A Remarkably Tolerant Nation? Constructions of Benign Whiteness in Australian Political Discourse

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Standfield, Rachel (2009) A Remarkably Tolerant Nation? Constructions of Benign Whiteness in Australian Political Discourse. Borderlands E-Journal, 3 (2). ISSN 1447-0810


Much analysis of race in Australia focuses on ‘racist’ ideas and individuals. This group is often understood to be disconnected from the rest of the Australian population who are identified as being anti-racist or neutral and ‘benign’ on issues of race. While commentators and academics are happy to analyze the ‘racist’ Australians, they seem far less willing to look at the group that they themselves generally identify with. Whiteness studies, working from the premise that all whites benefit from their racial identity, creates a space to scrutinize these ideas of benign whiteness. The construction of benign whiteness is apparent in arguments about land rights in the 1970s, multiculturalism in the 1980s, the political success of Pauline Hanson in the 1990s, and reconciliation and the history wars in the present decade. This paper attempts to provide historical contextualization to these constructions of benign whiteness and analyzes the power relations inherent in anti-racist practice. It proposes that the idea of a benign white nation with elements of aberrant racism helps to ensure the perpetuation of white race dominance.

Item type Article
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/4607
Official URL http://www.borderlands.net.au/vol3no2_2004/standfi...
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society
Historical > FOR Classification > 2002 Cultural Studies
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Work-Based Education Research Centre (WERC)
Keywords ResPubID18781, Australia, racism, benign whiteness
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