The policy adopted towards the Aborigines in Australia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries can only be described as 'genocidal', Discuss
In the study of Australian history, the policies adopted towards the Aborigines in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, is arguably the most controversial area to date. In the current climate of heat in Aboriginal affairs, 'genocide' is a word, which is mostly avoided by historians of both, black and white origin. This can be explained on two fronts. First of all, the definition of genocide is open to debate. Historians are divided over the current international legal definition offered by the United Nations. Secondly, the traditional views of genocide and its association with events such as the Holocaust and more recently charges of ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia discourage historians to associate Australia with stereotypical visions of Swastika - wearing SS psychopaths or mass burial graves. Nevertheless, all historians agree that conflict existed between Aborigines and European settlers.
Throughout the essay I will examine the debate over the definition of genocide and establish a model to be applied in the case of Australia. Furthermore the policies adopted towards the Aborigines, which can be associated with the decimation of the population, will be examined, dismissing a premeditated plan of genocide.
The creation of the word genocide has caused major debates between historians since its arrival in 1944 from a Polish lawyer called Raphael Lemkin. The word combines ancient Greek 'genos', meaning race or tribe, with the Latin 'cide', meaning to kill . Lemkin's concept emerged from an attempt to adequately describe the Holocaust, the systematic persecution of the Jews in Nazi ruled Europe. Influenced by Lemkin, the United Nations Convention of 1948 legally defined genocide, as
'Acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or part, a national ethnic,