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'This very difficult debate about Wik': Stake, voice and the management of category memberships in race politics

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'This very difficult debate about Wik': Stake, voice and the management of category memberships in race politics
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  See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/12006241 ‘This very difficult debate about Wik’: Stake,voice and the management of category memberships in race politics  Article   in  British Journal of Social Psychology · April 2001 DOI: 10.1348/014466601164687 · Source: PubMed CITATIONS 49 READS 45 3 authors , including:Amanda LecouteurUniversity of Adelaide 7   PUBLICATIONS   94   CITATIONS   SEE PROFILE Martha AugoustinosUniversity of Adelaide 85   PUBLICATIONS   1,801   CITATIONS   SEE PROFILE All content following this page was uploaded by Amanda Lecouteur on 12 February 2015. The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file. All in-text references underlined in blue are added to the srcinal documentand are linked to publications on ResearchGate, letting you access and read them immediately.  British Journal of Social Psychology  (2001),  40 , 35±57  Printed in Great Britain # 2001 The British Psychological Society  35 `This very di¬cult debate about Wik’: Stake,voice and the management of categorymemberships in race politics Amanda LeCouteur  Department of Psychology, University of Adelaide, Australia Mark Rapley*  School of Psychology, Murdoch University, Australia Martha Augoustinos  Department of Psychology, University of Adelaide, Australia The issue of `race’ has assumed an extraordinarily salient position in Australianpolitics since the election of the conservative Howard government in 1996. Centralto debate in the Australian polity has been the nature of the relationship betweenindigenous, or Absrcinal, Australians and the rest of the population, in particularover the issue of the land rights of indigenous people. Land rights, or `native title’,assumed a pre-eminent position in national political life in 1996 } 97 with thehanding down by the High Court of the so-called `Wik judgment’. The discursivemanagementof the ensuing debate by Australia’s political leaders is illuminative of key sites of interest in the analysis of political rhetoric and the construction of `racially sensitive’ issues. Taking the texts of `addresses to the nation’ on Wik by the leaders of the two major political parties as analytic materials, we examine twofeatures of the talk. First, examine how the speakers manage their stake in theposition they advance,with an extension of previous work on reported speech intothe area of set-piece political rhetoric. Second,in contrast to approacheswhich treatsocial categories as routine, mundane and unproblematic objects, we demonstratethe local construction of category memberships and their predicates as strategicmoves in political talk. Speci®cally, we demonstrate how the categories of `Aborigines’ and `farmers’, groups central to the dispute, are strategically constructed to normatively bind certain entitlements to activity to category membership. Furthermore, inasmuch as such categories do not, in use, re¯ectreadily perceived `objective’ group entities in the `real’ world, so too `standard’discursive devicesand rhetoricalstructures arethemselvesshownto becontingently shaped and strategically deployed for contrasting local, ideological and rhetoricalends. `Race’, ethnicity and national identity have become the sites of sustained attention,contestation and con¯ict across both academic disciplines and the polity in the last * Requests for reprints should be addressed to Dr Mark Rapley, School of Psychology, Murdoch University,Murdoch, 6150, Western Australia (e-mail: m.rapley  ! murdoch.edu.au).  36  Amanda LeCouteur   et al.20 years. In the academy, the analysis of racism has ¯ourished(e.g. Buttny,1997; vanDijk, 1987, 1992, 1993; Walker, 1994; Wetherell & Potter, 1992), as has con¯ict overthe politics of `scienti®c racism’ (e.g. the Bell Curve controversy: Butler, 1998;Richards, 1997). In the politics of the `West’, although not exclusively, the end of the Cold War has seen the rise of nationalism and ethnicity as key organizing constructs in political discourse(e.g. Ignatieå, 1995, 1997). This study seeks to draw attention both to the current salience in Australian political talk of concepts of `race’, of national identity, and of versions of Australian history as  members ’concerns; and also to the ¯exible and local way in which `racial’ issues may beconstructed as such. While recognizing the disputability and inevitable partiality of any `context’oåered as background to a study such as this (see e.g. Potter, 1998; Schegloå, 1997; Wetherell, 1998), it is necessary to attempt a sketch, for an international audience,of some of the locally contingent historical, social and political events surrounding the texts that are analysed below.  Australia ,  Absrcines and native title Throughout Australia’s colonial history, `race’ has been a political issue of majorimportance( Alomes & Jones,1991;Hall, 1998).Disputation over the `accuracy’and`impartiality’ of accounts of racism in Australia’s colonial history has beenconsiderable (e.g. Hall, 1998). From the beginnings of European settlement in 1788,the management of relations between Absrcines,`Asians’ and the dominant Anglo-Celtic majority has been a recurrent and contested theme in Australian social andpolitical life. This has been re¯ected in o¬cial government policies, such as theforced removal and `assimilation’ of indigenous children (termed `genocide’ by theHuman Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC, 1997)), and theoperation of the so-called `White Australia’ policy in the 1940s and 1950s.Such policies have also been re¯ected in the constitutional and property law of both Commonwealth and State governments. The dispossession of Aboriginal Australians by the invading British was granted a constitutional imprimatur inCommonwealth law by the operation of the legal doctrine of   terra nullius , which heldthat, in 1788, the settlers of the First Fleet arrived in an `empty’ land. It is thisissueÐthe entitlement to land and the consequences of the legal challenge to  terranullius  by Aboriginal Australians, particularly since the late 1980sÐthat hassubsequently dominated the `race debate’ in Australia. This issue has also been a key motivating factor behind the rise of the National-Socialist-inspired One NationParty, led by Pauline Hanson (see Rapley, 1998).The doctrine of   terra nullius  was legally overturnedin 1992, following a land claimby Torres Strait Islander Eddie Mabo against the Queensland State Government.The High Court of Australia ruled in this case that an inherent  right   of nativetitleÐor indigenous ownership of landÐexisted where formerly none had beenacknowledged. The legislative response of the Federal Labor Government led by Paul Keating, the Native Title Act (1993), not only recognized that  terra nullius  wasindeed a convenient colonial ®ction, but also legislated the extinguishment of nativeownershipby all forms of land title except thoseknown in Australian law as `pastoral   Stake ,  voice and membership  37leaseholds’. "  However, in an appeal against the rejection of a native title claim by the Wik people, the High Court ruled, in 1996, that native title can survive, or rather beheld to co-exist, on pastoral leaseholds. It was this judgment, the so-called `Wik decision’, which was the direct precursor to the `race debate’ in Australia.Claiming that `uncertainty’ arose from the Wik decision, the Liberal } NationalParty Coalition State Government in Queensland froze the issue and renewal of mining leases and land developments in early 1997. Soon afterwards, the NationalParty of AustraliaÐalso coalition partners in the Federal GovernmentÐcalled forCommonwealth legislation to `extinguish’, unequivocally, native title on pastoralleases. Shortly thereafter, Absrcinal negotiators threatened to demand UN tradesanctions against Australia if native title were indeed extinguished. After a period of consultation with the `interested’ parties, John Howard’s Coalition Governmentissuedwhathedescribedathis `10-pointplan’to amend theexistingNativeTitle Act.This plan was described by Tim Fischer (leader of the National Party and Deputy Prime Minister) as oåering pastoral leaseholders not only `certainty’, but also`bucket loads of extinguishment’. The  ` race debate ’The race debate, as the political con¯ict over both the necessity and nature of a Federal legislative response was immediately dubbed by the media, became thedominant issue in Australian politics. Coming shortly after the political debut of Pauline Hanson in Federal Parliament, Australia polarized along broadly party lines.For example,  The Age  headlined the report of an analysis of public opinion by class:`Study ®nds gulf on racial issues’. The conservative Liberal } National CoalitionGovernment and its supporters sought to oåer what they described as `certainty’ tomining and farming interests,whereas the political left was broadlysupportiveof the Wik decision. The nationalistic and racist responses of the One Nation Party, andsocial polarization around`race’, in themselvesbecame aspectsof the politics of Wik.For example, a minor party, the Australian Democrats, released press statementsspeci®cally addressing what it termed the `perils of Pauline’ (`A nation divided?:The perils of Pauline and the crisis of leadership’, Australian Democrats, 1997).That the debate was publicly identi®ed as being about `race’ (rather than the lessemotive `property law’, as might also have been a reasonable gloss) and, speci®cally,about the contested entitlements of Aboriginal Australians to land, posed animmediate problem of delicacy for the parties to the political dispute (Obeng, 1997;Reeves, 1983). Prime Minister John Howard had been widely criticized for notpublicly repudiating Pauline Hanson’s racist maiden speech (Adams, 1997) and forhis public rejection of what he described as the `black armband view of history’(Hall, 1998). #  Simultaneously,Howardwasattacked forhis refusalto oåeran apology to Absrcinal people following the report of the Commission of Inquiry into theforced removal of Absrcinal children from their families (the so-called `Stolen "  Pastoral leaseholds are held on Crown land and carry restrictions on the commercial activities of their holders. #  The so-called `black armband’ view of Australia’s history explicitly recognizes the dispossession and genocide of  Absrcinal peoples andpoor treatmentofnon-Europeanimmigrants. The alternative (`white armband’?)view tendsto stress the achievements of heroic nation building and sacri®ce such as the Gallipoli debacle and the Snowy Mountains scheme.  38  Amanda LeCouteur   et al.Generations’ report; HREOC, 1997). As such, the problem of the discursivemanagement of his government’s response to the Wik judgment was particularly acute. Adding to her earlier claims that Australia was `in danger of being swampedby Asians’ (Hanson, 1996), Hanson issued anti-Aboriginal press releases (e.g.suggesting that: `with less than 2% considered to be quali®ed to make native titleclaims, it is racial discrimination, indeed an act of apartheid, to alienate the other98% of the population’ (One Nation, 1997). It was in this context that the responseby Howard to the Wik judgment, the 10-point plan, aroused great controversy. Theplan was formally opposed by spokespersons representing church groups and Aboriginal interests, both in government organizations (e.g. Gatjil Djerkurra, thechair of ATSIC, $  and Pat Dodson, chair of the Reconciliation Council) and at the`grassroots’ in regional Absrcinal Land Councils. Howard’s proposed legislation was described by Paul Keating as `savage, mean and racist’ (Commonwealth of  Australia, 1997b). The government itself was described as `racist scum’ by leading  Aboriginal lawyer, Noel Pearson (Commonwealth of Australia, 1997b).The issue was widely covered in tabloid and quality newspapers, with theelectronic media featuring interviews with senior political ®gures in both serioustelevision current aåairs programmes and on `shock-jock’ talkback radio pro-grammes. In the context, then, of massive media coverage and widely reportedpolitical con¯ict, Howardand, by his right of reply as Leader of the Opposition,KimBeazley, took the unusualstep of making a televised address to the Australian peopleon the issue. These addresses are the analytic focus of this study. Theoretical context   We build on a range of work in discursive psychology (Edwards, 1997; Edwards &Potter, 1992; Potter, 1996) which draws on the ethnomethodological andconversation-analytic tradition (Sacks, 1992), but which is also informed by enquiry in the sociologyof scienti®c knowledgeand work in the study of rhetoric(e.g. Billig,1991, 1995). Speci®cally, our analysis is informed by the work of Leudar (1995),Rapley (1998), and Reicher and Hopkins (1996a, 1996b) on the discursive analysis of political rhetoric. This work ranges from the elaboration of the large-scale speechepisode structure of persuasive political rhetoricÐor `mobilization discourse’Ð(Reicher & Hopkins, 1996a , 1996b) to more ®ne-grained analyses of the rhetorical devices adopted in political talk for the local purposes of promoting facticity,authority or consensus warranting (e.g. Dickerson, 1997; Leudar & Antaki, 1998).Our aims were to analyse two major issues of theoretical interest. First, we brie¯y examine how the speakers attended to possible claims that their statements about anexplicitly racial issue may be interested, partial or in some other way contaminatedby their stake in the matter. Second, we examine the discursive construction of thecategories of actors involved in the native title issue. In contrast to the treatment of social categories as uncontested and unproblematic social objects, perceived directly throughidenti®able physical and social features, oåered by social cognition (Fiske & $  Absrcinal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.
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