1st Edition

Indigenist Critical Realism Human Rights and First Australians’ Wellbeing

By Gracelyn Smallwood Copyright 2015
    218 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Indigenist Critical Realism: Human Rights and First Australians’ Wellbeing consists of a defence of what is popularly known as the Human Rights Agenda in Indigenous Affairs in Australia. It begins with a consideration of the non-well-being of Indigenous Australians, then unfolding a personal narrative of the author Dr Gracelyn Smallwood's family. This narrative is designed not only to position the author in the book but also in its typicality to represent what has happened to so many Indigenous families in Australia.

    The book then moves to a critical engagement with dominant intellectual positions such as those advanced by commentators such as Noel Pearson, Peter Sutton, Gary Johns and Keith Windschuttle. The author argues that intellectuals such as these have to a great extent colonised what passes for common sense in mainstream Australia. This common sense straddles the domains of history, health and education and Dr Smallwood has chosen to follow her adversaries into all of these areas.

    This critique is anchored by a number of key philosophical concepts developed by the Critical Realist philosopher Roy Bhaskar. The book advances and analyses a number of case studies - some well-known, even notorious such as the Hindmarsh Island Affair (South Australia) and the Northern Territory Intervention; others like that of the author's late nephew Lyji Vaggs (Qld) and Aboriginal Elder May Dunne (Qld) much less so.

    Representing one of the first attempts to engage at a critical and intellectual level in this debate by an Indigenous activist, this book is essential reading for students and scholars interested in Critical Realism and colonialism.

    1. First Australians Well-being and the case for Human Rights  2. Methodology  3. Narrative and Testimony  4. The Tradition of all the dead Generations… the Tradition of all Indigenous Generations  5. Engaging Sutton and Pearson  6. The Education Wars  7. Human Rights and the Aboriginal People of Australia  8. Human Rights:  The Hindmarsh Island Affair, the Battle for a Bill of Rights and the Northern Territory Intervention  9. The frontier is dead.  Long live the frontier  10. Conclusion


    Dr Gracelyn Smallwood is an Associate Professor at  James Cook University, Queensland, Australia.

    Since 1968 Dr Gracelyn Smallwood continues to be an outspoken advocate for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Gracelyn was the first Indigenous Australian to receive a Masters of Science-Public Health (1986) and the first Indigenous PhD graduate from the Division of Tropical Health and Medicine (2011) at James Cook University. She is an Adjunct Professor at James Cook University, Queensland, Australia. Dr Smallwood holds a number of awards including: the NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Observance Committee) Person of the Year Award (2014) and appointed a member of the Queensland Mental Health and Drug Advisory Council; the James Cook University Outstanding Alumni Award (2014); the United Nations Association of Australia Queensland Community Award-Individual (2013) in recognition of her service to Public Health, in particular to HIV-AIDS, contribution to Australian Universities and consultation to the World Health Organisation; and she received the Deadly Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in Indigenous Health (2007) and was awarded an Order of Australia Medal [AM] in 1992 for her work in public health.