Welcome to Country: Acknowledgement, Belonging and White Anti-racism

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Emma Kowal


The Welcome to Country (WTC) ceremony and its twin, the Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners, have become prominent anti-racist rituals in the post-settler society of Australia. These rituals are rich in meaning. They are simultaneously emblems of colonisation and dispossession; of recognition and reconciliation; and a periodic focus of political posturing. This article analyses the multiple meanings of WTC ceremonies. In particular, I explore the politics of belonging elicited by WTC and Acknowledgement rituals. Drawing on ethnography of non-Indigenous people who work in Indigenous affairs, I argue that widespread enjoyment of these rituals among White anti-racists is explained because they paradoxically experience belonging through a sense of not belonging.

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Author Biography

Emma Kowal, Deakin University

Emma Kowal is Associate Professor of Anthropology in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Principal Research Fellow in the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University.