Native Imperialism And Its Implications On Aboriginal Identity

895 WordsNov 1, 20154 Pages
In the late eighteenth century prior to the arrival of the first European settlers, Australia was once believed to be a terra nullius, an uninhabited “nothing land.” The European colonizers of Australia sought to make something of this land they believed they had discovered. Operating under this false notion, colonizers systematically invaded and conquered Australia, imposing their own ways onto the land and its original custodians, the Aboriginal people. The introduction of western settlements disrupted much of Aboriginal life. In a publication titled, Is it in the Blood? Australian Aboriginal Identity, author Myrna Ewart Tonkinson discusses Western imperialism and its implications on Aboriginal identity. According to Tonkinson, what mattered most to the Europeans in their classification of Indigenous Australians was how they differed from Europeans rather than the differences between one another. Since the earliest days of colonization, “white Australians assumed the prerogative of defining and classifying Aborigines” (1990: 191). In defining Australianess or Australian national identity, the dominant ideology--white, English speaking Europeans-- contrasted Aboriginal Australians in relation to themselves, reinforcing a way of being that came to exclude these populations. The Europeans believed that culture was carried ‘in the blood,’ that color was the external indicator of both biological ancestry and culture, and that cultural characteristics...separated human groups
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