Please find below advance details of a final CSIS seminar for this session.
All welcome, as ever. Refreshments available.
Date: Wednesday 27 June
Venue: Room 401, Cypress Building, University of Liverpool
Title: Ngarrindjeri struggles post-Abolition and the South Australian Letters Patent: considering ‘white abolition’ as a theoretical/political project for Indigenous justice
Speakers: Steve Hemming and Daryle Rigney (Flinders University)
Steve Hemming is a Senior Lecturer in Australian Studies at Flinders University in South Australia. Since the early 1980s, he has worked closely with the Ngarrindjeri nation in the Lower Murray region of South Australia. More recently, he has worked with Ngarrindjeri leaders on research projects that address the relationship between natural resource management, Indigenous heritage management, Indigenous governance and wellbeing. Steve is Co-Director and Chair of the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority Research, Policy and Planning Unit based at Flinders University.
Daryle Rigney is a citizen of the Ngarrindjeri nation. Daryle is Dean of Indigenous Strategy and Engagement at Flinders University and an Associate Professor in Indigenous studies/education at the Yunggorendi First Nations Centre Flinders University. Recently he has worked with Ngarrindjeri leaders to develop relationships between Indigenous nations internationally on matters of mutual interest, including cultural and scholarly exchange. He is a co-chair of the United League of Indigenous Nations and Co-Director of the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority Research, Policy and Planning Unit based at Flinders University.
The British Colony of South Australia was established through Letters Patent that incorporated the following promise from King William IV:
‘…that nothing in those our Letters Patent contained shall affect or be construed to affect the rights of any Aboriginal Natives of the said Province to the actual occupation or enjoyment in their own Person or in the Persons of their Descendants of any Lands therein now actually occupied or enjoyed by such Native…’ ‘.
This document was developed in the British Colonial Office under the leadership of Sir James Stephens. Stephens’ father was a leading figure in the Abolitionist movement and he also made significant contributions to the anti-slavery movement. It is arguable that the South Australian Letters Patent intended a just relationship between colonists and Aboriginal people – an aspiration influenced by the politics of the anti-slavery movement. These aspirations should have produced a different set of power relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in South Australia. The promises contained in the Letters Patent, however, were ignored and this has led to a tragic history of oppression and ‘indigenocide’. The most extreme racial thinking underpinning official and non-official policies and actions located Indigenous Australians as non-human.
The Ngarrindjeri nation in South Australia has survived this history of colonial oppression and has embarked on what can be described as a localised project of ‘white abolition’. In this paper we borrow from the work of educationalist Zeus Leonardo and consider the strategic political and pedagogical work of the Ngarrindjeri nation as an example Leonardo’s white abolitionism in practice. The sovereign position taken by the Ngarrindjeri nation, through the negotiation of contract agreements with the South Australian Government, paves the way for the dual Ngarrindjeri strategy of self-determination and the abolition of ‘whiteness’ in the cultures and institutions that over-determine Ngarrindjeri futures in the Australian, settler colonial, white nation-state.