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The Postcolonial ContemporaryPolitical Imaginaries for the Global Present$
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Jini Kim Watson and Gary Wilder

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823280063

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823280063.001.0001

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Goolarabooloo Futures: Mining and Aborigines in Northwest Australia

Goolarabooloo Futures: Mining and Aborigines in Northwest Australia

(p.208) Nine: Goolarabooloo Futures: Mining and Aborigines in Northwest Australia
The Postcolonial Contemporary

Stephen Muecke

Fordham University Press

In our apparently postcolonial age, colonization is proceeding apace in Goolarabooloo country near Broome in Western Australia where sovereignty has never been ceded, and no treaty ratified. The colonial ‘settler’ economy was established in the late 19th century with the pearling and pastoral industries, but today it is multinational mining companies (‘extraction colonialism’) that are extending their reach with the urging of the State government and even some Aboriginal agencies. This ethnographic study describes two ‘worlds’: Those (the ‘Moderns’) who like to see themselves as ‘naturally’ extending the territory of a universalist modernity via their institutions of science and technology, governmental organisation, the law and the economy. Under scrutiny, this world turns out to be less robust institutionally and conceptually than it pretends to be; it operates with fantasies, blunders, poor planning, little negotiation and waste. Often it works, but in the instance of the four-year struggle between Woodside Energy and the Goolarabooloo, the latter was able to resist the former’s desire to build a liquefied gas plant on their traditional land. Woodside and its partners left with billions of dollars wasted in the effort. The ‘world’ of the Indigenous Goolarabooloo is the second group of institutions my extended ethnography will describe.

Keywords:   Aborigines, Australia, Colonialism, Mining, Latour, Taussig

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