"Suffer Little Children"

the representation of Aboriginal disadvantage through images of suffering children, and the wages of spectacular humanitarianism

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Abstract

Contemporary Australia is plagued by scandals concerning Aboriginal children, which gesture to a broader injustice to First Nations peoples. The cycle of abuse and reaction prompts two questions: (1) why are wrongs to Indigenous peoples brought to crisis through the situation of children?; and (2) why does the situation remain unchanged? Drawing on Lacanian theory and Debord's account of the spectacle, this paper argues that colonial subjectivity draws upon the spectacle of wounded Aboriginal children as a source of self-knowledge (or enjoyment). It proposes that healing cannot take place, for First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians, before this 'enjoyment' is addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-629
Number of pages35
JournalTheory & event
Volume22
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Publisher 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • Colonialism
  • Lacan, Jacques
  • Debord, Guy
  • Psychoanalysis and culture--Australia
  • Childhood

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