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Wrap-up and discussion

Ian Keen, anthropologist, 10 November 2009

IAN KEEN: I’m not going to try and make a comprehensive summing up, but I’ll just make a few points, with a view just of raising the issue of publication. I mean, an important outcome of the conference, of course, has been putting people in touch with each other, who have been working in related areas but not fully aware of each other’s work. There’s been a lot of chat during the breaks. So that, no doubt, has been a really useful feature of the conference, as well as the very stimulating papers. I think there’s been quite a useful juxtaposition between the theoretical models and analyses, on the one hand, with which we began – particularly the hybrid economy model – then of course other models arose during the sessions on the one hand, and then empirical studies on the other, with important implications for both.

Other connections which really interested me are those between research and practice in a variety of ways. Papers from those involved in enterprises, and their perspectives on those, on the one hand, and implications of academic analyses for policy and practice, but policy and practice of a wide variety of kinds. I won’t pick out particular papers, but that’s been a general theme; not least in these final papers on art practice. Although, we haven’t heard from government perspectives, have we, I think.

An exciting dimension for me has been the historical range, from the early colonial times up to the present moment, pretty much, and the very broad spectrum of industries and complex kind of communities, policies, nuances of intra- and inter-cultural relativeness. So that diversity has been very rich.

Within the broad theme of hybrid economy, which has come up quite a lot, we’ve heard about adaptations of Indigenous systems, such as were known to changing external conditions on the one hand, versus on the other, from John White, the bringing of settlers into Indigenous relationships; so that kind of interplay. The power of differentials between and within sectors have been a theme as well, cast by Deirdre Tedmanson, for example, in terms of governmentality. So that’s been a rather kind of rich framework through these sessions.

Macro structures have been contra-posed with narratives of particular individuals in a really interesting way, whose lives have been located across sectors of the hybrid economy. For example, he wasn’t the only one, but Albert Namatjira, that case study; there’ve been other case studies too.

And by particular resources, the most charming of which I suppose have been the camels. They became an obsession, which was very nice. I wasn’t so keen on the camp dog, actually; I wouldn’t want that dog in my camp, I might say. [laughs] Looked very fierce.

We touched on important aspects of Indigenous subjectivities as well; partly through the concept of life projects in Diane Austin-Broos’ paper, and their conditions. And somewhat, although not very much, on non-Indigenous subjectivities, in their interactions with Indigenous people.

The big moral issue of course has been wages, which brings in questions of social justice in relation to Indigenous participation in the economy, and not just in the narrowly colonial era.

Date published: 28 June 2010