7th Distinguished Lecture in Anthropology ~ Native Title: Implications for Australian Senses of Place and Belonging

Professor David Trigger, University of Queensland and University of Western Australia

with discussants

Mr Kevin Smith, CEO, Queensland South Native Title Services and Professor Tim Rowse, Western Sydney University

Native title in Australia is a significant issue for Indigenous claimants but also for the wider society. Much debate occurs about achievements and frustrations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups seeking recognition of traditional connections to land. There is less discussion of cultural implications for other Australians with lengthy settler family histories, migrant backgrounds from many countries, and recently arrived aspirations to make this nation their home.

Issues arising include whether there are lessons for Australia beyond addressing the legal claims of Indigenous people.

  • Are senses of place and heritage values in the land sharpened through awareness of Indigenous connections?
  • Are some sectors of the society better positioned than others to learn from native title engagements with places of cultural and historical significance?
  • Does contemporary urban life, replete with mobility, work against development of intimate personal links with physical and social spaces?
  • Does it require residence over generations to produce place identification that is deeply embedded in the worldviews and personalities of residents?

Anthropology as a social science has a substantial and important practical research role in native title negotiations. However, a further challenge is how to bring a broader societal appreciation of the kinds of place significance that are central to Indigenous claims. Can native title, across remote, rural and urban settings, complement and overlap with current and future Australian senses of belonging?

This is to explore a form of cultural coexistence that is potentially in tension with a sharp and mutually exclusive categorical distinction between those who embrace ‘indigenous’ identity and others. Can such cultural co-existence reinforce legal and economic achievements of land justice for the Indigenous minority yet also contribute to rich senses of place and belonging across the broader Australian society?

All welcome, free admission.

Register your attendance here: www.aas.asn.au/aas-distinguished-lecture/

About the speaker: 

David Trigger is Professor of Anthropology at The University of Queensland and Adjunct Professor at The University of Western Australia. He is the Principal Partner in David S Trigger & Associates consulting anthropologists. His research interests encompass the different meanings attributed to land and nature across diverse sectors of society. His research on Australian society includes projects focused on a comparison of pro-development, environmentalist and Aboriginal perspectives on land and nature. His most recent works address senses of historical place that both overlap and diverge for people of diverse ancestries in northern Australia. In Australian Aboriginal Studies, Professor Trigger has carried out more than 35 years of anthropological study on Indigenous systems of land tenure, including applied research on resource development negotiations and native title. He is the author of more than 60 major applied research reports and has acted as an expert witness in multiple native title claims and associated matters involving Aboriginal customary law. Professor Trigger is the author of Whitefella comin’: Aboriginal responses to colonialism in northern Australia (Cambridge University Press) and a wide range of scholarly articles.