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A treaty that dares not speak its name: The Noongar Agreement in the Australian South West

Abstract : In Australia, there is a gap between, on the one hand, the apparent willingness of the state to recognize the Indigenous Australians and the legal and institutional measures that seem to abound in this sense and, on the other hand, the mechanisms of control that it puts in place to refuse claims for recognition. As a liberal state, it privileges the rights of individuals and is wary of the international legal category of “Indigenous peoples” and its possible repercussions at the national level. Indeed, this category confers on the peoples claiming it the status of legal personalities and grants them collective rights which are the responsibility of states. The Australian state notably perceives the right to self-determination as likely to open the way to independence movements and refuses any idea of a treaty. In this context, to settle their native title claims and assert their place in the mainstream Australian society, the Aborigines Noongars of the South West of Western Australia stand aside, in their majority, from the international discourses on indigeneity and claims to a treaty. Instead, they have negotiated a comprehensive agreement with the State of Western Australia. This presentation aims to demonstrate that this agreement is a treaty that dares not say its name. It will show that the Noongars have defended the idea of a Noongar Nation, an Alter/Native space within the Australian nation, articulating the principle of “internal” sovereignty to reframe their relationship with the Australian state. They have fashioned a noongar identity according to the general criteria that characterize the category of “Indigenous peoples” and claim the same rights it accords.
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Conference papers
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02472162
Contributor : Virginie Bernard <>
Submitted on : Monday, February 10, 2020 - 9:29:44 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, February 11, 2020 - 1:42:46 AM

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  • HAL Id : halshs-02472162, version 1

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Virginie Bernard. A treaty that dares not speak its name: The Noongar Agreement in the Australian South West. Alter/Native Spaces – EASA Conference, Sep 2019, Toulon, France. ⟨halshs-02472162⟩

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