Culture Wars: Liberalism, Hospitality and Sovereignty

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Borderlands E-Journal, 2007, 6 (3), pp. 1 - ?
Issue Date:
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This paper offers an exploration of the interrelation of (neo)liberalism, hospitality and state sovereignty. This is done in the context of the 'cultural wars' which, I argue, is the site in and through which the Howard Liberal Coalition government promotes a teleological grand narrative underpinned by whiteness. In this paper I contend that whiteness is the overriding project concerned with the renewal of white social and economic privilege and power; racelessness is the mechanism of disavowing race as significant to, in this instance, liberalism. Liberalism is positioned as the end point and racelessness its outcome in politics and culture. Against this logic, this paper examines the constitutive racism of liberalism under the Howard government and the implications of the disavowal of this racism for practices of hospitality toward asylum seekers and migrants. By promoting liberalism as universal, innocent and unmarked by race relations, the Howard government has been able to reconfigure public debate, policy and law. Liberalism as unmarked veils over the perpetuation of racial hierarchies and disguises the racial implications of policy and law attached to a (neo)liberal agenda. In this sense, we cannot narrate neo-liberalism as a radical aberration of liberalism thus positing liberalism as innocent or distinct from racial violences. I contend that contemporary forms of liberalism are concerned with reconsolidating the group rights of whites to the exclusion of Indigenous sovereignty.
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