16 March 2011
Venue: Lecture Theatre B10, Library Building, Alfred Street
Department of Anthropology/James Henare Centre seminar by Professor Jon Altman, Australian National University.
Since Anglo colonisation of Australia, western, and more recently neo-liberal, ways of thinking about resources as property for market exploitation have been dominant. Even today as there are global concerns about climate change, biodiversity loss and resource depletion from unchecked economic growth an Indigenous conservation narrative is challenged and subordinated.
The Indigenous estate in Australia can be conceptualised, to use Arturo Escobar’s words, as ‘territories of difference’ where there may be different ways of thinking about land and resources. Today this estate covers 1.7 million sq kms and comprises regions of considerable conservation value. Drawing on findings from a multi-site research project under way in north Australia, this lecture explores how powerful state and corporate interests might be shifted to new ways of thinking about the Indigenous estate. How might a more productive balance be drawn between development and conservation? How might the actions of Indigenous people influence such processes? How can Australian public discourse be shifted from a language that highlights Aboriginal deficits and instead recognises assets that might be mobilised in the Aboriginal and national interests?
Jon Altman is a research professor in anthropology at the Australian National University, Canberra. Initially trained as a development economist at The University of Auckland, he has undertaken research on Indigenous development in Australia since 1976. From 1990-2010 he was the Foundation Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at the ANU and in 2003 was elected a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. His current work focuses on issues associated with economic hybridity, political ecology and critical development studies.
Professor Jon Altman’s visit is sponsored by The University of Auckland Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Visitor Fund, Te Whare Kura and the Business School.