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Colonial sovereignties and the self-colonizing conundrum

Fiona McAllan


Relational epistemologies and ontologies of indigenous populations call into question the legitimacy of colonial sovereign foundations. Referring to Derrida’s sketch of the impossible, Watson writes: “My suggestion is that the moment of ‘impossibility’ in recognizing the sovereignty of Aboriginal laws, is the moment which provides Australians with the opportunity to ‘take responsibility’ in order to have a future” (2006, p. 26). Nevertheless the colonial law that presumes settled foundations continues to deny any need to address its own legitimacy. Derrida (2005) argues that progressive reason consigns to forgetting its historical and subjective origins, likening this to a spider spinning a cocoon of autoimmunity to preserve its right to reason determinately rather than boldly traversing its web. Is it possible for reason to speculate reasonably with itself? (p. 127–40).

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