Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2020
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Deporting Indigenous Migrants: Maori Mobility and the Australian Project of Exclusion

My dissertation develops in a moment of crisis in Southern Oceania. Since 2014 the Australian government has deported more than 800 Maori people back to New Zealand, their nominal indigenous homeland. I locate the deportations in the context of Australia's historical practices of excluding non-white migrants and ravaging Aboriginal relationships to land and family. Across nations that began with settler colonialism, especially the United States, scholars of immigration increasingly theorize deportation as "elimination". Similarly, Indigenous scholars argue that settler colonial governments pursue the effective elimination of Indigenous sovereignty. This project brings together immigration history and Indigenous theory to ask: what do we make of the Indigenous migrant? Though Maori are indigenous to New Zealand, more than twenty percent of Maori people live inside Australia's borders. Since 1973 a reciprocal arrangement between New Zealand and Australia has allowed Maori to migrate to Australia without formally applying for a visa. Once in Australia, most Maori live on temporary visas with no access to permanent residency or citizenship, and restricted access to social services. Contemporary scholars frame the deportations as a violation of migrant rights. But a rights-focused framework proves insufficient for understanding the historically rooted and intimate ways that Australia's migration policies produce structural vulnerabilities and re-arrange Maori relations. Through extended ethnographic research with Maori migration advocates in the Australian cities of Adelaide and Parramatta, Sydney, archival research into Australia's historical practices of exclusion, and interviews and archival research with my own Maori tribe in the Waikato region of New Zealand, I will ask how decades of Australian immigration policies have produced possibilities and devastations for Maori relations to place, nation, and, crucially, kin.