Accepted paper:

Societies of risk: remote indigenous communities and Norfolk island


Richard Davis (Central Land Council)
Mitchell Low (University Western Australia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks at how government uses inquiries and reports to reveal and conceal social realities by examining recent government interventions into Kimberley Aboriginal communities and Norfolk Island. We discuss secrecy and risk in relation to citizenship, community and sovereignty.

Paper long abstract:

In November 2014 the Western Australia Premier announced that his government intended to close around half of the state's 274 remote communities. Four months later in a very different part of Australia, Norfolk Island, the Commonwealth Government decided to abolish the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly and Executive Council, ending a period, starting in 1979, of autonomous government there. In both cases, government invoked a rhetoric of 'failure leading to crisis', echoing earlier uses of failure to justify government intervention in Northern Territory indigenous communities in the mid-2000s. In all three cases, the revelation of concealed realities became a mobilising trope of government, given substance through official reports, hinted-at-official-information and leaks of classified documents. Using these case studies we look at the use of secrecy and risk as means to identify concerns about social and individual security against broader characterisations of citizenship, community and sovereignty. We triangulate our discussion through reference to Tim Rowse's distinction between people and population and Elizabeth's Povinelli's use of social tense in creating societies of risk.

panel Cit01
The moral economy of citizenship in late liberalism