The concept of community invokes notions of an idealised unity of purpose and action among social groups who are perceived to share a common culture. To some extent, ‘community’ and ‘culture’ are treated as synonymous, rather than as principles operating at different levels of social realities. Indigenous culture is therefore seen to define Indigenous community. This, of course, is not so.
This discussion paper raises the question: ‘what constitutes an Aboriginal community’?
It examines how some Aboriginal people identify with communities, and explores how they are represented and conceptualised both internally and externally. The short term aim of this paper is to encourage readers to examine popular notions of Aboriginal ‘communities’ and their historical development and to ensure further debate about how Aboriginal people identify and determine one’s ‘community’. I argue that today’s popular notions of community, identity and self-representation are increasingly problematic for ‘rural’ Aboriginal people’s quest for native title, reconciliation and self-determination.