Institutt for sosialantropologi

Racialized Conflict in a Multicultural Society

-Passive Welfare, Tolerance and the Logic of Negative Prejudice (in an Australian Social Drama)


Supervicer: professor Edvard Hviding

I conducted my fieldwork in Townsville, Australia. Using as starting point an Aboriginal riot that took place some time before my fieldwork, I analyse how vicious circles of tension, negative prejudice and wider structures of inequality, in contemporary life reconstructs a history of dominance in White relations to the Australian Aborigines.

The emotional scars following White conquest is still very visible in Australian Aboriginal communities. In terms of life expectancy, housing, health, education and income, Indigenous Australia is often described as being close to third world, obviously a strange and unacceptable situation in a modern and rich country like Australia. Where Aborigines see this as a historical problem, many Whites see these problems as being largely contemporary, and disapproving the forms of otherness that such poor conditions generate.

I follow White mainstream informants displaying negative prejudice towards Aborigines, and analyze how they feel that their negative feelings develop and are reinforced as a result of negative meetings with Aborigines in social situations. These negative meetings create stereotypes of Aborigines as being lazy, criminal, and in general behaving in ways displaying a form of otherness to the mainstream values of relaxation, mate-ness and egalitarianism.