"This book breaks new ground in the study of postcolonial identity politics. Its analysis of the complex motivations, aspirations and ethical ambiguities arising from the legacy of colonialism is both compelling and certain to prompt productive debate." - David Trigger, University of Queensland
In Australia, a 'tribe' of white, middle-class, progressive professionals is actively working to improve the lives of Indigenous people. This book explores what happens when well-meaning people, supported by the state, attempt to help without harming. 'White anti-racists' find themselves trapped by endless ambiguities, contradictions, and double binds - a microcosm of the broader dilemmas of postcolonial societies. These dilemmas are fueled by tension between the twin desires of equality and difference: to make Indigenous people statistically the same as non-Indigenous people (to 'close the gap') while simultaneously maintaining their 'cultural' distinctiveness. This tension lies at the heart of failed development efforts in Indigenous communities, ethnic minority populations and the global South. This book explains why doing good is so hard, and how it could be done differently.
Emma Kowal is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Deakin University, Melbourne. She has also worked as a doctor and public health researcher in Indigenous health settings. She has published widely on Australian postcolonialism, whiteness and anti-racism, is co-editor of Moving Anthropology: Critical Indigenous Studies, and is an editor of the journal Postcolonial Studies.