Accepted paper:

Children, sexuality and corporeal appropriation in Kimberley Aboriginal settlements

Author:

Anthony Redmond (Australian National University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper addresses the appropriation of Aboriginal childhood and children in two senses: in the 'Aboriginal reality show' (Langton 2008) for the wider public imaginary and how children's sexualised, corporeal resources are actually appropriated and exchanged in these particular life-worlds.

Paper long abstract:

Throughout 2007 the widespread reports of the sexual abuse of children in the Kimberley Aboriginal settlements of Hall's Creek, Kalumburu and Fitzroy Crossing erupted as a major public issue when scores of men from these communities were arrested and charged with a range of sexual offenses. These arrests seemed to confirm a public and official alarm that such abuses were widespread across the Aboriginal communities of Australia, an alarm that instituted the dramatic major Federal government intervention in neighboring Northern Territory settlements. This paper, continuing on from my discussion paper of late 2007, addresses the appropriation of Aboriginal childhood and children in two senses. Firstly, it is helpful to contextualise the current child abuse furore issue in regard to what Marcia Langton (2008) has called the 'Aboriginal reality show' in the wider public imaginary. However, despite its long history, there is no sense in which coercive sexual appropriation is simply a product of the racial imaginary in Australia -it is undoubtedly a reality as well as a 'reality show'. The second part of this paper looks at how sexualized, corporeal resources are socially and individually appropriated and exchanged in these particular life-worlds.

panel P05
Appropriating childhood: the current state of play