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race Arrow vol 3 no 2 contents
About borderlands Volume 3 Number 2, 2004


‘We don’t talk about race anymore’: Power, privilege
and critical whiteness studies

Damien W. Riggs
The University of Adelaide

I begin by acknowledging the sovereignty of the Kaurna people, upon whose land I live in Adelaide, South Australia, and upon whose land the Borderlands e-journal has been developed and published. As will be elaborated throughout this editorial, Indigenous sovereignty is thus the ground upon which we stand, and the context within which we as non-indigenous people attempt to engage with critiques of whiteness. As a result, this editorial represents an elaboration of these points, and does so by connecting the impetus behind this special issue of borderlands e-journal on the topic ‘why whiteness studies?’ with the broader context of whiteness studies and white culture more generally. I do this by briefly examining some of the conjunctures that inform critical studies of race and whiteness, and connect this to a questioning of whose terms define and guide research in these areas. I then go on to outline how these questions are elaborated in the collection of papers provided in this issue, and I propose that together they represent a number of important interventions into racialised practices, both within Australia and internationally.

1. The quote in the title of this editorial comes from a discussion that I had with a colleague in early 2001. She had recently completed a degree in social work, and in her final year had enrolled in a number of subjects that focused on critical approaches to social relations, with particular attention paid to the ‘social construction of race’. During the discussion I mentioned that my honours thesis applied the work of researchers in the area of critical whiteness studies to understand how white psychologists talk about race in Australia (Riggs & Selby, 2003). Following a discussion of my thesis topic, my colleague suggested that perhaps my work was somewhat misguided - she had taken the idea from her studies that ‘we don’t talk about race anymore’ – that the deconstruction of practices of racialisation meant that race no longer mattered, and that it thus no longer ought to be a focus of research. This was in spite (or perhaps indeed a result) of the fact that both my colleague and myself benefit from considerable white race privilege, and that our conversation was therefore structured by the normative assumptions that shape whiteness, and in particular, the notion that (in a ‘liberal democratic society’) race no longer mediates social relations. This example demonstrates the power that white people hold to define what will count as valid social research, and thus the ways in which this effectively dismisses the opinions and beliefs of those people who do not share this particular worldview.

2. This complex relationship between race and whiteness similarly came up in a discussion that occurred during a session of the Placing Race and Localising Whiteness conference, held in Adelaide, South Australia, in late 2003. One of the participants in the session, who had come to the conference from outside Australia, raised the question of what exactly critical whiteness studies was. As someone who identified as ‘non-white’, she had felt that the subject area was intended to be of concern only to white people, and she questioned how it related to ‘non-white’ people, and indeed how it connected to critical analyses of race. She questioned the utility of the term ‘critical whiteness studies’, and wondered how it could do anything but recentre white people and our experiences, a social fact that already typifies dominant approaches to research. The outcome of this session was a recognition that whiteness studies must continue to be answerable to the ongoing histories of racialisation, and the ways in which ‘white’ is a raced subject position, regardless of whether it is recognised as such by white people. This generated a number of key questions relating to the study of whiteness, and the institutionalisation of whiteness studies more broadly. Specifically, these questions point towards the need to examine how whiteness is understood through the lens of race, and the utility of this for challenging racialised hierarchies.

3. These questions of intersectionality and conjuncture in regards to race and whiteness have informed the recent establishment of the Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association, a collective of academics, activists and researchers seeking to a) "respect the existence of and continuing rights deriving from Indigenous sovereignties in Australia and elsewhere", b) "critically investigate the construction and maintenance of race and whiteness both past and present" and c) "expose and challenge white race privilege in Australia and elsewhere" ( 2004). Such research is explicitly informed by the context (in Australia) of Indigenous sovereignties and a recognition of the impact that colonisation continues to have upon the lives of all people in Australia, whether it be through disadvantaging Indigenous people or accruing unearned privilege to non-indigenous people. As a result, the study of whiteness in this framework is intimately related to an examination of race and race privilege – the context of Indigenous sovereignty draws attention to the raced status of non-indigenous people, and thus turns the gaze "from the racial object to the racial subject; from the described and imagined to the describers and imaginers; from the serving to the served" (Morrison 1992, 90). Whiteness is seen as a thoroughly racialised project that aims to legitimate the authority of certain groups over others by drawing on the legacy of ‘biological’ explanations of race. Such explanations have a far-reaching trajectory in the ongoing histories of colonisation, and the study of whiteness in colonial nations (and within a context of Indigenous sovereignty) thus represents one mode for critiquing white hegemony. Whilst this approach starts from an understanding of race as a social construction, it also acknowledges the very concrete ways in which race shapes experiences of oppression and privilege.

4. Such critiques of white hegemony have thus elaborated an important challenge to some of the ways in which the subject area of critical whiteness studies has been responded to within the media and in the public more generally. These responses have typically either derided whiteness studies as yet more academic ‘navel gazing’, or alternately seen it as a threat to the white majority (see for example the Weekend Australian article 'Middle class blanches at white studies growth', 28/06/03). Whilst both of these responses may be true in part (as they may be of any academic discipline or subject area), they would both appear to miss (in part) the aims of critical whiteness studies, as they may broadly be understood. The essays in this collection suggest instead that critical whiteness studies may call attention to the very practices of the academy itself. Whilst this may seem to be a rather grand claim, my intention in suggesting this is not to position critical whiteness studies as being the answer to ‘solving’ racialised oppression, nor to suggest that it is inherently more ‘critical’ than any other subject area that analyses race (see the article by Ahmed in this issue for more on this point). My point is that in starting from a recognition of the tension between Indigenous sovereignties, on one hand, and the invasive discursive practices though which white people have come to "know" Aboriginal Australia, on the other, critical whiteness studies may be placed to critically examine its own assumptions.

5. As I will elaborate throughout this editorial, the subject of critical whiteness studies (i.e. whiteness) may thus be understood to be far more nebulous than it may at first appear. In other words, whilst terms such as ‘whiteness’ and ‘white culture’ may appear to suggest that the construct ‘white’ is only ever one and the same thing, it is important to recognise that ‘whiteness’ achieves its semblance of normality and universality precisely because of its ability to absorb difference, or to adapt itself so as to appear to always be the same (for more on this see the essay by Haggis which provides a critique of notions of ‘hybridity’, and similarly see the essay by Moran, which utilises the concept of ‘whitenesses’ to elaborate the many forms that whiteness takes). As a result, critical studies of race and whiteness require a range of approaches to both epistemology and ontology in order to prevent the subject areas from solidifying into a homogenous, institutionalised subject area, an outcome that would thus only serve to reinforce the hegemony of whiteness. This is particularly true in relation to the academy in general, and the attendant risk that ‘critical whiteness studies’ may only serve to be yet another means through which white people can achieve success (Fine, Weis, Powell and Mun Wong, 1997). The question ‘why whiteness studies?’ thus asks much more than what is the impetus to study whiteness. It also questions ‘who for?’ and ‘to what end?’ Why do we need whiteness studies, and what are some of the social contexts that have brought it about? Moreover, and as I have already suggested, these questions thus challenge white academics to examine the politics and problems of researching whiteness. With this in mind, I now turn to examine more closely the critiques of whiteness, imperial expansion and practices of exclusion that are the foci of this issue.

Critical Whiteness Studies as Pedagogical Intervention

6. The first selection of essays in this issue have as their focus an examination of the potential that critical whiteness studies holds for intervening in the hegemony of whiteness through education. Loosely grouped around questions of pedagogy, these four essays examine in detail some of the critical challenges that whiteness studies raises for the white subject, both student and educator. They also look at how whiteness studies need to go beyond the academy in order to explore radical approaches to social justice. Together, the four essays provide a key starting place for outlining in detail a response to the question ‘why whiteness studies?’, and indeed they do so by refusing a simplistic answer, and instead examine, in various ways, the very concept of ‘whiteness studies’ itself – how has it been taken up, what are its limitations, and who does it speak to and for?

7. The lead article in this group, by Fiona Nicoll, proposes that teaching through a lens of critical whiteness studies may help to engender recognition of the fact of Indigenous sovereignty. Nicoll suggests that when teaching a subject on 'Gender, Race and Australian Identities' she "began the semester by proposing that everyone had a relationship with Indigenous Australians regardless of whether they had individually met an Aboriginal person or not" (24). In doing so she introduced an important concept, namely, that all non-indigenous people stand to benefit from colonisation, and that as subjects standing within Indigenous sovereignties, we as non-indigenous Australians all benefit from forms of privilege based on racialised hierarchies. Thus in answer to the challenge from a student; ‘are you calling me a racist?’, Nicoll is able to elaborate how all non-indigenous people are implicated in practices of oppression, and that the task is to develop ways of exploring this complicity, rather than denying our location within it.

8. Similarly, Nado Aveling takes up the challenge provided by Yamato (1990, 423); to work on racism for our own sake (as white people), rather than for the sake of the racialised other. This echoes Lilla Watson’s (1992) statement as an Indigenous educator in the context of Australia, that: 'If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, let’s work together.' In this regard, Aveling suggests that pedagogies that draw on critical whiteness studies may hold the potential for enabling students to "develop a socio-cultural consciousness" (40), something which she suggests is central to challenging racialised practices.

9. Jane Haggis writes the third essay in this group, which questions the logic of ‘race abolitionism’ that often inheres to critical studies of race and whiteness. Drawing out a number of important points that are made throughout all of the essays in this issue, Haggis suggests that "although of course, in anti-racist discourse we talk of 'structural racism' and 'institutional racism', nevertheless, I contend, we (the social analyst) still construct in the anti-racist position, a moral space of no more or less complicity" (3). This mirrors Nicoll’s point, in that critical whiteness studies should not be about ascertaining who is and who is not racist in a society that privileges racialised understandings of subjectivity. Instead, it is important to look at how racism is perpetuated under the guise of ‘good intentions’ (cf., Moreton-Robinson 2001; Nicoll, 2000; Riggs, 2004). Haggis thus suggests that an ‘Australian critical whiteness studies’ should not be about making non-indigenous people ‘comfortable’, but should instead continue to destabilise the assumptions of privilege that inform non-indigenous belonging.

10. The final essay by Karen Brodkin suggests that the study of whiteness should be but one part of a much larger project of dismantling all forms of privilege and oppression. Writing in the context of the US, Brodkin suggests that the study of whiteness carries with it some of the baggage that inhered to the early formation of women’s studies, the assumption being that ‘anyone’ can teach these subjects without necessarily having a thorough understanding of the historical contingencies that shape the subject areas. Brodkin draws attention to exactly who is doing research and activism on race and whiteness, and how outcomes are being achieved. She proposes that "scholarship on whiteness needs to situate itself fully in the wider anti-racist project, and to analyze both the specific ways that whiteness deforms multiracial resistance, and the contradictions within whiteness that animate whites to support and join these movements" (12).

11. As a whole, these four papers represent a timely intervention into the politics of critical whiteness pedagogies, and demonstrate the diverse range of approaches to studying and teaching about race within the academy and beyond. In relation to the suggestion that I made in the introduction to this editorial in regards to approaches to studying whiteness, all four writers question any logic that would seek to institutionalise whiteness studies as a homogenous field of inquiry, and instead demonstrate that critical studies of race and whiteness should continue to resist normative definitions, and continually challenge the privileges that inhere to the subject area itself. Recognising the contingent histories that shape academic research is but one step towards this goal. As the essays in the next section elaborate, this requires researchers and activists to be mindful of the theoretical and historical legacies upon which we draw in our work.

Ongoing histories of white violence: Ownership, praxis and belonging

12. One of the important legacies that research in the area of critical race and whiteness studies draws upon is the notion of reflexivity. This term may be used to describe both an author’s engagement with their own location and histories, as well as the potential for using particular theoretical approaches to ‘do the work’ of highlighting certain social facts. In this way, reflexivity may be key to understanding colonial practices and to elaborating modes of resistance. Yet it also begs the question; whose account is privileged, and what does reflexivity actually reflect? In her work on white belonging, Fiona Probyn (2002) suggests that there is always the risk that assumptions of reflexivity draw upon notions of moral good that continue to enact forms of ‘epistemic violence’ (as she borrows the term from Spivak). Such violence may be evident in research that perpetuates the notion that white accounts of history are the most accurate (e.g., Keith Windshuttle’s recent text The Fabrication of Aboriginal History ), or research that implicitly prioritises white understandings of the world. The papers in this section thus seek to challenge the value accorded to white ways of knowing, and to instead begin the work of responding to the critiques of whiteness made by Indigenous and other people racialised as not white. In this way, the four essays in this section elaborate some of the issues of ownership, belonging and praxis that feature in Australian writing on race and whiteness.

13. In the first paper, Aileen Moreton-Robinson examines what she terms the ‘possessive logic of patriarchal white sovereignty’, particularly as it appears in the High Court’s Yorta Yorta native title decision. Moreton-Robinson suggests that this logic both "discriminates in favour of itself, ensuring it protects and maintains its sovereign interest by the continuing denial and exclusion of Indigenous sovereignty", whilst at the same time "not address[ing] how the Crown’s acquisition of sovereignty provided Indigenous people with common law rights as British subjects". These outcomes are achieved by routinely dismissing the fact that as "the human manifestation of the land and creator beings, [Indigenous people] carry title to the land through and on their bodies", and instead accord primary epistemic and ontic authority to white interpretations and values. Moreton-Robinson suggests that such interpretations thus serve to warrant non-indigenous belonging, and to rationalise the legal dismissal of Indigenous sovereignties. Moreton-Robinson’s work thus provides a theoretical framework though which to understand what she terms ‘the possessive logic of patriarchal white sovereignty’.

14. Similarly, in her account of white histories, Jan Larbalestier suggests "Western knowledge claims went hand in hand with processes of imperialism, conquest and colonialism. Consequently western knowledge claims are embedded in relations of domination" (7). As a result, Larbalestier suggests that white accounts must be read for their attempts at justifying unequal social relations, for example in the claim that "Australia became a settler colony, is a settler colony, because the colonists proclaimed it to be so… It is comforting for many people to assume that it is possible to colonise a country peacefully or even relatively peacefully, to simply settle in" (24). White accounts may therefore more reflexively be understood as invested - as structured to legitimate, rather than to ‘report the truth’. The truth is thus revealed to be a contested category to which no particular subject area (in Larbelestier’s example, anthropology) holds authority.

15. Rachel Standfield takes up this point in her account of what she terms ‘benign whiteness’ – the assumption that the ‘truth’ of colonisation is reflected in the Windschuttlesque thesis of the ‘civilising mission’. This notion of ‘civilising’ is thus used to warrant white invasion as a ‘natural outcome’ – that the influx of colonisers to Australia was inevitable. One of the key rhetorical tools that Standfield outlines in this regard is the reduction of colonial history to a "simple narrative of ‘waves of immigration’" (28). Such an account effectively dismisses the sovereignty of Indigenous people and instead places all Australians on par, whilst at the same time granting authority to white interpretations of constructs such as ‘multiculturalism’. Such interpretations thus effectively collapse cultural difference into sameness, by promoting a homogenous representation of the ‘Australian nation’ (see also the essay by Haggis on this point).

16. This point is also taken up by Simeon Moran in the final paper of this group. Moran suggests that "whilst white Australian society comes to terms with an increasingly heterogeneous social reality, resistance to these global processes often manifests in an attachment to an imagined white homogenous nation. This racialised fantasy privileges an idealised whiteness and often configures diversity as national fragmentation" (9). In this way, multiculturalism functions either as a trope of sameness, or as an explanation for social problems. In either account, whiteness continues to be recentred as the ‘natural form’ that social relations take, thus discounting the effects of white privilege. Moran thus suggests that whiteness continues to inform unconscious affect – that its seeming ‘everydayness’ actually belies its structural and subjective loci. Thus as he states, "we are all implicated in, and socially positioned through the mundane, ordinary activities of our daily lives, through the choices we make, and the knowing/unknowing preferences and dispositions we hold" (25). He proposes that it is therefore important to reflexively examine how the mundane continues to evidence the normative assumptions of race and whiteness.

17. Together, these four essays draw attention to the reflexive ways in which critical research on race and whiteness may continue to elaborate the contingencies of white privilege. Thus rather than perpetuating the notion that white knowledges can adequately account for a vast array of experiences, these four essays question what Moreton-Robinson terms the ‘possessive logic of patriarchal white sovereignty’, by focusing on the contextual factors that create the illusion of white truth. As the final selection of papers demonstrates, this has very real implications for anti-racist practices, and for the analysis of power more broadly.

Power, privilege and the politics of ‘anti-racism’

18. The final four essays of this issue elaborate some of the questions of power and privilege that inhere to critical whiteness studies. In doing so they draw attention to some of the assumptions that would appear to inform the move towards ‘criticality’, and the attendant problems that this presents for examining racialised practices. Written by academics from both within Australia and abroad, these essays thus draw attention to the various forms that whiteness takes, according to its location within particular contexts, but the essays also demonstrate some of the similarities that exist when attempting to challenge whiteness, regardless of location. These essays are thus a timely reminder of the limits of critical whiteness studies, and they serve to illustrate some of the key issues that we must keep in mind when engaging in research in this area.

19. The first essay, by Sara Ahmed, questions some of the foundational assumptions that inform whiteness studies, namely the role that is accorded to ‘revealing’ whiteness, and the corollary assumption that naming racism or identifying one’s own race privilege is sufficient to warrant the term ‘critical’. Thus as Ahmed suggests, "if disciplines are in a way already about whiteness, showing the face of the white subject, then it follows that whiteness studies sustains the direction or orientation of this gaze, whilst removing the ‘detour’ provided by the reflection of the other" (5). Ahmed here points towards some of the risks that inhere to whiteness studies, if it only serves to recentre the experiences and values of white people (as I suggested in the introduction was the point made by the speaker at the Placing Race conference). Ahmed further elaborates this by suggesting that claims to ‘naming whiteness’ in actuality do very little to challenge it – the claim that ‘naming race’ performs a useful function may instead be seen as yet another means through which white privilege is explained away. Ahmed’s challenge is thus that researchers in the area of critical whiteness studies need to make "a double turn: to stay implicated in what they critique, but in turning towards their role and responsibility in these histories of racism, as histories of this present, to turn away from themselves, and towards others" (60).

20. In the second essay in this group, Robyn Westcott elaborates on Ahmed’s points about ‘naming whiteness’, as she questions the authority that is accorded to white people who ‘speak out’ about race privilege. Westcott suggests that such a ‘white confessional’ approach to research may only serve to accord further privilege to white people, and to offer a form of ‘redemption’ in the face of Indigenous sovereignty. To counter this, Westcott proposes moving into the autobiographic mode: "to write one’s story, to enact the autobiographic, is to let go of the finality and legitimation offered through the technique of confession" (37). Westcott thus suggests that such an approach may be a more transparent method for engaging in the study of whiteness as white people, a method that in many ways responds to Ahmed’s call for a ‘double turn’.

21. Fiona Probyn elaborates these issues of ‘giving and taking up power’ in the third paper of this selection. Probyn examines how complicity is evident in white attempts at ‘giving up power’, and how such complicity may only serve to turn attention (yet again) away from white people, through the appropriation of the position of the other within whiteness studies. Probyn thus suggests that claims to ‘giving up power’ only make sense in relation to having the ability to choose to do so – they only reassert white dominance, and thus do little to engage in a response to Indigenous sovereignty, or to recognise the incommensurabilities that shape Indigenous and non-indigenous experience. Probyn concludes by suggesting that what is required is an understanding of power that sees it not as a possession, to be taken or given up, but rather as a product of social relations, and their location within particular historical frameworks.

22. The final essay of this issue takes the form of an interview between Mike Hill and myself. Taking the essays of this issue as a starting point, I put forward a number of questions that reflect the concerns and interests of the contributors to this issue. Hill engages with these questions by elaborating how they fit within his own approach to analysing race and whiteness, particularly as they appear in the context of the US, where he is located. Our ‘conversation’ thus focuses on the pitfalls and potentials of critical whiteness studies, its relationship to social action, notions of ‘race abolitionism’ and ‘the white confessional’, Indigenous sovereignties, and the connections and differences between racialised practices internationally. Hill talks around and through these questions both in relation to his own work and to the broader movement of cultural studies. He concludes by outlining what he sees as the possibility for hope in the midst of racialised violence and oppression.

23. As a whole, these final four essays point towards some of the dilemmas that structure critical whiteness studies, and the power that inheres to it, regardless of whether we as non-indigenous people seek to ‘give it up’ or not. These essays also reinforce the importance of thinking through the ways our work articulates with Indigenous intellectual and political agendas by taking on board and engaging with the theories of power and subjectivity that are outlined by Indigenous people (e.g., Moreton Robinson 2000). Thus rather than turning the gaze back on whiteness, by white people, these four essays demonstrate the importance of engaging with the complexities of privilege that shape white hegemony, and to explore ways of researching that resist confessional modes of being. In this way, critical studies of race and whiteness may do more than simply naming or examining whiteness, and may instead enact academic styles that actively engage with the academy itself, and its particular privileged forms.


24. As I suggested in the introduction, critical analyses of race and whiteness need to continue to pay attention to the conjunctures and intersections that shape the subject area. As I have sought to demonstrate throughout this editorial, and as the essays in this issue elaborate more thoroughly, the question ‘why whiteness studies?’ engenders an approach to research that, when situated within the context of Indigenous sovereignty, may allow for a more reflexive, situated approach to understanding racialised practices. One answer to the question posed in this issue, and one that in part responds to the statement in the title of this editorial, is that we need to engage in critical studies of whiteness in order to better understand the machinations of how race is talked about, researched and engaged with, and how this continues to inform practices of privilege and oppression. So the simple answer is that ‘yes’, we do need to keep talking about race.

25. Yet, at the same time, it is important to recognise that in talking about race we run the risk of reifying race as a ‘real entity’, or fetishising whiteness as a pure or homogenous form. Again, I think the important point that this issue makes is that if we are to take as our starting point the critiques of whiteness provided by those who are marginalised by it, then we may be more able to engage with analyses of race and whiteness that refuse to reify or fetishise. Thus the two questions that this draws out is ‘on whose terms do we study whiteness?’, and ‘whose agenda is being privileged?’ Whilst the essays in this issue start from a wide range of perspectives, and are written by people from a diverse range of backgrounds, they most often take as their starting point the need to engage with privilege on a personal level but to also challenge privilege as the place from which white people collectively speak (as per Ahmed’s ‘double movement’. See also the essay by Haggis).

26. I have also suggested that the essays in this issue reflect a desire to engage in social action – certainly in the context of Australia, to engage in ‘treaty work’ and the recognition of Indigenous sovereignties. Thus as Haggis suggests in her essay,

In Australian terms, this means a Treaty that constrains the freedom to roam of the white subject and negotiates across incommensurability to build not identity or one-ness but a respectful engagement. For the ‘traitorous’ sociologist of race and whiteness, I think this is the task - to start the hard grind of treaty work - building into our practice an awareness of the doubleness of complicity and contestation, revising our universals to reveal their limits, acknowledging the partial situatedness of our knowledge making and its products, and refusing the seductions of slipping into indigeneity to avoid the discomforts of being within whiteness (29).

27. Haggis thus points towards the importance of theorising subjectivity, agency and power within our work on race and whiteness. This suggests that what is required is not simply an explanation of what whiteness is, or what it ‘looks like’, but rather that we need to focus on how whiteness is practiced and to what ends. How do we as white subjects access privilege, and how is this privilege refuted through the ways in which Indigenous people "carry title to the land through and on their bodies" (Moreton Robinson)? The question ‘why whiteness studies?’ thus holds within it a call to examine all of its parts: ‘why whiteness?’ (why does it exist and who does it benefit?), ‘why study it?’ (whose ends does it serve and whose voice does it privilege?), and thus ‘how can we challenge and explore it without reinforcing it?’ Obviously this issue represents only a partial answer to these questions, but it serves to demonstrate the point that whilst it would be ideal to see the end of whiteness studies, or to no longer ‘think’ in terms of race, these constructs still continue to exert considerable hold in all aspects of our lives, and thus warrant further attention.


Damien W. Riggs is a PhD candidate in the department of psychology at the University of Adelaide. His research is concerned with the social construction of whiteness in Australia, and he also has research interests in the areas of lesbian and gay psychology and critical health psychology. He has published on whiteness and lesbian and gay psychology in peer-reviewed journals, and is the co-editor (with Gordon Walker) of the text Out in the Antipodes: Australian and New Zealand Perspectives on Gay and Lesbian Issues in Psychology (2004, Brightfire Press). He is currently working on a book entitled Lesbian and Gay Parents: Critical Differences, which elaborates strategies for prioritising queer modes of relationality, and is working with Lorraine Johnson-Riordan on a special issue of the International Journal of Critical Psychology on the topic ‘white terror/post-empire’. Email:


I would like to thank all of the contributors to this issue for dedicating their time and efforts to writing the insightful and important essays that appear here. The authors represented here reflect some of the key researchers on race and whiteness in Australia, and it is a privilege to have been able to coordinate this issue. Thanks also go to Anthony Burke, Borderlands' editor, for supporting this initiative, to Fi Nicoll, for reading this editorial and offering critical comments, and to Martha Augoustinos for her guidance, advice and willingness to work through these issues. Many thanks to all at the Whiteness Research Group, Adelaide, for providing a supportive environment in which to research and understand whiteness, and to the Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association, for providing a framework within which to examine race and whiteness in Australia. I would encourage anyone who is interested to learn more to visit Finally, thanks go as always to Greg, for support and proof reading, and to our foster child Gary, for always providing a light at the end of the tunnel.


Fine, M., Weir, L., Powell L.C. and Mun Wong, L. (eds.) (1997) Off White: Readings on Race, Power and Society. New York: Routledge.

Moreton-Robinson, A. (2000) Talkin up to the white woman. St. Lucia: UQP.

Moreton-Robinson, A. (2001) ‘Treaty Talk: Past, Present and Future’, Melbourne Historical Journal 29, pp. 7-14.

Morrison, T. (1992) Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. London: Picador.

Nicoll, F. (2000) ‘Indigenous Sovereignty and the Violence of Perspective: A White Woman’s Coming Out Story,’ Australian Feminist Studies 15: 33, pp. 369-386.

Probyn, F. (2002) ‘How does the settler belong?’, Westerly 47, pp. 75-95.

Riggs, D.W. (2004) ‘Benevolence and the management of stake: On being ‘good white people’’, Philament: Online Journal of the Arts and Culture 4, available at:

Riggs, D.W. and Selby, J.M. (2003) ‘Setting the seen: Whiteness as unmarked category in psychologists’ writings on race in Australia’, in M. Katsikitis (ed) Proceedings of the 38th APS Annual Conference. APS: Melbourne.

Watson, L. (1992) ‘Untitled’, Health for Women 3, p. 1.

Yamato, G. (1990) ‘Something about the subject makes it hard to name’, in G. Anzaldua (ed) Making Face, Making Soul. San Francisco: Aunt lute foundation.

© borderlands ejournal 2004



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