Logiques spatiales de colonie de peuplement et (non)migration autochtone intérieure en Australie

Translated title of the contribution: Settler-colonial spatial logics and indigenous internal (non)migration in Australia

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In Australia, the nebulous concept of ‘remoteness’ is central to Indigenous Affairs social policy. An enduring settler-colonial spatial imaginary positions remote Australia as simultaneously both the heartland of authentic Indigeneity, and a wicked policy problem. Over the last 50 years, the small Indigenous communities that predominate in remote Australia have been cyclically and discursively positioned as essentially parasitic: economically unproductive (in a neoliberal market sense), socially dysfunctional, and a consequent drain on government social spending. The state argues that continued investment in essential infrastructure and services in these small communities is not sustainable. The complex and important historical geographies of spatial and procedural justice that produce such renderings demand their own careful analysis and critique. The task of this paper, however, is to critically consider the preferred policy “solution” to the perceived predicament of governing Indigenous remoteness. Specifically, there are tacit, and largely untested, assumptions within Australian public praxis that greater Indigenous migration from small remote and rural communities to larger towns and cities, as a means of increasing Indigenous education and employment outcomes, will more or less automatically resolve this wicked policy problem. The empirical data presented in this paper suggest that the Indigenous Australian population is probably experiencing an urban transition at a similar rate to many more rurally-based societies in Asia and Africa. However, the context, regulation, management, experience and outcomes of remote/rural-urban migration are arguably vastly different in settler-states such as Australia than in low- and middle-income countries and not necessarily always aligned with State social policy objectives. This paper therefore considers alternative approaches to geographical theorising about Indigenous migration. In particular it returns to Mabogunje’s [1970] systems theory of rural-urban migration which is attentive to the specifics of both the wider economic, socio-cultural and political environment within migration occurs, as well as migrant agency, logics, decision-making processes and outcomes. This facilitates a move beyond what Kukutai and Taylor [2012] refer to as conventional ‘postcolonial demography’, to explore how we might engage in decolonising scholarship of Indigenous migration decisions, categories, experiences and outcomes.

Translated title of the contributionSettler-colonial spatial logics and indigenous internal (non)migration in Australia
Original languageFrench
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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