First Nations academic Bronwyn Carson explores Aboriginal identity politics

Feb 27, 2016, 03:26 PM

Bronwyn Carlson's parents frequently accused each other of being "touched by the tar brush", which underpinned her struggle with her Aboriginal identity as a child.

Her experience growing up with the understanding that she and her siblings "weren't white, but not Aboriginal either" inspired her recently published PhD, in which she explores the complexities of being an Aboriginal Australian.

"I see people from uni who say, 'I'm Aboriginal but I know I don't look it'," Ms Carlson, Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies at the University of Wollongong, said.

"I still hear comments like, 'I'm one-eighth, I'm one-quarter, half caste', and all these colonial terms, so those kind of things haven't gone away.

"Aboriginal people have a lot to face from non-Aboriginal Australia, let alone from our own communities."

Ms Carlson said Aboriginality was still a contested and complicated issue that had been fiercely politicised, with Aboriginal people still facing issues about "who gets to count" as Aboriginal.

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