A Different Inequality: The politics of debate about remote Aboriginal Australia

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Allen & Unwin, Aug 1, 2011 - Social Science - 224 pages
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A must read for anybody with a serious interest in understanding the current conflicted views about remote Aboriginal futures.' - Nicolas Peterson, Professor of Anthropology, Australian National University

'In this insightful and different book Austin-Broos challenges us all.' - Bob Gregory, Professor of Economics, Australian National University

Great beauty is juxtaposed with seemingly endless grief in remote Aboriginal Australia. Communities which produce magnificent art and maintain ancient ways also face extremes of social stress.

Why does our society seem to get it so wrong for remote Aboriginal communities? Why, despite decades of consultation and policy shifts, can't governments introduce initiatives that will really close the gap? Why do critics and scholars alike struggle to make sense of the situation?

Diane Austin-Broos looks beyond the dire living conditions, lack of employment opportunities, misspent funds and wrangles over resources, to ask where the obstacles really lie. Drawing on her extensive experience as an anthropologist, she identifies a polarisation in the debate about these communities which leads to either ineffective policies or paralysis. She argues that until we find ways to acknowledge both cultural difference and inequality, we will not overcome this impasse. The way forward can't be a trade-off between land rights and employment, but needs to encompass both.

This is a unique insight which will reshape not only the debate about remote Aboriginal communities, but also what happens on the ground.


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1 Two debates
2 Culture and ethnography
3 A postcolonial critique
4 Opposing separate development
5 Defending the homelands
6 The politics of difference and equality

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About the author (2011)

Diane Austin-Broos is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Sydney. She is the author of Arrernte Present, Arrernte Past.

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