Law Text Culture


T. Schirato


The main interest of this paper is to attempt to theorize, not the current Mabo debates, or even the various media productions of Mabo, but rather the notions of community which the media and other related institutions use to contextualize, situate, and evaluate Mabo. More specifically, I am going to suggest that various conservative productions of Mabo can be read as being predicated on discourses and narratives which strategically and necessarily locate Aboriginal peoples simultaneously inside and outside the so-called Australian community. This paper does not attempt to trace the various developments, legal and otherwise, which led up to the High Court judgement in June of 1992, as does, say, Tim Rowse's 'Mabo and Moral Anxiety' (Rowse 1993). This paper is concerned, not so much with what Rowse calls 'The Possibilities of Moral Community' (1993: 245), as with the deployment of the notion of Australian community as a political and ideological practice. This, and other related issues, are to be addressed and theorized through reference to, and appropriation of, two recent sets of writings on the politics of community: specifically, Carole Pateman's and Slavoj Zizek's (separate) descriptions and critiques of enlightenment and social contract theory.