Unsettling Artifacts: Biopolitics, Cultural Memory, and the Public Sphere in a (Post)Settler Colony
Doctor of Philosophy
My dissertation employed intellectual historian Michel Foucault’s notion of biopolitics—which can be most broadly parsed as the political organization of life—to examine the way the lives of Aboriginal people were regulated and surveilled in relation to settler European norms. The study is a focused investigation into a topic with global ramifications: the governance of race and sexuality and the effect of such governance on the production of apparently inclusive cultural productions within the public spheres. I argue that the way in which subaltern peoples have been governed in the past and the way their cultures have been appropriated continue to be in the present is not extraneous to but rather formative of what is often misleadingly called “the” public sphere of dominant societies. In the second part, I analyze the legacies of this biopolitical moment and emphasize, particularly, the cultural politics of affect and trauma in relation to this (not quite) past. Authors addressed include: Xavier Herbert, P. R. Stephensen, Rex Ingamells, Kim Scott, Alexis Wright, and others. I also examine Australian Aboriginal policy texts througout the twentieth century up to the "Bringing Them Home" Report (1997).