(P29)
Fission and collision: disputation over native title boundaries and group membership
Location The Cairns Institute, D3-059
Date and Start Time 05 Dec, 2018 at 11:15
Sessions 2

Convenor

  • Timothy Pilbrow (First Nations Legal & Research Services ) email

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Short abstract

This panel seeks papers with a strong ethnographic focus upon conflict and disputation but which also offer enhanced theoretical understandings of, and practice-based approaches to, these kinds of conflict.

Long abstract

Native title practitioners are continually engaged with claimant disputes revolving around two major issues: boundaries of social groups and boundaries of country. These schismatic processes occur across a range of levels from the micro-social disputes between close kin, sometimes with different purported landed identities, through to local estate, language and regional group levels.

Different aspects of these disputes, ranging from the consideration of more endogenous political processes to analyses of lateral violence and conflict-generating state regimes, have been addressed in many fora and research publications since the earliest years of native title practice (Smith and Finlayson 1997, Jones 2002, Correy, McCarthy and Redmond 2006, Burnside 2013). The consistent research and administrative/legal focus upon conflict and disputation attests to its fraught social importance for all parties within the native title arena.

This panel seeks papers with a strong ethnographic focus upon conflict and disputation but which also offer enhanced theoretical understandings of, and practice-based approaches to, these kinds of conflict.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Theorising post-settlement litigation in South African land restitution

Author: Derick Fay (University of California, Riverside) email
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Short abstract

Conflict among claimants is endemic to South African land restitution: communities settle claims, only to end up litigating internal struggles. Intra-community conflict reflects patterns of juridification and neoliberal governance, undermining restitution and limiting opposition to state policies.

Long abstract

Conflict among claimants is endemic to South African land restitution: while land-claiming communities and the state rush to nominally settle claims, these leave latent conflicts that subsequently result in litigating internal struggles. Public hearings as part of a national review of restitution policy (HLP Report 2017) confirm the findings of local ethnographic studies (Beyers and Fay 2015, Fay 2013), as "speakers referred to the conflict, and enormous waste of time and expense in litigation, caused by competing or overlapping land claims, or competing stakeholder interests in particular land under claim" (HLP Report 2017: 239).

Drawing upon the author's ethnographic fieldwork on the Dwesa-Cwebe land claim (Fay 2013), and comparative analysis (Beyers and Fay 2015, HLP Report 2017), the paper critically reflects on attempts to theorise these processes. The practice of "bunching" disparate groups and interests in large group claims, tensions between claimant groups and the legal entities created to represent them, and the uncertainties and highly technical processes of claims implementation all contribute to the prevalence of conflict. These take place against the neoliberal background of the diminishing administrative capacity of the state, fragmentation of sovereignty, and the promotion of contractual arrangements between land claimants and "strategic partners," conditions which allow external actors to take advantage of intra-community conflict. Given the prospect of an independent hearing in the courts, these conditions give rise to the prominence of recourse to the law and litigation, even as such conflicts limit and fragment opposition to state policies and practices.

Extraction, environmentalism and intra-Indigenous disputation in Central Queensland

Authors: Richard Martin (University of Queensland) email
Kim de Rijke (University of Queensland ) email
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Short abstract

This paper draws on ethnographic work in Central Queensland to address disputes relating to coal and unconventional gas extraction. We focus on the intersection between kinship, landed identity and divergent aspirations for the future.

Long abstract

In this paper we draw on our ethnographic work in Central Queensland to address disputes relating to coal and unconventional gas extraction in the Galilee and Bowen Basins. We focus on the intersection between kinship, landed identity and divergent aspirations for the future within the context of resource developments and environmental debates. While addressing intra-Indigenous agency within these disputes, we also pay attention to structural constraints introduced by the native title system, as well as the role of different kinds of Whitefellas in fomenting disputes, and seeking to resolve them.

The integrative value of conflict and dispute: implications for defining community in the native title context

Author: Timothy Pilbrow (First Nations Legal & Research Services ) email
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Short abstract

How conflict and disputes are framed by participants and others in the native title claim arena can affect claim outcomes. Viewing 'culture' or group identity as emergent through disputation enables conflict to be seen as a productive and integrative aspect of social and cultural practice.

Long abstract

Conflict and dispute within and between Aboriginal communities is a frequent counterpart to the native title claim process in Australia. Whether or not the claim process itself is seen as a causal factor in a given instance, it does provide an arena (and resources) for disputation. How conflict and disputes are framed by participants and other parties in the native title claim arena can profoundly shape outcomes. Conflict and dispute are often interpreted by participants and observers as a barrier to timely claims resolution. I argue that anthropology's long-standing interest in the integrative and constitutive role of conflict and dispute has both theoretical and practical value for re-framing the treatment of conflict and dispute. Of particular value are ideas from anthropologists associated with Manchester University in the mid-twentieth century regarding conflict as a normal state of dynamic tension within society. A reappraisal of the Manchester School's contributions in the light of more recent theoretical concerns with human agency allows us to examine conflict not just for what it reveals about other facets of social and cultural experience (e.g., kinship systems, normative practices regarding rights in land), but also as a means by which social and cultural values themselves are constituted and reproduced. Viewing 'culture' or group cohesion as emergent through disputation should assist anthropologists working in the native title field to incorporate conflict as a productive aspect of social and cultural practice, and not necessarily as something detrimental to the claim process.

Disputation after the Yorta Yorta Native title case

Author: Yugo Tomonaga (Ryukoku Universiy) email
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Short abstract

This paper concerns political divisiveness in the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation and it clarifies the relationship between the Yorta Yorta and the Bangarong with some stake holders. Consequently, it reveals that the present YYNAC movements occur on the multiple conditions.

Long abstract

This paper concerns political divisiveness in the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation and it clarifies the relationship between the Yorta Yorta with some environmental NGOs and academics and the Barmgaong with local government and people through the dispute over the Co-operative Agreement between the YYNAC and the state of Victoria. Consequently, it reveals that the present Yorta Yorta movements do not only occur on the binary situation between the Yorta Yorta and local people and government, but on the multiple conditions due to involvement of the international, national and local environmental NGOs and the intellectuals from the urban area. Moreover, a family group in YYNAC takes collaborative work with local government and people. Thus, the strategies for conducting the movements are transformed in terms of wider or narrow network. In this context, the wider society tends to treat the Yorta Yorta people and the Bangarong people as one of the mere actors who support this civil movement so the movement threatens the Yorta Yorta and the Bangarong to lose their authenticities as Traditional Owner in their country. In preventing the Yorta Yorta and the Bangarong from losing their authenticities as Toraditional Owner and, in conducting their movements in control, they have to seek the way to maintain their indigeneties through their traditional and living knowledge on the forest and river into the Cultural Map. On the other hand, the Bangarong people use the name "Bangarong" to get solid trust from local people as the Traditional Owner in the area.

From the shadows of the law: positively re-conceiving fission as friction

Author: Bruce White email
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Short abstract

Ethnographic encounters from the Shadows of the Law, exploring the extent the perceived problematic fissioning of Aboriginal Peoples in the pursuit of Native Title might be more positively re-conceived as 'friction' evidencing persistent, resilient, locally indigenous ways of being

Long abstract

A small assembly direct ethnographic encounters from within the shadows of Native Title Law (see Bourke 2010: 57-58), in north-east Australia's wet tropics (including from Yarrabah and Cairns and more), retrospectively casting light on the extent to which the perceived problematic fissioning of Aboriginal Peoples in the pursuit of Native Title might be more properly and more usefully re-conceived as 'friction' (see Tsing 2004) positively evidencing persistent, resilient, locally indigenous systems of lore and ways of being in the way they grind up against the more Anglo-Australian idealized Native Title legal dreaming

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.