The Indigenous Franchise and Assimilation
(2017) 48 Australian Historical Studies 363
28 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2019
Date Written: 2017
This article explores the connections between Indigenous enfranchisement and assimilation in Australia. Focusing on testimony given by Indigenous people to the 1961 Select Committee on Voting Rights for Aborigines, and assessing the political and discursive overlaps between enfranchisement and assimilation at this time, the article argues that enfranchisement could both demand and produce forms of social and cultural change that involved Indigenous people becoming more like settler Australians. Indigenous witnesses recognised and often welcomed the acculturation presaged by enfranchisement. But this embrace was not unanimous or unqualified, especially in evidence given by and on behalf of Indigenous people whose lives were partly or wholly beyond the reach of settler institutions.
Keywords: enfranchisement, voting rights, Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
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