeks in the course that I am an assistant lecturer, Diversity Literacy, we have been discussing race, particularly whiteness. There was also a discussion organized by a student group on campus with the topic #isUCTracist. Which became a “trending” topic on twitter in Cape Town last week. Here is a link: http://www1.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-04-20-uct-students-get-stuck-into-race-debate

    All of these things were in mind while reading the two pieces up for discussion this week. When Hage talks about the power to tolerate, the centrality of white supremacy, that people of colour have to constantly navigate, is emphasised. Hage talks about the very idea of tolerance means that there is a limit, so white Australians will tolerate only what they want to tolerate and will tolerate to a certain extent, an extent that benefits them. It seems to me that “tolerance” can easily be swapped with “put up with” and that people in multicultural societies like Australia and South Africa, white people put up with the “Other” particularly in “white” spaces (university, top management in big companies ect). This is why “multiculturalism has remained marked by continued intolerance, prejudice and racism” (84). “Prejudice co-exists with tolerance.” There is never a real engagement with the “Other” as the very ground in which engagement has to take place is constructed by those in power.

    “It seems that the ones who are concerned by the call to tolerate can only be the same people who feel entitled to engage in intolerance” (87). – Really powerful.

    In Moreton-Robinson & Nicoll, I am interested in the sense of entitlement of white people, that is very evident in the piece (and assume evident in Australian society) and certainly evident in South Africa. The entitlement is stronger when people have economic capital to back it up. The Michael Maher vs Walter Saunders is a good example (159). The indigenous heritage claims on the land are dismissed by Maher because there is no “actual proof of historic evidence.” This assertion negates the history of Indigenous people, in that there is no history because it was not documented the same way as in Europe and also it was destroyed in the colonizing project.

    • lyndickens says:

      Hello all,

      My name’s Lyn and I’m a PhD student at Sydney University. Like Tristan, being from Australia I can’t comment too much on the applicability of the readings to other contexts, however I have a few comments on the questions regarding moving beyond the tolerator/tolerated binary, and on Hage’s essentialism.

      I agree with Tristan’s point that Hage’s essentialism is strategic, yet also simplifies and homogenises the categories of ‘white’ and ‘non-white’. There are many limitations in Hage’s work. While he addresses the relationship between class and attitudes towards racial and cultural difference in his book White Nation, he speaks much less about gender or sexuality Furthermore he doesn’t engage with the relationships between Indigenous Australians and non-white-non-Indigenous Australians, or examine how Indigenous Australians have reacted to or are affected by notions of multiculturalism. Hage also grapples with how to speak about non-white-non-Indigenous Australians (so do I). In White Nation more generally, he uses the term NESB (non-English speaking background), however it is clear in his, Moreton-Robinson and Nicoll’s work that racism, discrimination and tolerance in Australia are based on physical appearance as much, if not more, than language. While the term ‘migrant’ is often used instead of NESB, I am deliberately avoiding using the word to refer to non-white-non-Indigenous Australians, as it is something of a misleading term in an Australian context. Hage, Moreton-Robinson and Nicoll all speak of racialised cultural difference, and the term migrant has taken a racial meaning in Australia. From the point of view of Indigenous Australia, everyone is a migrant, however the word is often used as shorthand for ‘visibly different’ Australians, regardless of whether they are sixth or first generation Australians. As a result, it perpetually locks non-white-non-Indigenous people in a state of eternal foreignness, marking them out as not truly belonging to the nation. In Moreton-Robinson and Nicoll’s article, they cite the example of the slogan “We Grew Here: You Flew Here”, which was used by certain white Australian youths in during the Cronulla Riots to emphasise the non-belonging of people of ‘Middle-Eastern appearance’, in spite of the fact that many of these people of ‘Middle-Eastern appearance’ were born in Australia. Slogans such as this, and the term migrant, highlight the tenuous acceptance of non-white-non-Indigenous people, which, as Lwando points out, is not based on genuine engagement but is predicated on their not pushing the limits of the tolerance of ‘true’ Australians.

      Moreton-Robinson and Nicoll’s article is interesting in that it critiques patriarchal white sovereignty by examining it in relation to both Indigenous Australians and non-white-non-Indigenous Australians (I would love to use a less convoluted term, but I haven’t found a suitable one yet). The article does not explore the further complexities of the relationships between white, Indigenous and non-white-non-Indigenous Australians, although Moreton-Robinson touches upon some of these issues in another paper “‘I Still Call Australia Home’: Indigenous belonging and place in a white postcolonising society”. Although this by no means completely breaks down the tolerator/tolerated binary, in my own research I’m examining the applicability of adaptations of certain Caribbean postcolonial theories, such as transculturation and the work of Edouard Glissant, to an Australian context through an analysis of representations of ‘mixed race’ Australians. ‘Mixed race’ experiences are not widely discussed in Australia, yet to an extent representations of these experiences can both highlight the workings of racialised power and essentialised categories, and destabilise them. I say this with qualification, as there are limitations on what ‘mixed race’ experiences or representations can do, however I do think that ways of examining the internal complexities (class, gender, sexuality, internal ethnic difference) within the three, over-essentialised categories of Indigenous, white, and non-Indigenous-non-white, as well as the way these categories relate to and blend into one another (such as in racially mixed people and families), may lead to a more nuanced understanding of power, possession and belonging in Australia. In turn this may point to new ways of thinking and speaking about these issues, both in academia and public discourse. Looking at other postcolonising/postcolonial nations and their experiences negotiating power relations and intermingling categories might also provide insights into Australian (and other) contexts.

      On another note, thanks Lwando for providing the link to the Daily Maverick article, it was a really interesting read. I’m not sure if it’s been done in the past (I’ve only taken part in 3 White Spaces events so far) but it would be great to have a South African themed discussion. For my part, I know more about apartheid and immediately post-apartheid South Africa, but much less about how race and power function there now.

      • Hello, I’m Maddy Abbas from Leeds University. I’ve found the discussion really thought-provoking and it touches on a lot of things which I have been thinking about in relation to these articles and my own work. The notion of tolerance is something that I am grabbling with in my current research on the experiences of Muslims in Britain post-9/11, 7/7. What I find interesting is how tolerance is invoked as Hage identifies, as a marker of a liberal, progressive society, but which actually obscures the power-plays that underpin its enactment where it is the dominant (‘white’) subject who is able to determine the parameters of tolerance whilst those identified as outside the nation or at best, border-beings, are to betolerated. I agree with Tristan that (in)tolerance are two sides of the same coin since tolerance actually works to re-inscribe the boundaries of the nation separating (un)rightful occupiers. Since tolerance seems to co-exist with an increase in racial hostility, it begs the question of what boundary work is being done to protect the image of the ‘good white nationalist’ in an increasingly hostile environment to anyone seen as ‘Other’ to the nation. Further, as Moreton- Robinson points out, those holding the tolerance card can revoke it at any point. This introduces a fracture between nationality and belonging where the right to belong determined by citizenship is not equivalent to the interpellation of who (does not) belong within the nation, which has implications for those outside the category of ‘rightful occupier’ to assert their right to belong since there is always the possibility that such claims will be dismissed (or not tolerated). What I would argue is that there are certain practices masquerading as tolerance, but which obscure others ways in which racial inequalities are experienced. These practices enable the white subject position to remain intact and unbesmirched through the institutionalisation of tolerance (such as through Equality legislation) whilst making claims ofdiscrimination difficult to pinpoint since they are systemically denied. The heralding of tolerance and the national narrative that it re-enacts, makes claims of racial discrimination appear out of place and thus difficult to identify since the ‘good white national’ subject is subscribing to a different epistemological position, or what Charles Mills (1997) refers to as the ‘epistemology of ignorance;’ a ‘cognitive dysfunction’ which allows white people to ‘misinterpret the world’ that they have created thus reproducing the racial contract.

  4. tj says:

    Although there are some shortcomings in Hage’s work (and I particularly appreciate what Lyn has written about the lack of attention towards the relationship between Indiginous Australians and other people of colour), overall I find it really useful, in enabling me to think through what the ‘language of tolerance’ is obscuring. I find Hage’s chapter really useful for unraveling some of the history from which this language has evolved into its current usage in terms of multicultural politics. And I find it interesting also how its usage is so ingrained in multicultural political language that seems ‘common sense’ – as Lwando says, it really doesn’t mean anything other than ‘to put up with’ – putting it that way, it sounds obviously racist.

    I want to respond to Tristan’s thoughts on the homogenisation of ‘white’ vs. ‘non-white’ in Hage’s work. While I agree 100% that class, gender, sexuality, (dis)ability always intersect with race and nation, and that generalisations are to be used sparingly, I do feel there is a certain tendency in discussions about race for a call for attention to ‘intersectionality’, which often ends up actually deflecting conversations about racism.

    My research is about race and racism in white-dominated feminist communities in England, and through both my research as well as my own involvement in feminist activist and academic communities, the call for attention to intersectionality as a deflection from discussing racism has a clear resonance. When white feminists are called out on their racism, there is often a familiar pattern of defenses, which tend to include – but what about class? sexuality? disability? I am not saying that these things are irrelevant (of course they’re not) but sometimes I think they are raised as a tactic to avoid hearing what is being said about racism. I think it is important to hold on to the history of intersectionality as a concept – which came out of black feminist theorising, and in which race was central.

    Also, regarding sexuality and nation, I would argue that in Britain, the mainstream political discourse is to a certain extent inclusive of gay identities as part of the national will, as long as these are also white, middle class (and preferably male). This incorporation of gay identities into the construction of the Western capitalist and imperialist nation is of course discussed in the by-now extensive literature on homonationalism (starting with Puar’s Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times, 2008). Again, whiteness tends to be the overriding factor in discourses of national belonging.

  5. jessinnz says:

    Dear all,

    My name is Jessica Terruhn. I am a PhD candidate at the University of Auckland. Two years in, I have recently finished conducting life story interviews with 38 New Zealanders of European descent* in Auckland with the aim of exploring how people who belong to the dominant ethnic group construct and negotiate their identities.

    Given that most of the previous comments have focused on the theme of tolerance I decided to pick up on this too and add some thoughts – based on my research – on how the discourse of tolerance and multiculturalism plays out in Aotearoa New Zealand.

    In accordance with what previous contributors have said, tolerance as virtue and signature quality of liberal progressive societies is a common theme in Aotearoa NZ. Lived multiculture and being welcoming of newcomers was frequently stated as a source of national pride by the participants of my study. Many middle-class, educated respondents portrayed themselves as cosmopolitan and world-open. At the same time, there were many clear caveats with respect to, for example, spatial control of lived multiculture in the urban space of Auckland. For instance, respondents lamented the Asian “dominance” of prominent area of downtown Auckland, presenting a false picture of New Zealand to tourists. These caveats clearly show that tolerance is regarded as a favour that can be limited or even withdrawn if the tolerated overstep a line (spatial or in other ways such as making political demands). It also shows that multiculturalism has not become part of the national imaginary. Indeed, tolerance and intolerance go hand in hand and both constitute white privilege. In addition to Hage’s dichotomy of good/bad white nationalist I find Brett and Moran’s (2011) concept of ‘cosmopolitan nationalism’ useful in theorising these seemingly conflicting expressions.

    Of course, respondents here draw on the widely available Western hegemonic discourse of celebrating diversity which is not surprising if, as Abby said, the discourse of tolerance has been institutionalized. The power of the discourse of tolerance thus lies in its ability to act as a smoke screen for systemic inequalities. This culturalisation of politics evokes cultural difference (rather than systemic inequality) as a source of conflict, and thus tolerance (rather than social justice) as the cure.

    In the context of New Zealand it is vital to recognize the link between biculturalism (settler – indigene relations) and multiculturalism. As Lyn said, in Australia, there is a lack of examinations of how indigenous Australians are affected by notions of multiculturalism. The same holds for New Zealand. There is plenty of research on Maori attitudes to immigration but none about how indigenous people are affected by the rhetoric of multiculturalism.

    One of the important findings from my research so far (these are preliminary results!) is that my respondents’ understanding of biculturalism is significantly affected by their understanding of multiculturalism. Biculturalism stipulates, at least in theory, equal partnership between Maori and Pakeha, “with the values and traditions of both cultures reflected in society’s customs, laws, practice, and institutional arrangements, and with both sharing control over resources and decision making” (O’Reilly and Wood 1991: 321). Much research has shown that NZ Europeans only support soft forms of biculturalism but strongly oppose the ‘hard’ or resource based biculturalism that would include the sharing of power and resources stipulated in the definition above.** My own research confirms these findings and also shows that NZ Europeans’ definitions of biculturalism are far removed from the one given above. Largely depoliticized, most respondents understood biculturalism as ‘two cultures living together’. The extent to which NZ Europeans were part of biculturalism was limited to wanting to learn the Maori language and wanting to learn more about Maori culture to be comfortable in Maori settings. On a related note, Maori cultural markers are absolutely integral to NZ Europeans’ concepts of national identity (arguably in order to make up for their own perceived lack of culture).

    I argue that ultimately it is the Western discourse of tolerance and celebrating cultural diversity that enables the dominant group to redefine and depoliticize the concept of biculturalism. This, of course, must have very real consequences for the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand in their political quest for equality and sovereignty.

    *The term ‘white’ is not commonly used here and the term Pakeha (which is commonly used) is very much contested and many NZ Europeans reject it for a number of reasons.

    ** See Turner (2007) for an outline of a continuum from soft to hard biculturalism and Sibley et al (2005) for the results of attitudinal research.

    Brett, Judith, and Anthony Moran. 2011. Cosmopolitan Nationalism: Ordinary People Making Sense of Diversity. Nations and Nationalism 17 (1):188-206.
    O’Reilly, T., and D. Wood. 1991. Biculturalism and the public sector. In Reshaping the state: New Zealand’s bureaucratic revolution, edited by J. Boston, J. Martin, J. Pallot and P. Walsh. Auckland: Oxford University Press.
    Sibley, Chris G., Andrew Robertson, and Steve Kirkwood. 2005. Pakeha Attitudes Toward the Symbolic and Resource-Specific Aspects of Bicultural Policy in New Zealand: The Legitimizing Role of Collective Guilt for Historical Injustices. New Zealand Journal of Psychology 34 (3):171-180.
    Turner, Stephen. 2007. ‘Inclusive Exclusion’: Managing Identity for the Nation’s Sake in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Arena 28:87-106.

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