Performing Sovereignty 2d - Shifting Borders and Neo-Colonialism


Shifting Borders and Neo-Colonialism

A row of adults and children stand in a row in protest. They hold handwritten posters urging the Australian government to fulfil it's responsibility to refugees detained in PNG. [imagecaption] Protest in Lorengau by an alliance of local Manus Island civil society groups and community members regarding the closure of the Lombrum Regional Processing Centre and pending forced eviction of the men from the camp into Lorengau, 31 October 2017.  Local people from the Manus Alliance Against Human Rights Abuses petitioned the PNG government to pressure the Australian government to take the remaining asylum seekers back to Australia. Also see, article in Tok Pisin about the Manus Alliance Against Human Rights Abuse. [/imagecaption]


‘We got independence and the idea behind Australian aid was supposed to be recompense for their colonisation of us, but now this “aid” is being used to buy PNG, to loot us. To pass their own problems.’

Uncle Davai Rarua, Manusian Local

Australia’s ‘off-shoring’ policy must be situated within the context of Australia’s historical relationship with Nauru and Papua New Guinea, one of unequal power relations, economic and environmental degradation and political control. Though both states sought and secured independence (Nauru in 1968 and PNG in 1975),  in the aftermath of colonisation, they have remained dependent on Australian aid, heightening their vulnerability to exploitation. The designation and use of terminology describing Nauru and PNG as ‘offshore territories’ too invokes an imperial geography within which Australia is situated at the centre while Pacific Islands are defined by their relationship to it: ‘Australia’s backyard’; a region that both is and is not Australian territory.


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