Dr. Timothy Neale, Research Fellow,
Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation,
Wednesday, August 16th
12:00 pm to 1:00 p.m.
Room 3-36 HMTory
Firestick experiments: understanding new collaborations between Aboriginal peoples and wildfire management agencies
in southeast Australia
Abstract: In this paper, I seek to give an account of emergent and productive relationships between Aboriginal people and wildfire management agencies in southeast Australia. These relationship re the product of several intersecting histories, including not only Aboriginal peoples’ long assertion of their rights to ‘Country,’ founded in millennia of custodianship and care, and the state’s various attempts to ‘settle’ claims to public lands, but also the wildfire/bushfire sector’s interest in reducing risk to those same lands. Buoyed significantly by recent influential accounts of the ‘firestick farming’ knowledge and practices of Aboriginal peoples and their ancestors on the Australian continent, a range of experimental collaborative initiatives have recently begun. Nonetheless, I argue that at this contingent moment it is important to understand the diverse discourses underpinning these collaborations, particularly given the limited legal protections of Aboriginal peoples’ intellectual property and land rights in this part of the continent, and the motivations of the different actors engaged. In short, I argue that in moments of renewed enthusiasm for collaboration we must not lose sight of the search for decolonizing engagements with our pyrophilic surroundings.