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État et multiculturalisme

Globalisation and the Australian Aborigines: gain or strain?

La Mondialisation : une chance pour les Aborigènes d’Australie ?
Ludivine Royer
p. 141-164


La mondialisation est un phénomène très complexe, qui implique à la fois l’émergence de l’économie de marché, l’accélération du commerce international, l’ouverture des frontières, la libre circulation des personnes et des biens, le développement extraordinaire des transports et de la technologie de l’information, la montée en puissance des télécommunications et des médias à l’échelle planétaire, l’expansion des cultures occidentales et le déclin des États-nations au profit d’institutions internationales en plein essor. Un nouvel ordre mondial est né, et comme la plupart des autres pays, l’Australie a connu de profonds changements depuis la fin des années 1980. Cet article se propose de montrer l’impact direct et indirect de la mondialisation économique, culturelle, technologique et politique sur le peuple aborigène. Bien entendu, il ne s’agit pas de présenter de manière exhaustive les conséquences multiples et complexes de la mondialisation sur les droits, cultures, et sociétés aborigènes, leur développement économique et leur statut politique. Il s’attelle en revanche à mettre en évidence les logiques politiques et socio-culturelles que la mondialisation a favorisées dans les affaires aborigènes, de l’assimilation à l’auto-détermination.

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Entrées d’index

Index de mots-clés :

aborigène, mondialisation

Index chronologique :

20th century, XXe siècle

Index thématique et géographique :

Australia, Australie, culture, histoire, history
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Texte intégral

1Since the late 1980s, the word ‘globalisation’ has been widely used, both quantitatively and qualitatively. As a whole new world order has taken shape, everyone has endeavoured to grasp the meaning of the complex, and indeed far-reaching process at work behind this somewhat abstract concept. Most people would probably suggest that globalisation is first and foremost the spread of capitalism in the wake of the collapse of communism, the emergence of a single worldwide market, the increasing interaction and interdependence of national economies, or the growth in international trade, networks of activity, investment and capital flows. Surely however, some would rather think of globalisation as the progressive breaking down of national frontiers, as a result of the extraordinary development of transportation, computer technology and global telecommunications. And in a more marginal way perhaps, others would describe globalisation as the decline of the nation-states, to the benefit of growing international institutions.

2Globalisation, of course, encompasses every one of these aspects. It operates equally in economic, cultural, social and political spheres, and the effects of globalisation are intertwined to such a large extent that it would be adventurous, and perhaps disingenuous to try and think of them separately. In the national context of Australia, this article therefore aims to consider globalisation as a worldwide phenomenon while necessarily entailing that it is an overview more than an acute analysis. The idea here is not to detail the Aborigines’ experience of globalisation over the past two decades, but rather, to try and reveal the most important consequences that globalisation has had on their people. In particular, this article is interested in showing how globalisation impacts on the overall political and socio-cultural logics which govern Aboriginal affairs —how it promotes, or on the contrary restrains, the processes of assimilation and self-determination. For, indeed, globalisation has affected Australia and Aboriginal people in different and sometimes conflicting ways.

Australia in the Global World: a Better Socio-Economic Deal?

  • 1 Alexander Downer, Australia Benefits From Globalisation, speech delivered by the Minister for Forei (...)

3No economist, whether they have Liberal or Labour leanings, would question the fact that the Australian economy has benefited in many ways from the emergence of the free market. Since the mid-1980s, when the country abandoned the inward-looking, protectionist policies of the 1960s and 1970s, most Australian indexes have been on the rise. As trade barriers started to fall, exports soared, particularly in newly competitive industries; Australia’s ratios of exports have risen from around 15 to 20 per cent, while manufacturing has doubled its share of Australia’s exports over the last twenty years. As well, as a result of reformed labour and capital markets, Australia’s industrial base was arguably strengthened; while firms were encouraged to adopt new technologies, increase training and seek new export markets, productivity growth in Australia became the second highest of all industrialised countries in the 1990s. Australia had the fourth highest Human Development ranking in the world by 2001, and a year later, it boasted the fourth highest real GDP per person among the world’s major economies. The rapid changes brought about by globalisation were transforming Australia in a steady and apparently lasting way; in 2003, Liberal Foreign Minister Alexander Downer pointed to further important improvements in competitiveness and employment, and globalisation was praised for significant rises in Australian’s real income and living standards1.

4However, economic globalisation has had its down-sides too; while the country has got richer, the free market has made it more exposed, and more vulnerable. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has consistently argued that globalisation and export growth translate into a rise of both wages and employment, and we may be prepared to believe its claim that over 400,000 Australian jobs were created by Australia trading with the world from 1984 to 1994. However, while it has no doubt created new jobs in high-tech and export industries, globalisation has put a great strain on the more traditional sectors of the Australian economy. With the opening of frontiers, heavy industry has declined, manufacturing plants have closed in many smaller towns, farms have struggled to keep afloat and farming populations have steadily decreased. Moreover, the outsourcing of labour to low-wage countries may well have resulted in a decline of wages and workplace standards for the unskilled, as argued by the leader of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Doug Cameron. Of even greater concern perhaps, most traditional sectors have had to drastically cut down on workforces, leaving many farmers and unskilled workers unemployed. When one considers the Australian economy as a whole then, trade liberalisation has led to more job losses than gains so far. Even the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been prepared to acknowledge that structural adjustment, rapid technological change and productivity improvements have driven a process of job shrinkage; yet, it immediately argues that such job losses deliver greater export competitiveness, which in turn can lead to sustainable, higher-paying and more numerous jobs. In the meantime however, the segments of the labour market which have been affected by unemployment and precariousness have found it hard to see the economic benefits of globalisation.

  • 2  Frank Stilwell, Economic  Inequality: Who Gets What in Australia, Sydney : Pluto Press, 1993, 22.

5Along with growing unemployment, the country has shown increasing, and more profound social and income inequalities. Although the advocates of globalisation argue that the benefits of international trade and investment automatically trickle down to workers and the community, Australia has witnessed an increased polarisation of the rich and the poor since the late 1980s. In 1996, the top 20% of wealth holders owned 72% of the wealth of the nation, and the top half of the populace owned 98.4% of the total wealth which, as Frank Stilwell points out, doesn’t leave much for the other half2. Admittedly, successive Australian governments long maintained a commitment to social welfare, emphasising job-creation and training and multiplying their efforts to try and reduce the inequalities of wealth, income and opportunity generated by the capitalist market. Yet, running counter to the popular mythology of an egalitarian society, a deep fault line has appeared between different segments of the population. Reduced barriers to trade and investment increased the gap between urban and rural areas, and while the opportunities for highly skilled and mobile groups widened, the opportunities for the low and semi-skilled groups in the labour market became fewer and fewer. Among a growing section of the Australian society then, the feeling is that the benefits of globalisation have been great for a few, and elusive for most. However, no neo-classical economists would advocate trade protection; countries such as China and India have shown that protectionist policies lead to nothing more than impoverishment. To counterbalance the undesirable social effects of globalisation, state ‘regulation’, rather than isolationism, is generally the preferred option.

  • 3  Brian Easton, “Globalization and a Welfare State”, proceeding from the conference Globalization, E (...)

6Obviously, state ‘regulation’ does not amount to state interference in the global context of the free market; the state has increasingly withdrawn from the economic sphere, as the many sales of public assets testify, and there seems to be no turning back in the globalisation era. Rather, state ‘regulation’ entails a strong public policy, which promotes a form of economic growth based on social justice. Such state policy could include such things as employment subsidies to assist unskilled workers in the industrialised world, measures to reduce wage inequality and guarantee basic incomes, stable macroeconomic policies to keep inflation low and maximise employment, and/or public spending in such key areas as education and health delivery. However, globalisation has made it difficult for governments to provide social protection and maintain social safety nets. In an excellent article, Brian Easton shows that international competitiveness will pressure the countries towards minimizing taxation, although enforced international standards prevent the signatory countries undercutting one another. The argument runs that countries where the state ignores social services will have lower taxation, attract more capital and labour, and so prosper. On the contrary, the countries with high public spending will necessarily heavily tax the industries and individuals on high incomes, running the risk that they move offshore to countries where the taxation regime will better serve their interests3. The result will mostly be a restricted welfare state, and Australia is no exception. As tax revenues are decreasing at a rapid rate, public service and government assistance have been seriously whittled down. Health and employment, for instance, have been increasingly taken care of by the private provision. The many ‘losers’ of globalisation, therefore, have found relatively little comfort in the state:

  • 4  Jennie George, “Opening Address to Globalisation Conference”, proceeding from the conference Globa (...)

To date, I think for our people, it’s all been very much the down side. Mass unemployment, structural unemployment, increasing inequality, insecure jobs, longer hours at work, the decline in extent and quality of services provided by the public sector, a decline in real wages at lower income levels, more people dependent on government assistance, growth in the numbers of the working poor and a generation of young unemployed who have virtually been left abandoned4.

7Most Aboriginal people would probably share this pessimistic view. As a highly disadvantaged group, if not the most disadvantaged, in Australian society, they have been greatly exposed to the different evils of globalisation which have so affected the non- and semi-skilled workers. For, indeed, with the decline in employment at lower income levels, many Aborigines have become dependent on the public sector, which itself has declined in extent and quality of services. Admittedly, the free market has opened up a few new economic possibilities, such as tribal art exportation. These have remained quite marginal however, and they have certainly not made up for the new strains which globalisation has imposed on local populations. From a perspective purely based on market-based growth then, Aboriginal people’s hopes for empowerment and better living conditions have been heavily disappointed. However, globalisation has not only affected the Australian economic landscape, but also the demographical, ideological, political, legal, cultural and societal landscapes. New horizons and possibilities have opened, which have affected the Aboriginal experience in deep, diverse and lasting ways.

Going Backwards with the ‘Race’ Agenda?

8One important consequence of globalisation has been Australia’s greater opening to Asia. Modern trade patterns have clearly increased regional orientation and strengthened further the links between Australia and Asian countries. By 1984, the volume of trans-Pacific trade exceeded that of transatlantic trade; the growth of the economy of Japan and the ‘four Tigers’, as well as the industrial development of Indonesia and Malaysia, were creating a dynamic regional zone while European economies stagnated. By the end of the 1980s, Asia-Pacific economies were pursuing many common trade and economic goals within the framework of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Australia had access to over 2.5 billion consumers in 21 member economies, and APEC members were responsible for more than half of Australian exports and imports. This led to agreements multiplying, including agreements on more open frontier policies. Australia’s long nationalist struggle for a homogeneous, mainly Anglo-white society seemed outdated. Asian immigrants now represented an ever-growing proportion of Australia’s immigrants, and as they arrived massively, the national socio-cultural landscape changed significantly. In fact, Australia’s resident population grew in diversity to such an extent that in 1996, one Australian in five was born elsewhere.

9The redefined immigration policies and the new challenges posed by globalisation were to have strong, and sometimes unexpected, indirect consequences on Aboriginal people. This occurred in part because they implied a repositioning in domestic affairs: Australia could choose to assimilate or better accommodate the newcomers, and thus give a new impetus to either white nationalism or multiculturalism. Both movements ran through Australian society, but in the early 1990s, multiculturalism was confirmed as the dominant political ideology, and the basis for nationhood. Indeed, Paul Keating’s Labour government was convinced that Australia’s best asset to succeed in the open economy was its socio-cultural diversity; success and adaptation to changes relied on social cohesion, which would be best served by the promotion of minority rights and cultures in multicultural Australia. As a consequence, the policies adopted in the first half of the Reconciliation Decade (1990-2000) between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people met the principles of inclusiveness: Aboriginal cultural practices were to be nurtured, remaining assimilationist practices removed, indigenous rights recognised and Aboriginal representative agencies empowered. Consequently, the Reconciliation process remained a possible platform for both Aboriginal land rights and Aboriginal self-determination.

10In the second half of the Reconciliation decade however, things started to change drastically. In the context of a national economy ruled by uncertainty and inequality in the global arena, Pauline Hanson’s extreme right-wing ideas started to be endorsed by a growing section of Australian society. Renewed forms of racist nationalism gained momentum, as ‘foreign’ capital and ‘foreign’ people were increasingly blamed for the country’s rising unemployment and growing inequalities. Not surprisingly then, Mrs Hanson particularly attracted followers among unskilled workers and rural dwellers, among those she called ‘ordinary’ citizens as opposed to the elites and the minorities; her call for urgent ‘protectionist’ measures, obviously, appealed first and foremost to those Australians who had suffered the undesirable consequences of unregulated globalisation. In the mid-1990s then, the idea emerged again that migrant minorities should be kept out while domestic minorities should be forced to assimilate:

  • 5  Pauline Hanson, “Australia, Wake Up!” (1996), in Donald Horne, Looking for Leadership: Australia i (...)

I and most Australians want our immigration policy radically reviewed and that of multiculturalism abolished. I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians. Between 1984 and 1995, 40% of all migrants coming into this country were of Asian origin. They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate [...] A truly multicultural country can never be strong or united [...] Abolishing the policy of multiculturalism will save billions of dollars and allow those from ethnic backgrounds to join mainstream Australia, paving the way to a strong, united country5.

  • 6  Annette Shun Wah, Laurence Abou Khater & Verity Burgmann, “Unity in adversity?”, The Age, 23 Septe (...)

11Clearly, as Australians worried about their future in a fast changing socio-economic context, conservative ideologies fared increasingly well. Consequently, Paul Keating’s ‘progressive package’ — a combination of republic, reconciliation, ‘Asianisation’ and multiculturalism — was defeated by a landslide at the 1996 general election. The majority favoured John Howard’s promises for economic reforms, although his political programme remained ambivalent with regard to socio-cultural issues. In fact, the leader of the Liberal Party himself soon proved to be quite ambivalent in that respect. On the one hand, he had condemned Pauline Hanson’s ideologies, along with all other mainstream politicians. But on the other hand, he would use the threat of growing extreme right-wing movements to carry out some of the policies they advocated. Blaming social divisions for the rise of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, for instance, the Prime Minister “proceeded to water down every internal policy and measure intended to promote a more inclusive and culturally sensitive governance”6. Although the policy of multiculturalism was never openly disparaged, the ethno-cultural diversity which Paul Keating had so cherished was no longer nurtured as a key to Australia’s successin the global world. On the contrary, John Howard made it clear that his government would work towards some socio-cultural levelling or homogeneity, in the interest of Australia’s cultural distinctiveness, social cohesion, territorial unity and economic stability.

12Accordingly, there was a clear political shift in both foreign and domestic affairs. Whereas Paul Keating had endeavoured to multiply regional agreements and partnerships, the Howard government played down the importance of Australia’s links to South-East Asia and the Pacific to rather turn to its traditional allies and partners, Britain and the United States. Meanwhile, immigration was considerably reduced, massive Asian immigration was no longer welcome, the programmes meant to accommodate newcomers were undermined, and the subsidies which had been granted to immigrants’ organisations were significantly cut back. Australia was curling up. Both immigrant and domestic minorities were now encouraged to conform to the Australian model, so that multiculturalism was to be set against increasingly assimilationist programmes. This became apparent when the government abolished both the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Bureau of Immigration, Multiculturalism and Population Research, for instance, and when it proceeded to significantly reduce the grants allocated to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC). Admittedly, when asked to account for the abolition of these major departments, the underfunding of many minority programmes and the narrowing of the ATSIC budget, the government has consistently put forward economic, rather than ideological imperatives; the national budget deficit, they argued, compelled them to proceed to large cuts in public spending. However, John Howard’s decision to impose the most drastic cuts in the socio-cultural sphere has been so perfectly in line with his socio-political ideas that economic constraints appear to have helped him enforce his broader agenda. The Prime Minister has always argued that ethnic-based structures ran counter to ‘social cohesion’ that special minority rights were both discriminatory and divisive, and that cultural recognition should not threaten the ‘general interest’. In that context, there was of course little opportunity for Aboriginal empowerment, and even less so for Aboriginal self-determination.

The Spread of a Global Culture: Towards a Homogenized World?

13The consequences of globalisation and Australia’s ‘Asianisation’ on Aboriginal affairs are further-reaching, however. The fact that Asian immigrants and Asian products have massively arrived in the last two decades has raised several types of responses in the mainstream: some people have felt the need to ‘protect’ their country against the ‘Yellow Peril’, re-enacting a sentiment of fear deeply anchored in the national psyche, while others have felt the need to better embrace the country’s increasingly assertive reality of multiculturalism. In all cases, Australians have endeavoured to redefine the core of their national identity - in a more pressing way perhaps as the global economy is commonly felt to be crushing national identities. In the meantime, Australia was heading towards new forms of partnership with its Aboriginal people. The world was opening to the recognition of its ‘first nation’ peoples, national decolonizing processes had become prominent in many liberal democracies, and Australia was keen to play a leading role in the new global ideology. At the dawn of the 1990s, the country had thus decided on a national agenda of ‘reconciliation’— a ten-year process meant to settle the differences between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. Not surprisingly therefore, the Reconciliation process and the process through which Australia was restructuring its identity were soon associated, at times even assimilated. A consequence of this was that millennia-old Aboriginal cultural identities became increasingly used as means to anchor the Australian identity. This was made evident in the opening ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games, for instance, as Aboriginal cultural practices, spiritual beliefs and historical experiences were given prime importance. In a way then, the threat of both cultural invasion and global assimilation led Australia to acknowledge, value and protect its Aboriginal heritage more.

14However, many other aspects of globalisation have worked against the current of Aboriginal cultural empowerment. Aboriginal cultures have not remained isolated of course, and increasing national recognition has not measured up against the powers of global assimilation. Global markets, global media and global entertainment companies have consistently spread and imposed Western cultural customs and principles on local populations, so much so that Aboriginal people have come to see globalisation as ‘cultural imperialism’, or ‘neo-colonialism’. Along with cultural nationalists and other ethnic minorities, they have warned that a drastic reduction of cultural diversity was taking place, to the benefit of a uni-polar culture largely inspired by the archetypical American middle-class family.

  • 7  Wole Akande, “The Drawbacks of Cultural Globalization”, Yellow Times, 10 November 2002.

The aggressive spread of market economics and communication technologies - often under the control of Western multinationals - brings new challenges to local cultures and values [...] Sometimes it seems as if a tidal wave of the worst Western culture is creeping across the globe like a giant strawberry milkshake oozing over the planet, with a flavor that is distinctly sweet, sickly and manifestly homogeneous7.

15Already, globalisation has affected Aboriginal people in many complex ways, which could perhaps be best united under the heading ‘disruption’. The spread of English as the language of globalisation has further reduced the odds of Aboriginal communities being able to keep their languages alive. The rise of individualism and the decline of social solidarity have put great pressure on core cultural values such as kinship, sharing, and obligation to the community. Traditional hierarchies have been largely replaced by class-based hierarchies, and the growing influence of good-owners has come to undermine the traditional authority of the Elders. Local culture has ceased to serve as the means of constructing societal values, reproducing group identity and building social cohesion. Instead, global consumerism and seductive advertising have created fresh desires, which have led many young people to discard existing values and traditions. And as global cultural industries are taking over traditional forms of creation and dissemination of culture, there is no guarantee whatsoever that traditional knowledge will continue to be handed down. Even so, Aboriginal people do not advocate cultural isolationism; cultures are not static, and preventing them from developing is the surest way of seeing them die out. However, the rate at which their cultures are being undermined and marginalized in the global world causes Aboriginal people great concern. Cultures should surely be allowed to share and mingle, but the Aborigines’ future and survival as a distinct people requires that theirs be not denied in the process.

16Yet, powerful processes of cultural assimilation have been at work both at home and abroad. Globalisation has meant not only the spread of an American-like culture in Aboriginal communities, but also the commercialization of Aboriginal culture in the new global world. Turned into commodities, Aboriginal cultural identities are progressively merging within the global culture. This is not to say that Aboriginal values and practices have been accommodated in the global world; global culture has remained quite impervious to the non-Western elements it has progressively assimilated. Rather, as Western cultural principles have swept the world, Aboriginal cultures and ways of life have become simple products for global consumerism. Sometimes, cultural products are sold in the market place by their traditional Aboriginal owners, who may see the propagation of their traditional culture as a way to economic and cultural empowerment. Often, however, Aboriginal people’s traditional knowledge and skills are used for commercial ends without their consent. Misappropriation, illicit reproduction and unauthorized adaptation of Aboriginal culture are nowadays common practices, and the consensus is that they constitute a terrible, permanent threat. For, indeed, the substitution of non-indigenous people compromises cultural ‘authenticity’ and continuity, while competition undermines the possibility of Aboriginal empowerment in both national and global society.

17Therefore, in an attempt to quarantine their cultures from the negative effects of globalisation, Aboriginal people have demanded a better protection of traditional cultural systems and collective intellectual property rights. So far however, Western intellectual property right systems have fallen short of their expectations; as they are essentially meant to protect the written, tangible cultural property of individuals, they have failed to provide adequate legal means of protecting Aboriginal knowledge and traditions. As they have watched the global consumer culture overwhelm their local cultures and values, Aboriginal people have thus felt increasingly powerless. Many have tried to resist and break the apparently unbreakable logic of global Westernization. This has translated into renewed cultural productions, and some would say, into an exacerbated sense of local identity. In particular, local cultures are being dynamically reclaimed through music, dance, drama, artefacts and folk culture, in an effort to slow down the global homogenizing cultural process. However, such reassertion of cultural identities has had such marginal impact on the global trend that resistance appears to be mainly symbolic. While Aboriginal people had achieved much to counteract successive domestic policies of assimilation, they now must face a more global and pernicious form of assimilation — transnational assimilation — which cannot be so well resisted through local actions or politics.

The Double-Edged Impact of the Internet

18Global telecommunications have played an undeniable role in both the emergence and the propagation of global culture. The Internet, computers, fax machines, satellites and cable TV have proven central to the breakdown of traditional cultural boundaries, allowing instantaneous communications and massive cross-border exchanges to take place. As such, they have posed very distinctive threats to Aboriginal cultures; because the new information technology is mostly owned and controlled by Western countries and corporations, the development of global communication tools has been responsible for much of the world’s westernization. However, global communications have also opened broad new possibilities for indigenous people worldwide. There is no doubt that access to the new technologies is determined by race, class and literacy; the affluent, literate, white communities in advanced western nations are the most likely to share in the benefits that might be gained from the information revolution. However, indigenous peoples have largely managed to overcome the obvious disparity of access to the basic technology. Through their most literate people, and via educational institutions and community organisations, they have successfully projected their culture onto the world and got their socio-political messages out. Therefore, the claim that global communications have promoted transnational assimilation must be mitigated. Although they have allegedly played a major levelling role, they have simultaneously allowed indigenous people’s cultural and political empowerment by giving them a voice in the global world:

  • 8  Gary Foley, “Power, Politics and the Internet”, Gary Foley’s Koori History Website, May 2000.

Extensive use of the Internet by indigenous groups around the world [enabled them] to not only project news of their struggles and their ideas and philosophy, but also to connect up with fellow indigenous peoples around the globe and share experiences and aspirations.8

19Among all the new communication devices, the Internet has perhaps been the central element to the empowerment of historically voiceless people. Everyone with access to computer technologies can now generate information, share in a large array of discussion groups and forums, use a vast range of information resources and connect with a myriad of individuals or bodies. Clearly, this stands in sharp opposition to the broadcast age, in which a few wealthy owners of recording and broadcasting technology were able to shape mass perceptions and beliefs.

  • 9  Rob Kitchin, Cyberspace: the World in Wires, Chichester : Wiley, 1988, 3-4.

20The Internet has therefore meant greater freedom of expression, further democratization of information and broader decentralization of power. Certainly, global media are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few global corporations. And admittedly, the possibility exists that these major corporate interests will ultimately impose their wealth and power to gain control, and exercise censorship over the worldwide web. For the time being though, the Internet has remained of an independent, ostensibly unrestrained nature; as Rob Kitchin remarked, it has proved to be a “vast collection of computers linked to networks within larger networks spanning the globe, a huge anarchic, self-organising and relatively unpoliced system”9. Outside the control of powerful corporations and nation-states to a large extent, then, the Internet has created new spaces and new possibilities for political action, social emancipation and cultural assertion. Existing power structures could at last be challenged, and of course, indigenous peoples across the globe have made broad use of it to this end.

21Aboriginal political and socio-cultural claims could now exist outside the state’s control, and their actions were no longer restricted to local activism. With the rise and expansion of the Internet, they have been able to operate internationally faster and farther than ever, gaining the whole world as a potential audience for rather minimal outlay. Suddenly, their campaigns were given new impetus. In all areas where negotiations with the state had stalled, Aboriginal people could now turn to the international community for support and assistance. For instance, Aboriginal people have found fervent supporters and strong political allies in environmentalist groups worldwide. Sharing the same combat for the sustainable management of the natural environment, they have together opposed the advocates of globalisation. While the latter maintain that the world economy has contributed to environmental improvements by promoting growth, innovation and international standards, both indigenous people and environmentalists argue that globalisation has put a great strain on the environment. In chorus, they have blamed the large-scale activities of multinational corporations for global warming, widespread chemical pollution, the depletion of natural resources and the reduction of the planet’s biodiversity. Both groups have had the same cause, then, and both have seen an interest in running a common political campaign. On the one hand, well-organised and well-funded environmentalist groups have brought indigenous people their important resources, their experience in campaign organisation and their ability to mobilize the global media. On the other hand, indigenous people have offered environmentalists a striking living example of the drastic consequences which the destruction of the earth could have. Indeed, as indigenous people have a distinct spiritual and material relationship with the land, their local cultures, knowledge systems, health patterns and traditional economies have been greatly undermined. Together then, and thanks to information technology, they have been able to raise awareness, recruit widely, gather funds, rally other pressure groups, and ultimately, pressurize both national governments and international organisations in meaningful ways.

International Rights: Aborigines’ Political Empowerment or Disillusionment?

22Aboriginal people’s political empowerment has been a continuous trend since the emergence of the global world. Not only have they been able to link with supporters worldwide to renew pressure on the Federal and the state governments, but growing international agencies have given them new rights and new possibilities for emancipation. Admittedly, Aboriginal people have had grounds for appeal beyond Australia on the basis of international treaties and conventions since the 1940s, when the first great international human rights documents were drawn up. However, the developments which have occurred from the 1980s have revolutionized their way of relating to both national and transnational legal institutions. Indeed, the human rights obligations of signatory countries have been progressively expanded to include the recognition of the ‘special’ rights of indigenous people, while the international community has increasingly used its discretion to intervene in indigenous-related domestic affairs. As a consequence, Aboriginal people can now claim both their rights as Australian citizens and their rights as ‘first peoples’, in accordance with their status under international law. They can also resort to international agencies when they think that their rights are not enforced, or when they consider that the Australian government’s policies run counter to the principles that are embedded in international conventions. International instruments have thus indisputably provided Aboriginal people with new legal tools, new tribunals, and new means of exerting pressure on the government.

23Among a myriad of international agencies, the United Nations has played a particularly important part with regard to Aboriginal people’s rights. As early as 1982, a Working Group on Indigenous Populations was created within the UN, on the ideological basis that indigenous people’s separate and unique status entails specific rights, which in turn require particular recognition. For the first time, indigenous people’s rights were distinguished from the rights of minorities and communities as encompassed within the original Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The idea of the Working Group was to permit government representatives and indigenous organizations to find an agreement on a universal declaration of the rights of indigenous peoples, and noticeably, Australian governments and Aboriginal groups committed themselves very actively to the task. In 1993, a Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was finally released. It was hoped that the document would find a unanimous endorsement by the member-states of the UN, but the governments fell short of indigenous people’s expectations; despite another decade of discussions and negotiations, no formal agreement was reached by the end of the International Decade for the World’s Indigenous Peoples (1995-2004). However, the process through which the Declaration wasboth drafted and debated had speeded up the internationalization of the indigenous rights movement; a growing and influential global activist network had been created, which conducted coordinated actions for the protection of cultures, the promotion of social justice and the recognition of indigenous rights. Moreover, the Draft Declaration came to represent one of the major milestones in the global conceptualisation of indigenous rights. Consequently, even though it was not given the mandate to be politically or legally authoritative, no one UN member country could escape its implication and influence.

24The Draft Declaration, like many other international conventions and sets of principles, has pervaded most domestic issues in Australia. Whether legally binding or not, international instruments have been used to a great extent, and in many different fields. To give one instance of their intricate relationship with national instruments, we have only to take the example of the whole native title process in Australia. The starting point of the process was a major court decision, the Mabo judgement (1992), which both overturned the doctrine of Terra Nullius and recognised Aboriginal people had a native title to land. Yet, as a piece of litigation in the first place, Mabo was concerned with the rights of a small group of Islanders to specific parcels of land on the Murray Islands. Concerning land on the mainland of Australia, there was before the Court in Mabo no issue, no claimant, no respondent, indeed, no case. The revolutionary outcome of the Mabo decision was therefore prompted much more by general principles than specific evidence. And noticeably, those principles were heavily influenced by international standards and conventions, as Justice Brennan readily acknowledged in Mabo & Ors v State of Queensland:

25The opening up of international remedies to individuals pursuant to Australia’s accession to the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights brings to bear on the common law the powerful influence of the Covenant and the international standards it imports. The common law does not necessarily conform to international law, but international law is a legitimate and important influence on the development of the common law.

26The importance of international instruments in Australia’s dealings with Aboriginal land rights was further admitted in the piece of legislation which confirmed and completed the Mabo judgement. In the preamble to the Native Title Act 1993, specific reference is made to Australia’s ratification of the International Bill of Human Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Equally, the content of the Act is in complete accordance with the spirit of the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 169, although Australia never came to ratify it; both support and protect Aboriginal people’s rights to the lands, including their right to participate in the use, management and conservation of all natural resources within their ancestral lands and territories, their right to return in ownership of their traditional lands, and, should this be impracticable, their right to demand just compensation for alienated lands. The Convention’s influence on Paul Keating’s Act is unquestionable, particularly as the ‘right to negotiate’ and the ‘good faith consultation’ clauses contained in the Native Title Act are exact replicas of provisions in ILO 169 .

  • 10  Section 51(xxix) of the Constitution states: “The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, (...)

27In the early 1990s, Australia was eager to meetinternational standards of human and indigenous rights. Both the Hawke and Keating governments endorsed the idea that Australia had international responsibilities, and both were prepared to have the international community monitor their human rights performance. Consequently, both welcomed the establishment of UN human rights committees. In 1991, Bob Hawke allowed Australians to litigate their differences before international agencies by ratifying the First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Justice Brennan would later refer. And in 1993, Paul Keating further involved the UN committees in Australian domestic disputes by recognising the competence of the Committee Against Torture and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Australia was willingly opening to international scrutiny and seemed prepared to bear the consequences that this political choice entailed. Indeed, the endorsement of UN human rights committees was to have a significant impact on Australia, although the statutes of the committees restrain them to a purely advisory role. First, the UN committees have offered an alternative legal authority to which individuals can turn to support claims and make complaints. Second, they have influenced the decisions of both the legislatures and the courts by providing them with international standards, and when necessary, by reminding them of their international obligations. Third, the UN conventions and committee findings can constitute a matter relating to external affairs under section 51 (xxix)10 of the Constitution, and thus enable the Commonwealth to override state powers and legislate on a broader range of issues. Fourth, the UN committees have prompted Australia to improve its performance on human rights by requiring that it report periodically on its domestic developments. Accountability was extended beyond the domestic constituency, and clearly, at least during the first half of the Reconciliation decade, Australia was careful to avoid international embarrassment.

28However, Australia’s relations with the UN human rights system have considerably deteriorated under the current Liberal government. The country has been widely viewed as contravening its international obligations under a number of UN conventions, particularly, if not exclusively, in its treatment of Aboriginal people. In August 1998, for instance, Australia became the first and only Western developed country to have received a warning about its record on racial discrimination. The UN committee set up to represent the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination found that the amendments made to the Native Title Act revoked indigenous titles to land, and more generally, they expressed concern about Aboriginals’ continuing political, economic and social marginalisation. Consequently, the CERD urged Canberra to re-open discussions with Aboriginal representatives, with a view to finding solutions that comply with Australia’s obligations under the Convention. Instead, the Howard government rejected the CERD decision as ‘insulting’ and ‘unbalanced’. In March 2000, Australia’s failure to keep up with its international obligations was again highlighted. This time, the CERD found that mandatory jail sentencing laws in the Northern Territory and Western Australia discriminated against Aboriginal people, and urged the federal government to take appropriate measures, even if this meant overriding state and territory legislation. Once again, the government rejected the CERD conclusions. In an increasingly defensive posture on Aboriginal issues, John Howard argued that the UN should not interfere in domestic matters and launched a critique of the UN system itself. By the end of March 2000, the government was even considering reviewing how Australia participates in the UN treaty committee system.

29Another, more pervasive tension between Australia and the international community has revolved around the principle of self-determination. Abroad, Australia’s records have fared well; its programme of decolonisation of Papua-New Guinea found international endorsement, its dealings with the residents of Cocos and Keeling Islands were praised, and its intervention to protect the East Timorese right to self-determination was backed by the UN. At home however, things have proven wholly different. Aboriginal people have consistently demanded that their right to self-determination be recognised, according to the principles enshrined in such international documents as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the ILO 169, the Declaration of the International Human Rights Conference of Vienna and the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. According to the latter, self-determination implies that Aboriginal people have the right to participate in all law and policy making that may affect them, to use their own decision-making processes, to self-govern in relation to their own affairs, to determine priorities and strategies for their own development, and to own or control the use of land, waters and other resources. More contentiously, indigenous people’s right to self-determination could be extended to the free choice of their political status, although this point remains ambiguous in the Draft Declaration. Aboriginal leaders have argued that the possibility of secession should not be discarded, as Aboriginal people should have a right to freely decide whether they want to be part of the Australian nation. The Australian government, however, does not see it that way. Like many other national governments, it has strongly opposed the idea that indigenous self-determination might possibly imply the development of an independent state system. But unlike most other countries, Australia has not simply called for a better definition of the ‘self-determination’ clause in Article 3 of the Draft Declaration. Rather, the present Australian government has argued for the removal of the concept altogether. And in fact, although Australia has consistently supported the rights of people to self-determination in foreign dependent territories, the country has not ventured much beyond self-management in Aboriginal affairs.

30Being responsible for the growth of international instruments, there is no doubt that globalisation has promoted Aboriginal emancipation in many ways. However, global institutions cannot guarantee that rights will be recognised, observed and enforced, even when they are enshrined in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements. International agencies can influence, advise or encourage, but they in no way supersede national governments in domestic politics; states cannot be compelled to pursue specific policies, nor can they be forced to abandon the practices which apparently do not match international standards. Arguably, states may endeavour to please the international community; in the global area, Western countries have particularly cared about their image and standing in the world. However, they may also be inclined to overlook international principles if and when they conflict with the national interest, or national interests. In the Australian national context, for instance, Aboriginal land rights have been undermined to a great extent because the government has been willing to accommodate non-Aboriginal land interests, and in particular, the interests of global companies such as mining corporations or tourist operators. The claim that globalisation has promoted Aboriginal rights in an unparalleled way must therefore be mitigated; while international agencies have clearly advanced the indigenous rights agenda, the free market has had the opposite effect in many ways at state level.

  • 11  First Peoples Worldwide at the International Indigenous Peoples Summit on Sustainable Development, (...)

Economic globalisation constitutes one of the main obstacles for the recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Transnational corporations and industrialized countries impose their global agenda on the negotiations and agreements of the United Nations system, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and other bodies which reduce the rights enshrined in national constitutions and in international conventions and agreements11.

The Stakes of Australia’s Sovereignty

31The resistance of Australia to Aboriginal self-determination can surely be partly explained as a response to economic imperatives. Yet, it can perhaps be best understood as a political response to a new political challenge, which cannot be thought outside of globalisation. Global instruments have been central to the promotion of self-determination, enshrining it as core principle in many a case. Yet, while they are growing in influence, the self-determination principle which they defend has been largely undermined in Australia; the country, which had committed itself to Aboriginal self-determination in the 1980s, has gone back significantly on this principle during the last decade. Why Australia has run against the current is a complex question, which no doubt requires complex answers. However, this article would argue that the new political challenge which made Australia regress on several agendas is sovereignty — or rather, what is felt as being a progressive surrender of national sovereignty. Democratic regimes are based on the core principles that the people is sovereign, and that the states have political sovereignty by virtue of having been chosen and delegated authority by the citizens. Under globalisation, however, both people and states have feared that their sovereignty is being taken away. Many states have seen their political power increasingly transferred to the international community, while many people have resented being subject to laws and principles enacted by unelected foreign authorities. And indeed, old notions of nation-states and old conceptions of sovereignty as being deeply rooted in national identities have no place in the new global order:

  • 12  Fred W. Riggs, “Globalization, Ethnic Diversity and Nationalism: the Challenge for Democracies”, i (...)

The fictitious ideal of a national state needs to be replaced by acceptance of the reality of multi-national states, and the ‘sovereignty’ of states needs to be seen as a fiction that requires re-interpretation in a global order. No doubt states will survive but their functions will change. They need to accept superstructures based on confederalism and global organization in a vast network of autonomous systems dedicated to solving a host of complex and interdependent issues12.

32Globalisation is still a relatively recent phenomenon, however, and the progressive decline of both nation-states and national sovereignty has met much more resistance than acceptance so far. Many Australians share the idea that international agencies can only be legitimate instruments of sovereign power when they act where the sovereign state cannot define or uphold rights acting on its own initiative. International instruments are thus welcome providing that they act as regulators in such areas as global warming, global economic crises, international terrorism or international drug trafficking. On the contrary, the intervention of international agencies in domestic affairs is often seen as misplaced interference, and a growing proportion of the population argues that Australia should avoid entering into treaties when the Australian law already provides remedies. John Stone, for instance, considers that such treaties as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination are both harmful and ‘morally vain’; from his point of view, such agreements have subverted Australia’s sovereignty by acting within its jurisdictions, and yet Australia already had appropriate domestic instruments to decide and enforce the economic, social and cultural rights it wished to grant to its citizenry. He adds:

  • 13  John Stone, “Setting the Sovereignty Scene: Use and Abuse of the Treaty Power”, Proceedings of the (...)

There would not be one Australian in a thousand who would think it appropriate that the United Nations itself — let alone the miserable collection of international legal activists and other assorted misfits who make up the UN Committee on Human Rights — should intervene to lecture us on how we should approach the entirely domestic issues13.

  • 14  Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia and International Treaty Making: Information Ki (...)

33The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has consistently argued that entering into a multilateral treaty is essentially an exercise, and not a relinquishing, of sovereignty; their argument goes that “ratification of international treaties does not involve a handing over of sovereignty to an international body” because “the power to enter into such arrangements remains with Government”, which “retains the right to remove itself from treaty obligations if it judges that on balance the treaty no longer serves Australia’s national and international interests”14. And indeed, by denouncing several treaties which it had previously signed, Australia has indeed shown since 1996 that it places ‘national interest’ above the promotion of a global ideological framework. Yet, Australians have felt ill at ease with decisions made far beyond their national borders. Most Australians would probably support a moderate sacrifice of the nation’s freedom of action, if national interests, both immediate and long-term, were advanced in a clear, tangible way. However, including in the cases where Australia clearly gains from treaty-making, the argument runs deep that Australia’s sovereignty remains diminished while the country is bound by international treaties and obligations, to a greater or lesser extent, depending upon the scope of the agreements.

34As globalisation is expanding and international agreements are multiplying, nationalist movements have therefore grown in Australia which advocate a more conservative, ‘protectionist’ policy. The decline of nation-states has been felt as endangering Australia’s independence and political sovereignty, and more and more people argue that the government should be firmly committed to avoiding any further transfer of power to the international community. This defensive posture, of course, has had repercussions for Aboriginal people. Not only has Australia undermined Aboriginal people’s rights by withdrawing from some international agreements, but Aboriginal people’s demand that their sovereignty be recognised has been rejected more strongly than ever; clearly, Australia’s fear of losing its own sovereignty has made Aboriginal claims for domestic sovereignty a secondary issue, if not a political aberration. However, an interesting process is currently taking place at the community level, which could well result in a renewed commitment to Aboriginal sovereignty and Aboriginal self-determination in a few years’ time. Empathy, perhaps, is the best word to describe non-Aboriginal Australia’s developing attitude towards Aboriginal people. For indeed, many Australians are now involved on the international scale in a fight comparable to the one that Aboriginal people have long carried on on the national scale: a fight to survive as distinct peoples with distinct identities, a fight against any further erosion of their culture and way of life, a fight for authority over their land and for a degree of economic autonomy, and above all maybe, a fight for sovereignty and self-determination. Globalisation has thus given rise to an unexpected community of experiences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, and in doing so, it may have sown the seeds for further understanding and partnership.

35Globalisation has had multiple, complex and double-edged effects on Aboriginal people. From a socio-economic perspective, Aboriginal people have been substantially weighed down by globalisation. On the one hand, they have hardly experienced the great benefits for which Australian economists and politicians have praised the free market. On the other hand, global corporations have put a great strain on their lands and traditional subsistence economies, while the government has proceeded to large cuts in public funding and public services. Therefore, although growing Aboriginal unemployment, poverty and ill-health cannot be imputed solely to globalisation, they can not either be considered independently from global socio-economic trends. From a cultural perspective now, globalisation has no doubt accelerated the decline of Aboriginal cultures. On a national scale, the opening of frontiers and the increasing human mobility have arguably, although paradoxically, participated in the progressive giving up of multiculturalism, to the benefit of more assimilationist policies. No doubt, global communications have helped Aboriginal people resist national trends of assimilation by giving a whole new dimension to their political and cultural activism. However, the same global communications have been powerful instruments for propagating a global Western culture, at the expense of Aboriginal cultural identities. Globalisation has therefore resulted in powerful streams of transnational assimilation, imposing whole new challenges on already much weakened Aboriginal traditional cultures.

36From a politico-legal perspective finally, globalisation has undeniably empowered Aboriginal people. The emergence of international standards on indigenous rights, the multiplication of multilateral agreements on human rights and the growth of UN agencies have on the one hand sharply increased their power to exert pressure on the government, despite the fact that recent government decisions have resulted in the weakening of Aboriginal representative bodies. And on the other hand, they have deeply impacted on the way Australia’s legislative, executive and judiciary powers conceive of Aboriginal rights, although recent years have witnessed a growing popular resistance to both treaty-making and international accountability. Consequently, Aboriginal people have largely relied on legal procedures and judiciary decisions to advance their cause, against their continuing cultural assimilation and structural marginalisation. The executive, however, has been famous for acting counter-productively in the last decade; Aboriginal land rights have been restricted, Aboriginal self-determination has been played down and Aboriginal sovereignty has been disapproved of. Clearly, political conservatism has come with renewed forms of nationalism in the global area. In this context, wide-reaching hopes for change are slim. But ironically, the few hopes there are might well rest on the very growth of nationalist movements in the global age: whilst Australians fight against the global odds of assimilation, Aboriginal cultures will be valued as core elements of Australianness, and Aboriginal people’s wish to shape and control their future will increasingly find an echo within the Australian mainstream.

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Web Resources (accessed in September 2006)

AKANDE Wole, “The Drawbacks of Cultural Globalization”, Yellow Times, 10 November 2002, on the Global Policy Forum website, <>.

AUSTRALIAN DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, “Trade Liberalisation: How Australia Gains”, 1997, <>.

DOWNER Alexander, Australia Benefits From Globalisation, speech delivered by the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the Launch of the Monash Institute for the Study of Global Movements, 24 July 2003,


EASTON Brian, “Globalization and a Welfare State”, Proceeding from the conference Globalization, Employment & Quality of Life, Sydney, 29 November 1998, on the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research website, <>.

FOLEY Gary, “Power, Politics and the Internet”, Gary Foley’s Koori History Website, May 2000, <>.

GEORGE Jennie, “Opening Address to Globalisation Conference”, Proceeding from the conference Global Trap: Globalisation, the Asian Crisis and the Future of Australian Jobs Conference, 16 & 17 March 1998, <>.

KEMP Rod, “International Tribunals and the Attack on Australian Democracy”, Proceedings of the Fourth Conference of The Samuel Griffith Society, Brisbane, 29-31 July 1994, <>.

NAIM Moises, “An Indigenous World: How Native Peoples Can Turn Globalization to Their Advantage”, November/December 2003, on the Global Policy Forum website, <>.

REYNOLDS Henry, “Advance Australia Where?”, interview by CLARKE Barry for the ABC, Programme 4, Globally Speaking - The Politics of Globalisation, <>.

STONE John, “Setting the Sovereignty Scene: Use and Abuse of the Treaty Power”, Proceedings of the Twelfth Conference of The Samuel Griffith Society, Sydney, 10-12 November 2000, <>.

Books and Book Chapters

ASHCROFT Bill, Gareth GRIFFITHS & Helen TIFFIN (eds.), Key Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies, London; New York : Routledge, 1998.

HARDT Michael & Antonio NEGRI, Empire, Cambridge (Mass); London: Harvard University Press, 2000.

HORNE Donald, Looking for Leadership: Australia in the Howard Years, Ringwood (Vic.) : Penguin Books, 2001.

IVISON Duncan, Paul PATTON & Will SANDERS (eds.), Political Theory and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Cambridge; Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

JOHNSON Carol, Governing Change: from Keating to Howard, Brisbane: University of Queensland Press, 2000.

KITCHIN Rob, Cyberspace : the World in Wires, Chichester: Wiley, 1988.

LECLERC Gérard, La Mondialisation Culturelle : les Civilisations à l’épreuve, Paris : Presses Universitaires de France, 2000.

MARTIN Hans-Peter, The Global Trap: the Assault on Democracy and Prosperity, London : Pluto Press, 1997.

WELLS Pera, “Does Australia have a Human Rights Diplomacy?”, in GRATTAN Michelle (ed.), Essays on Reconciliation in Australia, Melbourne (Vic) : Black Inc Bookman Press, 2000.

RIGGS Fred W, “Globalization, Ethnic Diversity and Nationalism: the Challenge for Democracies”, in MUNCK Ronaldo & Barry K GILLS (eds.), Globalization and Democracy of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, May 2002, 35-47.

STILWELL Frank, Economic Inequality: Who gets What in Australia, Sydney: Pluto Press, 1993.

Official Publications

AUSTRALIAN DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE, Australia and International Treaty Making: Information Kit, Canberra, November 1999.

FIRST PEOPLES WORLDWIDE at the International Indigenous Peoples Summit on Sustainable Development, The Kimberley Declaration, Khoi-San Territory (Kimberley, South Africa), 20-23 August 2002.


SHUN WAH Annette, Laurence ABOU KHATER & Verity BURGMANN, “Unity in adversity?”, The Age, 23 September 2001.

SMITH Claire & Graeme K. WARD, “Globalisation, Decolonisation and Indigenous”, Australian Aboriginal Studies, n°1&2, 2000, 3-11.

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1 Alexander Downer, Australia Benefits From Globalisation, speech delivered by the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the Launch of the Monash Institute for the Study of Global Movements, 24 July 2003.

2  Frank Stilwell, Economic  Inequality: Who Gets What in Australia, Sydney : Pluto Press, 1993, 22.

3  Brian Easton, “Globalization and a Welfare State”, proceeding from the conference Globalization, Employment & Quality of Life, Sydney, 29 November 1998.

4  Jennie George, “Opening Address to Globalisation Conference”, proceeding from the conference Global Trap: Globalisation, the Asian Crisis and the Future of Australian Jobs Conference, 16 & 17 March 1998.

5  Pauline Hanson, “Australia, Wake Up!” (1996), in Donald Horne, Looking for Leadership: Australia in the Howard Years, Ringwood (Vic.): Penguin Books, 2001, 276-277.

6  Annette Shun Wah, Laurence Abou Khater & Verity Burgmann, “Unity in adversity?”, The Age, 23 September 2001.

7  Wole Akande, “The Drawbacks of Cultural Globalization”, Yellow Times, 10 November 2002.

8  Gary Foley, “Power, Politics and the Internet”, Gary Foley’s Koori History Website, May 2000.

9  Rob Kitchin, Cyberspace: the World in Wires, Chichester : Wiley, 1988, 3-4.

10  Section 51(xxix) of the Constitution states: “The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to ... (xxix) External affairs.”

11  First Peoples Worldwide at the International Indigenous Peoples Summit on Sustainable Development, The Kimberley Declaration, Khoi-San Territory (Kimberley, South Africa), 20-23 August 2002.

12  Fred W. Riggs, “Globalization, Ethnic Diversity and Nationalism: the Challenge for Democracies”, in Ronaldo Munck and Barry K. Gills (eds.), Globalization and Democracy of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, May 2002, 35-47.

13  John Stone, “Setting the Sovereignty Scene: Use and Abuse of the Treaty Power”, Proceedings of the Twelfth Conference of The Samuel Griffith Society, Sydney, 10-12 November 2000.

14  Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia and International Treaty Making: Information Kit, Canberra, November 1999, 8-9.

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Ludivine Royer, « Globalisation and the Australian Aborigines: gain or strain? », Revue LISA/LISA e-journal, Vol. V - n°1 | 2007, 141-164.

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Ludivine Royer, « Globalisation and the Australian Aborigines: gain or strain? », Revue LISA/LISA e-journal [En ligne], Vol. V - n°1 | 2007, mis en ligne le 21 octobre 2009, consulté le 01 octobre 2020. URL : ; DOI :

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Ludivine Royer

(Paris IV, France)
Ludivine Royer is a member of the ‘Western America and Asia-Pacific Studies’ research unit at the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne. In previous years, she studied at the Arts Faculty of Melbourne University, as well as in the Department of Ethnology and Social Anthropology at the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). She is currently working on a Doctoral thesis entitled Intégration et Acculturation des Aborigènes d’Australie à l’Ere de la Réconciliation : Mythes, Codes Sociaux et Politiques, and her work includes a minor thesis entitled Les Aborigènes de Tasmanie : Constructions identitaires, productions culturelles et revendications contemporaines.

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