‘Lateral violence stems from the colonial system’: settler-colonialism and lateral violence in Aboriginal Australians

Theoni Whyman, Cammi Murrup-Stewart, Michael Young, Adrian Carter, Laura Jobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The tendency of Indigenous people to direct their frustration and anger, due to oppression, toward members of their own group is known as lateral violence. While settler-colonization is often attributed as the main cause of lateral violence, research has not examined what specific aspects lead to lateral violence in Aboriginal communities. In a qualitative study, using yarning and thematic analysis, 17 Aboriginal Australians (53% male, 47% female) ranging in age from 18 to over 60, discussed what they believed to be the causes of lateral violence. Knowledge holders identified historical and contemporary causes and perpetuating factors of lateral violence, all of which were related to settler-colonialism. These causes included living in a colonial society, native title, access and competition for limited resources, the process of obtaining confirmation of Aboriginality certificate, identity issues and internalized racism, past traumas, and returning back to traditional lands. Settler-colonialism is a structure through which lateral violence was, and is, allowed to flourish. Challenges to the settler-colonial system need to be made to effectively combat lateral violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-201
Number of pages19
JournalPostcolonial Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2023


  • Aboriginal people
  • lateral violence
  • qualitative research
  • settler-colonialism

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