Strengthening Noongar culture through the commercial development of cultural lands (south west of Western Australia)?

Abstract : To settle their land claim out of Courts, the Aboriginal Noongars of the South West of Western Australia, represented by the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea council (SWALSC), engaged in official negotiations with the State of Western Australia. More than the symbolic recognition of their land rights the legal process could grant them, negotiating an agreement had the potential to deliver concrete outcomes. Should the agreement be ratified, up to 320,000 hectares of cultural and development land would notably be divested to the Noongars to form a Noongar land estate. The Noongars would decide how to manage these lands through the Noongar governance system that would be set up as part of the agreement. They would have the possibility to convert more cultural land into development land and decide what commercial ventures to establish. I propose to present what “cultural land” and “development land” mean in this context and examine the conflicting discourses that the commercial development of cultural lands generates. SWALSC defends it as an essential move to trigger the Noongars’ social, economic and political betterment and assure them a place in the Australian “modern” society, which in turn would enable them to strengthen their “culture”. On the contrary, some Noongar dissidents denounce it as the selling of their culture and customary lands. The implementation of that commercialization will therefore depend upon SWALSC’s capacity to rally the Noongars behind its vision.
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Contributor : Virginie Bernard <>
Submitted on : Monday, June 24, 2019 - 3:00:26 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 25, 2019 - 1:45:44 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-02163693, version 1



Virginie Bernard. Strengthening Noongar culture through the commercial development of cultural lands (south west of Western Australia)?. Experiencing Pacific Environments – 11th ESfO Conference, Jun 2017, Munich, Germany. ⟨halshs-02163693⟩



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