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Race relations in Australia

Race relations in Australia have at least since European colonization of the continent been controversial. That this should be so is troubling and ethically problematic, but it should hardly come as a surprise, for tensions and even violence among different racial and ethnic groups are the norm rather than the exception in human society. This paper examines the issue of race relations within a larger context, looking at some of the more important historical and epistemological issues that have shaped the perceptions of race relations, especially those existing between indigenous peoples and the colonizers of what were once solely their lands.

Any discussion of the politics of race must begin with the concept of race itself. Race is generally conceptualized as a biological category, a genetic distinction. Race is in commonsensical ways of thinking and speaking conceptualized as something that is real or true in an objective sense, in the same way that it is true that humans require oxygen to survive or that carbon monoxide can be lethal because of the greater affinity of hemoglobin for this gas than for oxygen. In some sense this is true, for certainly there are physical distinctions amongst different people and different populations that are grouped together to form racial categories and these physical distinctions are based in genetic and chromosomal variations. It is undeniably true, for example, that some people have darker skin than others. This is a biological fact, encoded in the twists of DNA that compose the individuality of each human being.

But there is a significant jump in logic required to go from an acknowledgment that there are genetic aspects to skin pigmentation and an acknowledgment of the naturalness and rightness of racial categories. It is hard to believe that anyone with an understanding of modern genetics would dispute the former statement, but many people would disagree with the latter. Physical dissimilar...

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Race relations in Australia. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:09, April 21, 2019, from