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

Emma Kowal

Abstract


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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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5130/csr.v21i2.4280

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