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Reconciliation, Assimilation, and the Indigenous Peoples of Australia

Short, Damien
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) International Political Science Review. 24(4): 491-513.

Reconciliation as a peacemaking paradigm emerged as an innovative response to some of the mass atrocities and human rights violations that marked the 20th century. It provided an alternative to traditional state diplomacy and realpolitik that focused on restoring and rebuilding relationships. To that end, those creating reconciliation processes have set themselves the difficult task of laying the foundations for forgiveness through the establishment of truth, acknowledgment of
harm, and the provision of appropriate forms of justice. In 1991, the Australian government instigated a process of reconciliation between the indigenous peoples and wider society in order to “address progressivelyâ€? colonial injustice and its legacy (Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation
Act 1991: Preamble). This article seeks to demonstrate, however, that restrictive policy framing and a lack of political will have severely hindered the progress of the Australian reconciliation process. An alternative conceptual approach to settler state and indigenous reconciliation is suggested. Author’s abstract.


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