Authenticity and adaptation: native title claim in the South West of Western Australia

Abstract : Since the 1990s, the Noongar, the Aborigines of the South West of Western Australia, have been engaged in Native Title claims over their land and are actually negotiating with the State Government of Western Australia to settle these claims. Colonisation had a deep and devastating impact on the Noongar, white settlement and intensive farming often forced them out of their land or pushed them into adapting their traditional way of life to survive. Nowadays, most of the land is held in private property by white Australians and the Noongar are marginalised. The claiming process raises discourses of authenticity, belonging and adaptation. On the one hand, the white Australians are anxious of the impact that such a recognition could have on a land that officially belongs to them. Some feel guilty for the dispossession their ancestors have caused on the traditional land owners, others are resentful of the Noongar community which they consider has lost its traditional culture. On the other hand, the Noongar are required to prove their authenticity and the continuity of their culture in order to be recognised as the traditional owners of the South West and be granted land rights. While trying to demonstrate that their culture has survived thanks to its flexibility and capacity of adaptation, the Noongar have also engaged themselves in the revival of certain traditional customs and features and some family groups are arguing around issues of authenticity. This paper explores the mobilisations, interactions and impacts of these conflicting perspectives and discourses.
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Virginie Bernard <>
Submitted on : Saturday, August 17, 2013 - 12:37:40 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 1:31:37 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-00851729, version 1



Virginie Bernard. Authenticity and adaptation: native title claim in the South West of Western Australia. "Evolving humanity, emerging worlds" - The 17th World Congress of the IUAES, The International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES), Aug 2013, Manchester, United Kingdom. ⟨halshs-00851729⟩



Record views