Turning Indigenous People into Subjects: Ballardong Noongars and Sustainable Development in the Avon Valley, Western Australia

Abstract : The Avon Valley in the Wheatbelt, the main agricultural region of Western Australia, has been extensively cleared and farmed. The Aboriginal people who call this area home are the Ballardong Noongars. They have developed a deep spiritual understanding of their environment, which has been irreversibly disrupted by colonisation, along with their traditional way of life and beliefs. Nowadays, the environmental crisis comes as a new threat to the small body of knowledge they have managed to preserve. Yaraguia is a Balardong Noongar family-based association that focuses on 'healing the country and the people'. On its property in the Avon Valley, Yaraguia tries to revitalize Balardong Noongar traditional knowledge and combine it with Western science and techniques to secure sustainable land management practices. Yaraguia's aim is to also help Ballardong Noongars re-connect with their country and culture and improve their social and economic conditions. Including Ballardong Noongars in ecological conservation processes has the potential to secure an environmentally, economically as well as socially sustainable future for the Avon Valley. This can be achieved without resorting to discourses that depict Indigenous people as 'environmentalists' who care for their environment only for nature's sake as a way to criticize an environmentally-unfriendly modern society. Instead, I argue that Indigenous people have to be considered as subjects, not objects, with a valuable set of expertise and understanding and that their traditional knowledge have to integrated in a positive and productive mode of re-thinking modern society and sustainability.
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Contributor : Virginie Bernard <>
Submitted on : Monday, November 7, 2011 - 6:50:08 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 1:30:16 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-00639003, version 1



Virginie Bernard. Turning Indigenous People into Subjects: Ballardong Noongars and Sustainable Development in the Avon Valley, Western Australia. "Knowledge and Value in a Globalizing World: Disentangling dichotomies, Querying Unities" - The combined IUAES / AAS / ASAANZ 2011 Conference, Jul 2011, Perth, Australia. ⟨halshs-00639003⟩



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