This panel invites papers that investigate contemporary engagements between policies, bureaucracies, commercial entities and Indigenous interests with a view to stimulating discussion about the social intents and impacts of the government regulation of Indigenous place-based heritage.
Every year thousands of places of significance to Indigenous Australians are threatened by development, their fates negotiated within a complex array of policy assemblages. In a regulatory environment characterised by poor accountability and uneven power relationships, many newly identified Indigenous heritage places are subsequently legally impacted shortly after documentation in order to make way for other interests. The level of authorised destruction of heritage sites is such that it has been identified as one of the leading threats currently facing Australia's Indigenous heritage estate (Schnierer et. al. 2011). Conflict between those who consent to development and those who don't is increasingly reported, exacerbated by the 'all-or-nothing' choice facing traditional owners in the absence of a right to veto development projects, even on native title lands. The sense of an impending cultural crisis palpable as traditional owners around the country express anxieties about the social consequences of mining and exploration projects and the extent to which they are contributing to an erasure of the historical presence of Indigenous people from the landscape. Contributions to this panel examine the social intents and impacts of Indigenous heritage management regimes and other policy work in which traditional owner groups and their advocates are embedded and the burdens these place on them, and explores how they are strategically responding to them in order to leverage local social and economic objectives.