Accepted paper:

Collaborations of Biocultural Hope: The Fight for James Price Point, Western Australia (2009-2013)


Carsten Wergin (Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg)

Paper short abstract:

The paper presents the successful opposition movement against the construction of a $45 billion AUD liquefied natural gas facility as a scenario of biocultural hope in an 'overheating' world.

Paper long abstract:

The paper presents the successful opposition movement of a localized community against the construction of a $45 Billion AUD Liquefied Natural Gas Facility (LNG) 50km north of the Australian tourist town of Broome, on the Indian Ocean coast. From March 2012 to May 2013, my family and I spent 15 months of fieldwork in the West Kimberley and enquired about the different 'worlds' (Muecke) that came together to oppose this large-scale industrial development in a culturally and environmentally sensitive area called James Price Point/Walmadany. The worlds we encountered included those of Aboriginal traditional owners, environmentalists, casual travellers and tourists, businessmen, artists, politicians and influential media representatives, but also those of international business executives and a state government following the neoliberal doctrine of profit maximization. I discuss how indigenous knowledge helped to align these worlds in a collective opposition to the industrialization project that was to be superimposed on the community. The shared attachment to Aboriginal 'living country' led to new alliances between groups who might previously contest their authorities of speaking for or even being 'on country'. Those were not implemented from above but derived from an acknowledgement of the 'particularities of place' (Escobar). In light of this, I argue that development and reconciliation might be conceived of differently in Australia: not as modernist projects of economic opportunity, but as ecological projects of biocultural hope that take indigenous knowledge seriously.

panel P002
Economies of growth or ecologies of survival? Fear and hope in an overheated world