Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Arts


This thesis explores the implications of colonial whiteness in the actions of communities supporting the struggles of First Peoples in Australia and Canada. Exploring how whiteness manifests itself, how it permeates as epistemic blank spots into the actions of those promoting respect and recognition, is used as a basis to reflect on social justice in contemporary society. The emerging field of critical whiteness studies provides a solid foundation to engage with whiteness. Scholarship on the hegemony of technological discourse is drawn from to extend on this foundation. The notion of human history as a history of progress and the associated scientific hierarchisation of knowledges is rooted in relations of power|knowledge that perpetuate culturally inappropriate colonial relationships.1 Gene Sharp’s work on consent theories of power and Jacques Ellul’s engagement with Technological Society are engaged with to explore how such hierarchisation of knowledges is maintained. The pervasiveness of this relation is explored in three case studies to reflect on the implications. Engagement with white interpretations of the 1966 walk-out of Aboriginal stockworkers and their families at Wave Hill provides an historical grounding of contemporary whiteness. Interpretations of the walk-out as a strike that later shifted in focus, counter to oral historical accounts, are used as a basis to consider how manifestations of whiteness in Australia have shifted in the last 40 years. The 2001 formation of the Community Picket at Sandon Point, as a means to oppose a residential proposal, provides a focus for reflecting on whiteness in contemporary Australia. The Picket was established to offer support to the Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy (SPATE) and promote a progressive variant of ‘practical reconciliation’. Friends of the Red Hill Valley’s support for Haudenosaunee Treaty rights, in opposing an expressway proposal for the valley, is comparatively engaged with to reflect on contextual variations in how whiteness manifests itself in Australia and Canada. Exposing the actions of white supporters as counter-hegemonic and a challenge to aspects of whiteness whilst unintentionally maintaining unjust colonial relationships at the same time locates some of the challenges for both scholarship and action in the area of social justice. 1 Nikolas Rose, following Foucault and focussing on (self) governance and freedom, refers to the study of such changes as a genealogy (1999: 65-6).

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.