Practices of Exclusion: Mass Incarceration of M?ori and the Impact of State Violence on the Indigenous Community in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:30
Location: Hörsaal 31 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Maja CURCIC, The University of Auckland, New Zealand
Marko GALIC, The University of Auckland, New Zealand
This paper explores the connection between the mass incarceration of Māori and its impact on the well-being of Māori communities. With the colonisation of Aotearoa/New Zealand and development of a white settler society based on the imposition of European social institutions, the capitalist political economy and the appropriation of Indigenous land, Māori became subject to British understandings of law and order. To justify mass colonial settlement colonisers used both ideological and repressive strategies of exclusion. A colonial ideology was embodied through symbolic violence based on the systematic ignorance of tikanga Māori (customs and practices) and forced identities that embedded racism into the white settler’s society; meanwhile repressive strategies were instilled through law and order policies and military/police enforcement. Consequently, Māori became a focus, and a subject of, the criminal justice system. Since then they have been over-represented in prisons, juvenile detention centres, mental hospitals and other forms of confinement.   

Today, Māori make up around 15 per cent of the New Zealand population but over 50 per cent of the prison population. When the data is disaggregated for gender the rate is even more sobering: Māori women represent over two thirds of women prisoners. This paper is based on ongoing research, including interviews with ex-prisoners (and gang members), their families and with the Indigenous scholars to illuminate the connection between mass incarceration and its impact on the well-being of Māori communities. The presentation will also critically analyse mainstream society’s symbolic representation of Māori as criminals, and the symbolic violence that continues with the ignorance of tikanga Māori, the obliteration of New Zealand is colonial history, and ultimately forms of white privilege that sustain ‘racism without racists’.