Rites of passage?

Fiona McAllan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


The concept of Australian democracy encompasses an assumed cultural unity where every sovereign subject possesses equal rights. Yet an assumed unity covers over the pre-existing indigeneity in order to ground this homogenous conception. As a continuing threat to the democratic foundations of Australian sovereignty, Indigenous people continue to find themselves on the fringe of a politically contingent space, where they lose the material structures that are privileged through common law. Sovereign legislations continue to uphold a fixed notion of community that relies upon a binarism that prioritises identity over difference, which denies the ongoing constitutive relations of shifting subjectivity entailing inter-subjective responsibilities. Difference, as in indigeneity, is foreclosed legislatively, in order to define and maintain the nation’s homogenous identity and its British Commonwealth roots. With a focus on the appearance of representative bodies, while hiding the power relations that materially construct systems of denial and oppression, claims for recognition, in contemporary debates regarding human rights, can reinforce an essentialised concept of an oppressed Indigenous ‘other’. Specificity regarding rights becomes compromised and oppositions emerge when tied to a base of equivalence.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPassages
Subtitle of host publicationlaw, aesthetics, politics
EditorsAndrew T. Kenyon, Peter D. Rush, Alison Young
Place of PublicationMelbourne
PublisherLaw and Literature Association University of Melbourne
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2006
EventInternational conference of the Law and Literature Association of Australia - Melbourne
Duration: 13 Jul 200614 Jul 2006

Publication series

NameLaw text culture
PublisherLaw and Literature Association University of Melbourne


ConferenceInternational conference of the Law and Literature Association of Australia


  • tradition
  • passage
  • border
  • transgression


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