1. johnjames
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    johnjames Member

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    Aboriginal Australians Non-Fiction

    Discussion in 'Research' started by johnjames, Oct 6, 2010.

    I'm thinking of writing a new book - a non fiction about the modern myths surrounding aboriginals and the settlement of Australia.

    See, I have extensive experience with aboriginals. Far, far more than the tourists, politicians and various and multitudinous others who have spread absurd myths about aboriginals.

    The title is "Gimme Two Dollah? - What We Did(n't do) to the Aboriginals".

    The title is a play on a very common statement by black-armbanders (a political group who believe Australian history is something shameful). BA's often say "what we (White people) did to the aboriginals".
    Oddly, I can never get the details of that "what" from them...

    The book critically analyses and debunks the absurd myths that Australia was "invaded", deconstructs the bizarre and unrealistic image of the settlers as being omnipotent conquerors, analyses the true impact settlement had on aboriginals - good and bad - and debunks the foolish myth of the so-called stolen generation.

    Going further, I will also deconstruct the "tourist" image of aboriginal culture, and state my experiences with the real modern aboriginals.

    Going from there: critically examine the so-called "White aboriginals", the people who have one thirty second of aboriginal heritage yet qualify for government benefits.

    To conclude the main body of text, modern issues of anti-White racism and tribal warfare in rural aboriginal communities.

    Then, government approaches to solve these issues, and why they don't work.
    My own experiences, and those of professionals.

    Finally, statements from full-blooded aboriginal intellectuals on these issues.

    The theme of the book is how this constructed image of aboriginals as perpetual victims, which in reality they never really where, is nothing but harmful.
    In Australia, aboriginals (or anybody else who can claim a tiny fraction of aboriginal blood) have literally more rights than anybody else.
    They are also exempt from many laws, and get almost no punishment for those laws they are subject to.
    This creates resentment, and social problems. Most noticeably between aboriginals and refugees.
    Honestly, you have never seen hatred until you see an African confront an aboriginal!

    Point is, I'm sick of White tourists and city-dwellers making up stories about aboriginals.
    These stories harm both Australia as a nation - unfairly and grossly innacurately branding Australia as "racist" - and harm aboriginals as a group, by alienating them further and further.

    So, ultimately, the goal of this book will be to prove that these myths and "positive" stereotypes of aboriginals are only doing them harm.


    So, what do you think about this? I'm particularly interested in the views of non-Australians on the theme of this book; as, typically, the stereotypical image foreigners have of aboriginals in Australia is both overwhelmingly positive (as far as stereotypes of aboriginal behaviour and culture), and innacurately critical of Australia (often stereotyped as being populated only by people of English descent, with an often media-backed view that resembles the black-armbander's.)

    I'm really curious what you think - I'd really like to write a book that, for once, depicts aboriginals in an accurate light.

    Thanks!
     
  2. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    BA's often say "what we (White people) did to the aboriginals".
    Oddly, I can never get the details of that "what" from them...


    You are not trying, then. It’s not hard to find eyewitness accounts of many atrocities from government records, contemporary newspaper reports, and people present at the scene or shortly after. My grandmother’s father left extensive diaries which mention plenty of goings-on.

    The book critically analyses and debunks the absurd myths that Australia was "invaded",

    Depends how you define ‘invade’. They infiltrated the country, slowly taking over land that had been used by the native people, forcing them to relocate. I assume you are concentrating solely on the main area of Australia itself when you say this—I mean, no one could possibly dispute the fact that Tasmania was invaded and its population systematically rounded up and exterminated.

    deconstructs the bizarre and unrealistic image of the settlers as being omnipotent conquerors,

    I’ve never heard anyone claim the settlers were omnipotent exactly, but they were conquerors nevertheless.

    analyses the true impact settlement had on aboriginals - good and bad

    True, some good came of this, and not all the administrators motives were bad—some of my grandmother’s family were paternalistic and Christian in their behaviour. However, my forebears were basically out to make money—they built many of the public buildings in Perth and Melbourne.

    - and debunks the foolish myth of the so-called stolen generation.

    This is documented fact, not myth, if you are thinking of the ‘Rabbit-Proof Fence’ scenario.

    Going further, I will also deconstruct the "tourist" image of aboriginal culture, and state my experiences with the real modern aboriginals.

    Yeah, well every country plays on its culture to earn money. It doesn’t invalidate the original concepts behind Aboriginal art, etc.

    Going from there: critically examine the so-called "White aboriginals", the people who have one thirty second of aboriginal heritage yet qualify for government benefits.

    It gets very complex when you come to modern times. There has to be some kind of legislation in place for aid, but it can be abused, of course.

    To conclude the main body of text, modern issues of anti-White racism and tribal warfare in rural aboriginal communities.

    Then, government approaches to solve these issues, and why they don't work.

    I suggest you look at other colonial experiences e.g. in the Near East or Caribbean, where the native peoples ‘just didn’t work’. Aboriginals are not alone in often opting out totally. The question is, why shouldn’t they?

    My own experiences, and those of professionals.

    Finally, statements from full-blooded aboriginal intellectuals on these issues.


    These are people far removed from the experience of ordinary aboriginal people. Look up essays on the North American Slavery issue—you’ll see the same old stuff again and again.

    The theme of the book is how this constructed image of aboriginals as perpetual victims, which in reality they never really where, is nothing but harmful.

    They certainly were victims, but it doesn’t help them or anyone to be ‘perpetual victims’ of course.

    You will need a huge amount of evidence to back up your apologies, good luck! I studied Australian Studies as part of my BA in Social and Economic History and the whole question is obviously far too complex to debate properly here. However, I am concerned that your work has the flavour of certain ‘historians’ who try to maintain that the Holocaust is a ‘myth’ that needs to be debunked.
     
  3. johnjames
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    johnjames Member

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    "This is documented fact, not myth, if you are thinking of the ‘Rabbit-Proof Fence’ scenario."

    Also... Holocaust denial, American slavery...

    Sorry; all you are saying are false stereotypes of Australia.

    Rabbit-Proof Fence was a deliberately innaccurate political statement. The movie, that is.

    Have you read the book? The autobiography of one of the girls in question? Completely different to the movie.

    The Holocaust is real. My ancestors fought against slavery.

    This is not "denial". It's debunking the myth that aboriginals are helpless victims!

    Sorry; Tasmania was certainly NOT invaded - the people were NEVER rounded up to be "exterminated"!

    What you say is 100% the kind fo myth that I'm trying ot debunk.

    Yes; the Tasmanian aborignals were rounded up... Because, during the confusion when two distinct cultures come into contact, the settlers gave the aboriginals food and supplies - which in the aboriginal culture of the area meant that the settlers had "permission" to "hunt" (farm, which the aborignals didn't understand as they were not agricultural).
    Following a severe drought, the settlers could no longer supply the aboriginals. In turn, the aboriginals attacked the settlers.
    Owing to their weak immune system, the aborginal population on the entire island was at about only 200. The settlers numbered in the thousands.

    The concern was that violence would wipe out the natives. As such, they were "rounded up" and deported to an offshore island.

    Of course, much like the rest of the facilities in the country in those days, the island the aboriginals of Tasmania were taken to was marred by abuse and generally poor conditions - no different to the so-called "invaders" endured.

    Following revelations of the poor conditions, the facility was closed - and the aboriginals sent back to Tasmania. Sentiments had cooled, though relations between two very distinct cultures could never be called "cordial" at that point.

    The Tasmanian aboriginals inter-bred with the settlers. Owing to their smaller numbers, the remaining - note not "exterminated" - Tasmanian aboriginals today have a significant european heritage as well.

    "It gets very complex when you come to modern times. There has to be some kind of legislation in place for aid, but it can be abused, of course."

    I'm not against legitimate aid. But, it's too easy to abuse.



    Sorry, but much of what you say is just the stereotype of "invasion" and "evil white people".
    Hell, I'm not even (entirely) white and that stereotype annoys me.

    The invasion/conqueror scenario is impossible.

    How do we have the dual stereotype of convict prisoners and ruthless conquerors?

    I think it links to the tall-poppy syndrome.

    "where the native peoples ‘just didn’t work’."

    I don't think you understand what I meant. Why the government solutions don't work; not why Aborignals are largely unemployed.


    Sorry; but they were never "victims" as a whole. Individuals can be victims; as individuals of any race.
    But to say that the entire race is nothing but a weak victim? Sorry, I do not understand.

    These are not apologies. These are arguments AGAINST the apoligists!
     
  4. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    There's nothing wrong with taking a confrontational stance, so long as you have good evidence to back it up. Good evidence is not conjecture; good evidence is eye witness testimony, expert commentary, political and demographic records. I don't want to get into the actual politics, but even if you have all the right evidence, you need to be careful with how you present it. Creating racial conflict is never forgivable, no matter how justified you feel it to be, and a book that is simply attacking Aboriginal people will never be published, at least not in the mainstream.
     
  5. johnjames
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    There's nothing wrong with taking a confrontational stance, so long as you have good evidence to back it up. Good evidence is not conjecture; good evidence is eye witness testimony, expert commentary, political and demographic records. I don't want to get into the actual politics, but even if you have all the right evidence, you need to be careful with how you present it. Creating racial conflict is never forgivable, no matter how justified you feel it to be, and a book that is simply attacking Aboriginal people will never be published, at least not in the mainstream.


    But it isn't attacking! It's defending the real aboriginal culture and people against a harmful, so-called "positive" stereotype.

    For crying out loud, I was born and raised in an aborignal community! My family have lived and worked with aboriginals for decades.

    All I care about is presenting an accurate image of aboriginals and the history of aboriginal interactions with the rest of Australia.

    No, I'm NOT saying it was all sunshine and butterflies. There were events that affected individuals and groups that were negative.
    But it wasn't an unmitigated disaster! It is nothing remotely comparable to the Holocaust, slavery, or what my own ancestors endured.

    It's not against aboriginals in any way. It's against the foolish image that a huge number of (white) people have that aboriginals are pure, simple, innocent, naive victims. This stereotype is extremely harmful!

    I worry that people will see that it's something to do with Aboriginals, written by a "white" guy, and their eyes will glaze over and they'll dismiss it as "racism", no matter how absurd that sounds.

    I fear that the meat of the message will never get through.

    Just lately; there have been internal refugees here in South Australia - inter-tribal violence from Aboriginals has forced on group to flee south.

    Aboriginals have real problems and issues that will never, ever, ever be solved will the tall-poppy syndrome infused black-armbander crowd continues to flagellate themselves over a history that is largely fiction and politicking; and aboriginal communities will never recieve the sincere aid they really need.

    That is why I need to debunk this ridiculous and grossly innacurate victim myths.
     
  6. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you need to back up your claims much more thoroughly if you go against the conventional wisdom. When you go along with people's prejudices, you can get away with anything; when you challenge them, you have to defend everything you say.

    What matters is how it is perceived. Can you present it so people will see it as a defense?

    Perhaps you can avoid this dismissal by displaying a genuine interest for aboriginal culture and a genuine sympathy for their conditions in the book.
     
  7. johnjames
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    The only problem with that - I don't really have a genuine interest in aboriginal culture. I am knowledgeable and experienced in it, but I don't like it. I don't dislike it either - it's just not significant to me personally. Perhaps because I'm so used to it, perhaps because I know intellectually that there is no single dominant culture that can really be called an "aboriginal culture". The differences between groups are distinct.
    What is important to me are the aboriginal people themselves, and their place in the vast cultural melting pot that is Australia.

    Basically, I want people to see aboriginals as just ordinary people not, zoo animals or a cultural freakshow for the tourists.

    After all, I've lived with them, as people, as normal people. That is what people need to see them as! That's what is needed so that they can truly become a part of Australia.
    That is why I'm trying to write this book.

    I do acknowledge I should go about it cautiously... but why? Because it's controversial? So what!? I'm right, or at least the enourmous volume of evidence I've collected over more than a decade strongly indicates that I am. Do I have to walk on eggshells because of my own race? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of trying to write a book that attempts to show aboriginals as normal human beings?
     
  8. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    JJ--I think you need to be a lot more dispassionate if you want to convince people.

    I did not use the word 'denial' or mention 'evil white people', you do. Like you, this subject is close to my heart. My grandmother's family originally came to Australia when her grandfather married a girl in Capetown who was the daughter of a planter and a native woman in the Dutch East Indies, so I am interested in both how native peoples are perceived and how they view their history, and I know how woven together the bloodlines of both so-called 'oppressed' and 'oppressor' are.

    The thing is, my family history and other official records do not entirely march with all your arguments. When I mentioned Rabbit Proof Fence I was not suggesting the film itself was historically correct. I simply mentioned it because it is a fact that such things occurred.

    I'm all with you in tearing down stereotypes and trying to depict how Aboriginal peoples really were/are. However, I think that your idea of 'normal people' in fact just means Westernised people. Please don't accuse me of reinforcing stereotypes by saying this. Of course, it is not necessary for a person of Aboriginal heritage to be interested in ancient Aboriginal customs or culture. You are going to the other extreme, though.
     
  9. johnjames
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    You are going to the other extreme, though.

    Sorry, elaborate.

    The thing is, my family history and other official records do not entirely march with all your arguments. When I mentioned Rabbit Proof Fence I was not suggesting the film itself was historically correct. I simply mentioned it because it is a fact that such things occurred.

    ...except that I am not saying that such things did not occur! What I am saying is that it's effects were not some high-reaching genocidal conspiracy.

    No, I don't think "normal" means "western". I think it means "normal".
    As in, real, not simply political fodder or subject matter to study.

    Honestly, "western"... I speak a dozen languages and am thoroughly experienced in half as many cultures.
     
  10. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I do not understand the point to this thread. Is there a question in any of this, or is this simply a declaration of intent? This area of the forum is meant to ask questions of the forum constituency, not declare a political/social/demographic/anthropological viewpoint.

    I will allow the OP an opportunity to pose a question. If there is none, then this thread's time is nigh.
     
  11. johnjames
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    Wreybies - I don't understand what you mean. The question is obvious; and people have been answering.

    It's whether such a theme can be accepted for it's factual material; or if political/ideoligical interpretations and preconceptions would void the idea of it in the first place.

    The responses I've been getting have been giving me clear indications of how the book would be recieved.
     
  12. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Hmm.

    It appears more like a thread aimed at a political argument from what I have read thus far.
     
  13. johnjames
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    Not my intent - but the theme is mired in politicking in Australia, so inevitebly, that is where it went.
     
  14. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This part is understandable. I live in Puerto Rico. The aboriginal people who once lived here (and some claim still do) are called Taino. Pop both together into a search engine and see when comes out. The displacement of native peoples and the very hazy line between fact and lore on the subject is not unique to Australia.

    We simply have a rather poor track record at the forum when threads go political. My mod-radar was pinging.
     
  15. johnjames
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    Ah, perfectly understandable! Admittedly, though, I don't know much about Puerto Rico - my latin ancestores where (mostly) from the Azores and Europe.

    It is interesting to know that similar debates occur, with similar mythos, in other nations though.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In any case, there is NO POINT in asking people to judge the merits of a story by offering them a synopsis or theme.

    There's no benefit in asking what other people think of the concept! They'll either say,"Sounds great," or, "it sounds like a ripoff of..."

    If the idea stirs you, write it. Then ask people what they think of the final story. After they tell you what they don't like about it, revise it, usually several times, until you're happy with it or until you throw up your hands and say the hell with it.

    You don't need permission to write the book.

    Of course, when and if you complete it, you have to try to sell it to a publisher.
     
  17. johnjames
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    True, Cogito - but, this is a complex issue. It's not so much whether or not I'll want to write the book; it's more about whether or not it'll be worth putting up with the death threats and flaming garbage bombs.

    Still, you're right. Perhaps a finished version would be better to query people with - a synopsis, as this thread has shown, leaves too much room for people to fill with preconceptions, stereotypes and mythological appirations. If the purpose of writing the book is too disprove such things... well, it defeats the purpose, doesn't it?
     
  18. Islander
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    Yes. Life's not fair. Adapt to it, and your book may change some people's minds.
     
  19. Daisy215
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    Well then perhaps you need a different purpose to write the book. Whether people think it's true or not, will that matter? Or is what matters putting it out there for people to decide for themselves?
     

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