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Indigenous Participation in Australian Economies

Indigenous Participation in Australian Economies: Historical and anthropological perspectives

Edited by Ian Keen
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Indigenous Participation in Australian Economies
    Book Description:

    This volume seeks to contribute to the body of anthropological and historical studies of Indigenous participation in the Australian colonial and post colonial economy. It arises out of a panel on this topic at the annual conference of the Australian Anthropological Society, held jointly with the British and New Zealand anthropological associations in Auckland in December 2008. The panel was organised in conjunction with an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant project on Indigenous participation in Australian economies involving the National Museum of Australia as the partner organisation and the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at The Australian National University. The chapters of the volume bring new theoretical analyses and empirical data to bear on a continuing discussion about the variety of ways in which Indigenous people in Australia have been engaged in the colonial and post-colonial economy. Contributions cover settler capitalism, concepts of property on the frontier, Torres Strait Islanders in the mainland economy, the pastoral industry in the Kimberley, doggers in the Western Desert, bean and pea picking on the South Coast of New South Wales, attitudes to employment in general in western New South Wales, relations of Aboriginal people to mining in the Pilbara, and relations with the uranium mine and Kakadu National Park in the Top End. The chapters also contribute to discussions about theoretical and analytical frameworks relevant to these kinds of contexts and bring critical perspectives to bear on current issues of development.

    eISBN: 978-1-921666-87-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Contributors
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. 1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    This volume arises out of a panel on Indigenous participation in Australian ‘frontier’ economies at the annual conference of the Australian Anthropological Society, held jointly with the British and New Zealand anthropological associations in Auckland in December 2008. The panel arose in turn out of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant project on Indigenous participation in Australian colonial economies involving the National Museum of Australia as the partner organisation and the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at The Australian National University. The researchers engaged in this project (2007–10) were Ian Keen (The Australian National University), Christopher Lloyd (University...

  7. 2. The emergence of Australian settler capitalism in the nineteenth century and the disintegration/integration of Aboriginal societies: hybridisation and local evolution within the world market
    (pp. 23-40)

    Australian settler capitalism emerged under the tutelage of the British state, which permitted the blending of public interest and private property, within an imperial geopolitical and capitalist dynamic, in the early nineteenth century. The landmass of Australia was more or less ‘cleared’ over time of impediments to extractive, land-extensive, capitalist pastoralism and agriculture and the Aboriginal inhabitants were marginalised and decimated. The greatest barrier, however, to unfettered capitalist accumulation within the settler mode of production—in Australia as elsewhere—was that of labour, as Wakefield (1929) and Marx (1996) understood. Labour was soon scarce, especially when convictism ended, and far...

  8. 3. The interpretation of Aboriginal ‘property’ on the Australian colonial frontier
    (pp. 41-62)

    Captain Collet Barker took command of Fort Wellington garrison outpost at Raffles Bay in the Northern Territory in August 1828 and, after it was abandoned a year later, he commanded the garrison at King George Sound in the south-west of Western Australia, where he remained until the end of March 1831. He has been described as one of the more enlightened of the British officers in his dealings with Aboriginal people (Mulvaney and Green 1992:42). Relations between personnel of these outposts and local Aboriginal people have been described as amicable, and that is the impression one gets from Barker’s journals....

  9. 4. From island to mainland: Torres Strait Islanders in the Australian labour force
    (pp. 63-72)

    The Torres Strait Islanders are Australia’s other Indigenous minority. Until the 1960s, their homelands were the small islands between Cape York and the Western Province of Papua New Guinea, which their ancestors had occupied since ‘time immemorial’. Apart from Thursday Island, which Australian settlers have made an administrative and commercial centre since 1879, the Indigenous inhabitants remained in occupation of their home islands, free to cultivate gardens, fish or hunt turtle and dugong.¹ Finding themselves on the periphery of world capitalism since the middle of the nineteenth century, however, the Islanders had become suppliers of turtle shell and then divers...

  10. 5. Exchange and appropriation: the Wurnan economy and Aboriginal land and labour at Karunjie Station, north-western Australia
    (pp. 73-90)

    The traditional Wurnan trade network spans a number of socio-cultural regions in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and beyond, operating at both small-scale interpersonal and larger-scale inter-group levels, channelling ritual and simple economic objects of desire through predetermined but flexible trading routes (see also Blundell and Layton 1978; Redmond 2001a). This chapter examines Wurnan as practised by Ngarinyin people at Karunjie Station in the East Kimberley and the way in which successive generations of Ngarinyin participants have maintained and adapted the two very different systems of Wurnan and the pastoral station economy within their social worlds. The pastoral station...

  11. 6. Dingo scalping and the frontier economy in the north-west of South Australia
    (pp. 91-108)

    Responding to the threat from the dingo to pastoral stock, in 1912, the South Australian Government passed the Wild Dogs Act. Later, in the 1920s, there were similar schemes introduced in Western Australia and the Northern Territory (Gara 2005). In reframing the dingo as a commodity, materialising its value through the presentation of its skin as a ‘scalp’ and offering a bounty for it, the legislation created specific conditions for encounters between Aboriginal people in the far north-west of South Australia and the settlers in the form of the bushmen who pursued that bounty and who came to be known...

  12. 7. Peas, beans and riverbanks: seasonal picking and dependence in the Tuross Valley
    (pp. 109-126)

    The Tuross River Valley is one of six major estuarine systems along the South Coast region of New South Wales. Today, the valley falls within the boundaries of the Eurobodalla Shire. The Yuin people are acknowledged as the traditional owners and custodians of the region. The township of Bodalla is located on the northern elbow of the Tuross River and the major nearby towns are Moruya in the north and Narooma to the south. While Bodalla achieved renown as a major dairying centre in the late nineteenth century, the forestry and horticultural industries have also made significant contributions to its...

  13. 8. ‘Who you is?’ Work and identity in Aboriginal New South Wales
    (pp. 127-140)

    Ideas and practices relating to work, productivity and leisure are a source of much disagreement and ill feeling between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia. For dominant Western cultures, labour in its most common guise of ‘work’ offers a cogent means through which people come to know themselves and become known to others (Crawford 1985). How does this notion translate to Indigenous social realms? This chapter offers an ethnographically grounded examination of the intersections between work, employment and identity for Indigenous people living in a country town in far western New South Wales, Australia.¹ What does it mean to be...

  14. 9. Sustainable Aboriginal livelihoods and the Pilbara mining boom
    (pp. 141-164)

    Recently referred to as ‘recreational lifestyles’ (Johns 2009:22), the various socioeconomic choices that some Aboriginal people make, in remote areas especially, are often contrasted with how these same people should be operating in the ‘real economy’. There is considerable debate about the value of the ‘real economy’ as a term, given that neo-liberalism tends to be the reference point (Altman 2009; Pholi et al. 2009). Nevertheless, if we think in terms of the ‘mainstream’—as this term tends to be understood—the mining industry can readily be typified as the ‘real’ economy. Pilbara Iron, a business arm of Rio Tinto,...

  15. 10. Realities, simulacra and the appropriation of Aboriginality in Kakadu’s tourism
    (pp. 165-186)

    Like the previous two chapters, this final chapter is located in the present and recent past. In the sense used by Richard Davis (2005) and other contemporary writers, it imagines colonisation as an extension of the colonial period of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries into the present. It is about some effects of tourism—always a feature of national parks—in Kakadu National Park on Australia’s north coast. I argue that tourism generally, especially what is often dubbed ‘cultural tourism’, has created significant disadvantage for the Aboriginal people of the area. After first introducing this now-famous park, I look at...

  16. Index
    (pp. 187-196)