Doesn’t matter if you’re black or white: Othering of First Nation peoples in mainstream criminology journals

A. Deckert

School of Social Sciences and Public Policy, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand,

Canada and the United States both incarcerate Indigenous peoples at disproportionate rates. Previous studies have shown that scholarly discourse in high-ranked criminology journals has remained markedly silent about this issue, and that most published studies employed silencing research methods. Analysing the content of published research, this study reveals that most comparative studies do not classify First Nation peoples as a distinct social group. Rather, academics tend to apply the categories ‘White’, ‘Non-White’ and ‘Other’ indiscriminately; lumping First Nation peoples together with various ethnic groups and thus entirely disregarding and undermining Indigenous peoples’ political and legal uniqueness, histories, and relationship to the land. It is argued that the primarily othering discourse in mainstream criminology journals alienates Indigenous peoples and discourages contributions to criminological research both as participants and scholars. This lack of involvement generates further silence, and is used to legitimise the continued use of silencing research methods. The findings suggest that an intricate interplay of silence, silencing and othering, as observed in mainstream criminological discourse over the past decade (2001-2010), has contributed to the marginalisation of First Nation peoples, the reproduction of social inequality, and the preservation of elite power.


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