The fragility of self-determination and the deeper challenge of the politics of indigeneity
Sarah Maddison Jones


Dominic O’Sullivan (2006) develops an important argument concerning the revisionist reduction of Indigenous rights to a concept of ‘need’, thereby obscuring the important basis of claims for Indigenous self-determination. In response, this commentary argues that in practice, self-determination is itself a contradictory and fragile concept, and suggests that O’Sullivan has understated the deeper claims of the politics of Indigeneity. Indigeneity is not limited to calls for self-determination, which are seemingly inevitably muted by government mediation into policies for self-determination and thence subject to assimilationist and populist critique. The politics of Indigeneity also includes the more profound and challenging desire for a meaningful Indigenous sovereignty.

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