“Welcome to country” and “acknowledgment of Country”: (Re)conciliatory protest
© 2020 Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association Academic Press. All rights reserved. In the past two decades, “Welcome to Country” and “Acknowledgment of Country” practices have become commonplace at the commencement of most public events throughout Australia, and it is highly unusual to participate in a public event where some words of acknowledgment of the traditional owners and custodians of the locale are omitted. This article traces the origins of such practices while identifying the semantic, political, and conceptual differences between them. It articulates how precolonial protocols of encounter among distinct groups and individuals inform “Welcome to Country” practices, attesting to the ontological and epistemological continuity of the latter in relation to the former. It explores recent trends in the public understanding and positioning of both “Welcome to Country” and “Acknowledgment of Country” speeches and events, contextualizing their emerging positioning within the fabric of Australian settler colonial relations, particularly in the context of contemporary discourses on Aboriginal sovereignty and the constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.