Coloniser control and the art of disremembering a “dark history”: Duality in Australia Day and Australian history

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology




Kurongkurl Katitjin




Lipscombe, T. A., Dzidic, P. L., & Garvey, D. C. (2020). Coloniser control and the art of disremembering a “dark history”: Duality in Australia Day and Australian history. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 30(3), 322-335. https://doi.org/10.1002/casp.2444


Often, colonisation is considered a single, past event; in actuality, colonisation is a continual enculturating practice that galvanises historical Indigenous inequality and colonial privilege. This study deconstructs social tension surround Australia Day—the national day of celebration that for some is seen as the date marking the beginning of Australia but for others marks invasion. Given that the date of celebration marks the beginning of non‐Indigenous privilege and Indigenous disadvantage in Australia, debate exists as to whether the date should remain the same. Twelve people, self‐identified as wanting the date of Australia Day to stay the same, participated in semistructured interviews; transcripts were analysed using causal layered analysis. Findings suggest an unstable national identity centred on a denial of past and present oppression of Indigenous peoples—the past is conceptualised as having little relevance to present‐day Indigenous inequalities. Findings generated appear transferable to understanding social tensions that arise in colonised states globally, particularly relating to Indigenous inequalities and colonist privilege. Exploring Australia Day acts as a conduit for understanding how social psychological barriers occur to deny historical and present social injustices and positively constructs oppression within colonist states.



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Research Themes

Society and Culture

Priority Areas

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander society and culture