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European Cultural Hegemony and Australian Aboriginals

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 08:23 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 32.2 
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The relationship between the indigenous people of Australia and their native lands are essential to their traditional culture. The colonization of their nations by Europeans has lead to a destruction of this relationship and therefore of indigenous cultural practices and norms. This process was predicated upon European cultural norms and established a cultural hegemony of European culture over indigenous culture. The effects of this cultural hegemony by mainstream Australia can be observed through a series of social indicators. Therefore these social indicators can be used to demonstrate the nature of cultural hegemony on the indigenous peoples of Australia.

Cultural hegemony is a concept designed by the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci (Ganguly-Scrase, 2003:55). Gramsci argued that a dominate group, could not retain power by threat of physical coercion alone, but also needed to retain control of the superstructure, i.e. of Ideology and belief systems (Gramsci, 1988: 193-4). The European invasion and subsequent colonization of the Aboriginal nations maintains itself not only through the ‘legitimate’ violence of the state apparatus but in addition through cultural hegemony.

The notion of Terra Nullius which the European colonists used to justify their invasion of the aboriginal nations was based on a western philosophical idea’s of property and ownership. John Locke’s argument that property arose out of mixing labour with nature, coupled with the biblical impulse to “go forth and till the land” justified the colonization of Australia (Yarwood, Knowling, 1982: 15). The Aboriginal’s semi-nomadic lifestyle, which left nature unscarred with symbols of ‘civilisation’ in a western sense did not satisfy the European notion of ownership, leaving the land open for occupation by whoever claimed it.  

For the Aboriginals their relationship with the land was not one of ownership as it was for the Europeans. More then just a means...


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