The importance of being exceptional to face the Indigenous Land Corporation: the struggle of two Aboriginal Noongars of the Australian South West

Abstract : While the Aboriginal Noongars are trying to legally obtain the recognition of their Native Title over their territory in the South-West of Western Australia, several Noongar families have turned to the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC), an organisation intended to redress the dispossession of Aboriginals by helping them to acquire and manage private lands. In both cases, the Noongars find themselves confronted to the antagonistic definitions of “tradition” and “modernity” that the Australian State constructs, conceives as realities – not as mere representations – and imposes on them. But, unlike the Native Title legal proceedings where they have to prove their “authenticity”, the Noongar families dealing with the ILC have instead to prove their “modernity”. Indeed, through their economic integration, the ILC seeks to break its Aboriginal beneficiaries out of their “traditions”, which are thought to be an obstacle to their participation in the neoliberal economy The organisation requires them to demonstrate economic, managerial and bureaucratic skills, always more numerous and complex. But despite the efforts and willingness that these Noongars deploy and the expertise that some of them sometimes demonstrate, the ILC constantly denies them access to this “modernity” by referring them to their “traditions”. Taking the example of two of my Noongar interlocutors, I will show how these two notions dissolve in their ways of conceiving their contemporary identity and place in the Australian society and how they find creative ways of undermining this artificial dichotomy. We will see that their particular life courses have set them as exceptions within their families and allowed them to reshape and bypass the demands of the ILC to accommodate their needs and desires. While these two Noongars prompt the ILC into trying to reinforce its requirements and rules to maintain its definition of Aboriginality, they also challenge the norms of the organisation.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02163659
Contributor : Virginie Bernard <>
Submitted on : Monday, June 24, 2019 - 2:48:32 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 25, 2019 - 1:45:39 AM

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  • HAL Id : halshs-02163659, version 1

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Virginie Bernard. The importance of being exceptional to face the Indigenous Land Corporation: the struggle of two Aboriginal Noongars of the Australian South West. L'Exeption - 59e congrès de la SAES, Jun 2019, Aix-en-Provence, France. ⟨halshs-02163659⟩

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