Structure and Agency in Indigenous Australia: A Case Study of Resource Development in the Gulf of Carpentaria

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Recent research undertaken on the role of the state in a particular resource development project in Northern Australia involving Indigenous people revealed Indigenous agency to be a crucial determining factor throughout the negotiation period. While structural forces ultimately prevailed in this particular instance of resource development and the mineral deposit was eventually developed against the wishes of the majority of Indigenous people in the region,their agency proved a critical factor throughout the negotiation period. This study examines the dialectical relationship between structure and agency in mineral development negotiation processes and argues that Indigenous agency is a crucial explanatory variable that needs further investigation.


Keywords: Indigenous, Structure, Agency
Stream: Sociology, Geography
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Catherine Howlett

Lecturer, Environment, Griffith University
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

I am currently lecturing in Anthropology and Development studies at Griffith University in the School of the Environment. My research focus is on the political economy aspects of resource development in Indigenous domains, with a distinct emphasis on developing appropriate theoretical explanations of the relationship between Indigenous Australians and the Australian state in relation to resource development.

Ref: I08P0656