Theorising Internal Colonialism in Australia

By Christine Jennett.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The theory of internal colonialism has been applied to the structural relationships between first nations and the settler state, economy, and society (Stavenhagen 1965; Casanova 1965; Blauner 1969; Hechter 1975, 1999; Wolpe 1975; Hartwig 1978). In this paper it will be applied to the situation of Indigenous peoples in Australia (Jennett 2011) and compared and contrasted with Blagg’s (2008) recent work on neo-colonialism in a globalised world in which he identifies the existence of two separate domains, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. He argues for the need for hybrid institutions which respect the Aboriginal domain and accommodate Aboriginal solutions to Aboriginal-identified problems, as well as provide access to knowledge and resources controlled by settler governments (state and national) in the non-Aboriginal domain. It will be argued that the theory of internal colonialism continues to explain the structures of power which disadvantage Indigenous Australians in a culturally allocated division of labour (Jennett 2011; Hechter 1975, 1999). However, Blagg’s focus on the institutions of the frontier may provide a much needed conceptualisation of “a way forward” which empowers Indigenous people in Australia.

Keywords: Internal Colonialism, Neo-Colonialism, Institutions of the Frontier, First Nations, Australia

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp.169-180. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 760.887KB).

Dr. Christine Jennett

Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Arts, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Dr. Christine Jennett is a political sociologist and criminologist. Her research and publications are in the following areas: relationship of first nations peoples with the state, social movements, public policy, social inequality, policing studies, and fear of crime. Her books (with R.G. Stewart) are Three Worlds of Inequality, Politics of the Future, Hawke and Australian Public Policy. Her most recent publication is C. Jennett (2011) “Internal Colonialism in Australia” in G. Minnerup and P. Solberg (eds) First World Nations: Internal Colonialism and Indigenous Self-Determination in Northern Europe and Australia, Sussex Academic Press, Eastbourne.


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