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The White Possessive

Property, Power, and Indigenous Sovereignty

2015
Author:

Aileen Moreton-Robinson

The White Possessive

How whiteness operationalizes race to colonize and displace Indigenous sovereignty

The White Possessive explores the links between race, sovereignty, and possession through themes of property: owning property, being property, and becoming propertyless. Focusing on the Australian Aboriginal context, Aileen Moreton-Robinson questions current race theory in the first world and its preoccupation with foregrounding slavery and migration. The nation, she argues, is socially and culturally constructed as a white possession.

Aileen Moreton-Robinson brilliantly shows how systematically identifying whiteness with possession and dispossession deserves foregrounding in Indigenous studies.

David Roediger, University of Kansas, author of Seizing Freedom: Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All

The White Possessive explores the links between race, sovereignty, and possession through themes of property: owning property, being property, and becoming propertyless. Focusing on the Australian Aboriginal context, Aileen Moreton-Robinson questions current race theory in the first world and its preoccupation with foregrounding slavery and migration. The nation, she argues, is socially and culturally constructed as a white possession.

Moreton-Robinson reveals how the core values of Australian national identity continue to have roots in Britishness and colonization, built on the disavowal of Indigenous sovereignty. Whiteness studies are central to Moreton-Robinson’s reasoning, and she shows how blackness works as a white epistemological tool that bolsters the social production of whiteness—displacing Indigenous sovereignties and rendering them invisible in a civil rights discourse, sidestepping issues of settler colonialism.

Throughout this critical examination Moreton-Robinson proposes a bold new agenda for critical Indigenous studies, one that involves deeper analysis of the prerogatives of white possession within the role of disciplines.

Awards

Best Subsequent Book Award from the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association

The White Possessive

Aileen Moreton-Robinson is professor of Indigenous studies at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, and is director of the National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network. She is author of Talkin’ Up to the White Woman: Indigenous Women and Feminism and editor of several books, including Sovereign Subjects: Indigenous Sovereignty Matters.

The White Possessive

Aileen Moreton-Robinson brilliantly shows how systematically identifying whiteness with possession and dispossession deserves foregrounding in Indigenous studies.

David Roediger, University of Kansas, author of Seizing Freedom: Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All

The White Possessive showcases the unique intellectual contribution of Aileen Moreton-Robinson, both within Australia and internationally. Prising apart concepts of race, ethnicity, and cultural difference, her book makes visible and accountable to patriarchal white subject of possession that subtends them.

The International Journal of Critical Indigenous Studies

The White Possessive

Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: White Possession and Indigenous Sovereignty Matters
Part I. Owning Property
1. I Still Call Australia Home: Indigenous Belonging and Place in a Postcolonizing Society
2. The House That Jack Built: Britishness and White Possession
3. Bodies That Matter on the Beach
4. Writing Off Treaties: Possession in the U.S. Critical Whiteness Literature
Part II. Becoming Propertyless
5. Nullifying Native Title: A Possessive Investment in Whiteness
6. The High Court and the Yorta Yorta Decision
7. Leesa’s Story: White Possession in the Workplace
8. The Legacy of Cook’s Choice
Part III. Being Property
9. Toward a New Research Agenda: Foucault, Whiteness, and Sovereignty
10. Writing Off Sovereignty: The Discourse of Security and Patriarchal White Sovereignty
11. Imagining the Good Indigenous Citizen: Race War and the Pathology of White Sovereignty
12. Virtuous Racial States: White Sovereignty and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Afterword
Notes
Publication History
Index