Accommodating Difference? The Socio-Politics of an Aboriginal Fringe Camp in a Remote Australian Town

Dr. Sarah Holcombe
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The marginalisation of Aboriginal people in remote Australia is reflected in a contemporary Aboriginal fringe camp (referred to as Creek camp) in a Central Australian town. By exploring the socio-political history of this place, the colonial structures that reinforce separation and marginality are revealed. That this town is surrounded by Aboriginal freehold land and serviced by a predominantly Aboriginal Council speaks of the complex interleaving of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal interests. These interests have been formed through the violent history of the pastoral frontier in this region and the influences of the Lutheran church. Yet, there is also agency in the choice of creek campers to live on the fringes of the town. Indeed, some have been doing so for as long as they can recall and actively state that they have no desire to live in a formal house in a structured suburb – as exists across the highway within the township. Balancing a universal human rights perspective (that considers “conditioned satisfaction”, for instance) with that of a culturally and locally informed agency is a key challenge articulated in this paper.

Keywords: Colonisation, Marginality, Agency, Australian Aboriginal People
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Accommodating Difference?

Dr. Sarah Holcombe

Coordinator and Research Fellow, Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre (DK CRC) and Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University (ANU)
Canberra, ACT, Australia

Dr Holcombe has been at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) at the ANU for 4 years where she currently holds two positions. The first position is as Research Fellow on a project concerning Aboriginal community governance-focusing on forms of Aboriginal engagement with the State. The second position is as the (inaugural) Social Science Coordinator for the Desert Knowledge CRC. This position is primarily concerned with ensuring that social science methodologies are integrated across the diverse research portfolio and that Aboriginal people become partners in the research, rather than merely stakeholders. To this end she is currently developing a series of research engagement tools - as part of a "collaboration toolkit". Prior to joining the ANU, she worked for several Aboriginal Land Councils as an anthropologist and undertook PhD field research in the small Central Australian settlement of Mt Liebig on the socio-political process of 'community' making.

Ref: I07P0159