Political apologies and the question of a ‘shared time’ in the Australian context

Theory, Culture and Society 30 (5):94-121 (2013)
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Abstract
Although conceptually distinct, ‘ time ’ and ‘community’ are multiply intertwined within a myriad of key debates in both the social sciences and the humanities. Even so, the role of conceptions of time in social practices of inclusion and exclusion has yet to achieve the prominence of other key analytical categories such as identity and space. This article seeks to contribute to the development of this field by highlighting the importance of thinking time and community together through the lens of political apologies. Often ostensibly offered in order to re-articulate both the constitution of ‘the community’ and its future direction, official apologies are prime examples of deliberate attempts to intervene in shared understandings of political community and its temporality. Offering a detailed case study of one of these apologies, I will focus on Australian debates over the removal of indigenous children from their families, known as the Stolen Generations, and examine the temporal dimensions of the different responses offered by former prime ministers John Howard and Kevin Rudd.
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