University Of Tasmania

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Burying Indigeneity: The Spatial Construction of Reality and Aboriginal Australia

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 10:52 authored by Atkinson, R, Taylor, E, Margaret WalterMargaret Walter
In this article we argue that spatial distance and historic socio-ethnic boundaries play a critical role in determining the relative priority given to groups that are marginally placed. These priorities are materialized through law. We utilize theories that understand ‘reality’ as something socially constructed: our impressions of the structure of everyday life are mediated in large part by our primary social group interactions. We profile the spatial distribution and relative segregation of Indigenous Australians, from urban to remote regional contexts. Our data highlights how even a predominantly urban Indigenous population remains out of the sight and mind of social and political actors due to its small numerical size and perceived social difference. We move to explain public policy formulation in terms of orientations that are influenced by the spatiality of social affiliations. We suggest that the spatially-bounded patterning of black and white lives supports the continued burial of Indigenous life. The socio-spatial construction of Indigenous life for white and other Australians has enabled both aggressive and neglectful policy instruments in which Aboriginal life appears as something that is politically, legally and spatially marginal.


Publication title

Social & Legal Studies








School of Social Sciences


Sage Publications

Place of publication


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community services not elsewhere classified