Accepted paper:

The flip side of development aspiration: deficit discourse in Australian Indigenous policy


Hannah Bulloch (Australian National University)
William Fogarty (Australian National University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the dialectic between deficit discourse and development aspiration in the Australian Indigenous policy arena.

Paper long abstract:

A language of lack - deficit, absence, problems - pervades the policy environment of Australian Indigenous development. Such discourse is always produced in relation to aspiration - aspirations state institutions hold for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and aspirations such institutions assume Indigenous people ought to nurture for themselves. But what relationship do either have to aspirations Indigenous Australians actually hold? With particular reference to the education section, this paper probes the relationship between deficit discourse and development aspiration: how they co-produce one another, the extent to which they provide leeway for varied cultural perspectives of the good life, and how they resonate with, and contribute to shaping, Indigenous understandings of self.

panel P42
Modernization 2.0: new directions in the anthropology of development