In an impaired state: settler racial logic and prosthetic citizenship in Australia

Suvendrini Perera, Joseph Pugliese

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1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper connects two seemingly distinct categories of subjects—Indigenous people and asylum seekers and refugees—of the Australian state. In our analysis, Indigenous people and refugees and asylum seekers remain disparate subjects that are yet connected through the violent operations of the Australian biopolitical settler state and its ‘liberal art of government’, premised in Foucauldian terms, on the ‘interplay of freedom and security’. The biopolitical caesura upon which citizenship is predicated enables the rationalisation of the violence that is exercised by the liberal state in order to exclude those subjects deemed as ‘enemies of the state’ and as threats to the health, wealth, freedom and security of its citizens. We examine the operations of this biopolitical caesura in the context of the Australian settler-colonial state and its tradition of liberal governance in order to bring into focus both its racialised dimensions—what we term its white racial logic—and its ongoing violent effects on both Indigenous people and asylum seekers and refugees.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-494
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society
Issue number4
Early online date16 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Asylum seekers and refugees
  • Biopolitics
  • Border security policies
  • Citizenship
  • Critical whiteness


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