Unsettling Settler Narratives of the Past

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Lindi Renier Todd


This edited collection of 13 essays represents the newest addition to the ‘Studies in Imperialism’ series which, as the general editor John MacKenzie explains is concerned with “notions of dispossession and repossession,” particularly focusing on “the effects of dismembering and remembering the past upon perceptions in the present” (MacKenzie: p. xii). The volume is positioned as a tool for allowing those who have been displaced and marginalised as a result of colonial policies, to better understand the historical context of their situation and so strengthen their claims for greater political representation and autonomy in the present. Coombes insists that:

“… an understanding of the political and cultural institutions and practices which shaped these colonial societies in the past can provide important insights into the available means for contesting its legacy of unequal rights by historically marginalized peoples in the present” (Coombes: p. 2).

Reading the volume now is, therefore, especially timely both in the context of the momentous decision by the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s government to issue a parliamentary apology to the stolen generations (13 February 2008) to “remove a blight on the nation’s soul”, and at a time in which academics, community representatives, policy makers and grassroots activists have been debating the previous government’s contentious policy decisions re the Northern Territory intervention passed in the light of the “Little Children Are Sacred” report, 2007.

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Book Reviews


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Rudd, Prime Minister Kevin (13 February 2008) "Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples", available online here http://www.aph.gov.au/house/index.htm (accessed February 2008).