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Donna Awatere on Whiteness in New Zealand: Theoretical Contributions and Contemporary Relevance

In June 2022, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern designated the US-based neofascist groups The Base and the Proud Boys as terrorist organisations. This designation marks one of the few times white supremacy entered the national political discourse in New Zealand. Discourses of whiteness are mostly theorised in the North American context. However, Donna Awatere’s 1984 examination of White Cultural Imperialism (WCI) in her book Māori Sovereignty advanced an analysis of whiteness in New Zealand that has received limited scholarly attention and is essentially unexplored. This paper reintroduces Awatere’s conceptualisation of WCI. It offers core tenets of WCI and theoretical insights into contemporary discussions of white supremacy that move beyond the focus of individuals and groups to a broader national framework of New Zealand. Two interrelated features of WCI, as defined by Awatere, are the minimisation and normalisation of whiteness and white racial hostility – inherent features that maintain, protect, and reproduce the white institutionalised body as the primary beneficiary of Western European domination that will always thwart Indigenous sovereignty and equality. This paper concludes that Awatere’s articulation of WCI links whiteness in the New Zealand context to the broader network of global white supremacy that offers insight into contemporary criminal justice scholarship.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Decolonization of Criminology and Justice
© 2023. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.