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SS1010: Australian People: Indigeneity & Multiculturalism: Including theory and concepts


Line drawing of Albert Einstein's faceNow your essay is starting to take shape, we have our topic, and we have found passages and information in the autobiography and other articles on offshore detention and the Kyriarchal System that inform our argument. Now we need the final piece of the puzzle: theory. Scary? Not really, theory just helps to explain why things are the way they are.

Including Theory and Concepts

Below is an article by Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, a feminist scholar who developed the term ‘Kyriarchy’ whilst studying liberation theology, and some responses by her colleagues. Here is an example of her work:

“The economic and ecological impact of globalisation and its attendant exploitation and misery have engendered the resurgence of the religious Right and of global cultural… fundamentalisms” (p.114)

Or another example:

“Right-wing, well-financed think tanks are supported by reactionary political and financial institutions that seek to defend Kyriarchal capitalism.” (P. 114)

Fiorenza, E. S., Hunt, M. E., Welch, S. D., & Aquino, M. P. (2005). Feminist studies in religion and theology in-between nationalism and globalization/response/response/response/response/response/response. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 21(1), 111.

Also Carolyn Nordstroms chapter titled “Faultlines” in the book “Global Health in Times of Violence” might be helpful in understanding the interconected diynamics of war and institutionalised inequality that spans the world’s political, ethical, and economic relations. 

“In the case of war and institutionalized inequality, faultlines do not reside within landmasses, but in certain political, economic, and ethical relations that span the worlds countries. Faultlines are flows often unrecorded—of goods, services, monies, and people that precipitate unstable inequalities, uneven access to power, and enevenly distributed resources” (p.163-164)

Nordstrom, C. (2009). Fault lines. In B. Rylko-Bauer, L. M. Whiteford, & P. Farmer (Eds.). (2009). Global health in times of violence. Santa Fe, NM: School for Advanced Research Press.

One of the most helpful theory-based articles that I found was Cultural Violence by Johan Galtung (1990). Galtung coined the term ‘structural violence’ in 1969. In this paper the author describes the connections between direct violence, structural violence, and cultural violence: three prominent themes in modern repressive state systems.

Galtung, J. (1990). Cultural violence. Journal of Peace Research, 27(3), 291-305. doi:10.1177/0022343390027003005

Now, let’s take this a few steps further, I found that Galtung’s (1990) thoughts on violence might be relevant to my essay, so I had a read and found this interesting passage:

“A violent structure leaves marks not only on the human body but also on the mind and the spirit” (Galtung, 1990, p. 294).

Ok, great, we have found a reliable theory that suggests that structual violence damages the human being at all levels including physically, phsycologicaly, and right down to their very essence.  Now we need to apply it to a passage from the book (No Friend but the Mountain, 2018). Here’s one I found that fits quite well:

“For weeks these rules and regulations seem not to change, but when the prisoners get used to them new rules and regulations suddenly emerge. More distortions within an incomprehensible system; a system that engulfs  one’s consciousness deep inside it. The system fragments and distorts the prisoner to such an extent that he is alienated from his sense of self” (Boochani, 2018, p. 220).

Next we can situate these dynamics within the broarder Australian political context. Here is a passage from the Welch (2014) article that we disscussed in the research section above:

“Unsurprisingly, given the purchase of “crimmigration” in thinking about and reacting to ethnic, racial, and religious minorities entering Western societies without authorization, asylum seekers are commonly portrayed as dishonest—and suspicious—migrants in search of economic opportunities, rather than as bona fide refugees in need of protection.” (Welch, 2014, p. 82).


Now we need to bring these ideas together (synthesis) using paraphrasing and the thoughtful use of quotes, here is an example of how that might look:

Boochani (2018) describes the Australian offshore prison complex as malformed and incomprehensible, where rules and regulations are subject to sudden and inscrutable change. These rules and regulations are determined far away, in Canberra, in response to the deliberate portrayal of asylum seekers as dishonest and suspicious economic migrants seeking to take advantage of Australian society, “rather than as bona fide refugees in need of protection” (Welch, 2014, p. 82). This long-distance implementation of violent structures have the effect of inflicting damage “not only on the human body but also on the mind and the spirit” (Galtung, 1990, p.294).

What’ – this paragraph is pointing out that Boochani is at the bottom of a complex power structure (Australian Kyriarchal system) and the lack of personal power he experiences is damaging on many levels.

‘Why’ – this paragraph demonstrates how Australian society perpetuates structural and direct violence on the Manus Island detainees.

‘So What’ – draws our attention to the importance of examining these often hidden and more subtle forms of violence.

Academics call writing like this synthesis, but that is just a fancy word for weaving ideas from different places together, but markers love it! It demonstrates that you really understand the topic you are writing about.

Paraphrasing: To repeat something written or spoken using different words, often in a simpler and shorter form that makes the original meaning clearer

Quoting: Involves copying short passages word-for-word from the original text and placing these within “quotation marks.” Notice how the quote is embedded within my own sentence, it is NOT the whole sentence, this aids readability but most importantly it demonstrates you understand what you are saying

Synthesis: Employs higher level thinking to draw connections between sources and formulate new ideas or arguments. To write using synthesis requires you to seek out and utilise the relationships you find between  journal articles, books, reports etc. 

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