Samantha Jan Prendergast

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York U.

Grant number

Gr. 10022

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Prendergast, Samantha (New York U.) "Deporting Indigenous Migrants: Māori Mobility and the Australian Project of Exclusion"

This dissertation develops in a moment of crisis: between 2014 and 2019 the Australian government deported over 900 Māori migrants “back” to Aotearoa New Zealand, their nominal indigenous homeland. The deportations disrupt Māori community in Australia, where twenty percent of Māori live, and produce tensions in New Zealand. Currently, 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 migration policies produce structural vulnerabilities and re-arrange Indigenous relations. By locating the recent deportations in the long history of Australia’s exclusionary laws and policies–directed towards Aboriginal Australians as well as racialized migrants–I will examine the effects of Australian practices of exclusion on Māori conceptions of political community. I will do so by analyzing the archives of Australian political decision making alongside ethnographic and interview-based research with Australia-based Māori migration advocates, migrants, and tribal authorities. Drawing on recent anthropological literature that theorizes the capacity of state infrastructure to produce and constrain relational possibilities, I ask how the exclusionary logics of Australian settler nation-building have shaped possibilities and devastations for Māori relations to place, nation, and, crucially, kin.