Kinship, organisations and 'wannabes': Aboriginal identity negotiation in south-western Sydney

Yuriko Yamanouchi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the ambiguous and dynamic nature of Aboriginal identity in south-western Sydney. While for most of the Aboriginal people in rural and remote areas, identity has been primarily a matter of kinship ties associated with their perceived place of origin, Aboriginal people often recognize each other as Aboriginal by sharing and recognizing certain 'Aboriginal' cultural mores and traits. These two principles of identity are flexible enough to be extended to those who are not raised in an Aboriginal family environment; one meeting with their Aboriginal family is a minimum requirement. In south-western Sydney, where organizations dealing with Aboriginal issues provide ways of connecting Aboriginal people from various backgrounds, in line with the government's homogenized notion of Aboriginality, Aboriginal people from Aboriginal family environments encounter those who cannot even meet this compromised criterion. Their presence gives rise to tension and conflict revolving around the concept of Aboriginality. Aboriginal cultural values that emphasize actual engagement provide ways of overcoming such dilemmas. Through common participation in the activities of the aforesaid organisations, Aboriginal people in south-western Sydney develop a new sense of 'Aboriginality', which embraces those who cannot claim kinship ties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-228
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


  • Identity
  • Kinship
  • Organisations
  • South-western Sydney
  • Urban Aboriginality


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