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University of Melbourne (2008)

A political ecology of Warlpiri water rights : a denial of access and land alienation to perennial water sources on leased lands in the Western Desert

Watts, Lisa Patricia

Titre : A political ecology of Warlpiri water rights : a denial of access and land alienation to perennial water sources on leased lands in the Western Desert

Auteur : Watts, Lisa Patricia

Université de soutenance : University of Melbourne

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2008

Résumé
This thesis analyses an environmental conflict over water in the 20th century and the radical land and water transitions of the Western Desert, Australia. It investigates the direction and causes of environmental change through exploring both customary and statutory Warlpiri water rights. An ethnographic analysis of Warlpiri spiritual and cultural values of water shows that Warlpiri traditional knowledge ensured the sustainable management of their water sources. However this thesis argues that Warlpiri knowledge on sustainable land and water management continues to be ignored by the Western System. Contrasted with European production and consumption values, there are racially opposed worldviews on water management approaches in this arid environment. These pose major threats to sustainability. European land and water transitions emerged in the early 20th century, in which political and legal influences led to a water rights framework that ensured lessees’ exclusive control of water sources and alienated Warlpiri people to the driest parts of the region. This analysis interweaves two underlying themes that underpin the lack of protection of Warlpiri water rights : land alienation and denial of access to perennial water sources on leased lands.
The thesis explores the biophysical and socio-cultural consequences of the lack of protection of Warlpiri water rights. This is explained through social processes influencing environmental change : the decline in Aboriginal land management practices, the absence of Aboriginal presence on pastoral leases, legal and political precedence given to lessees, their open grazing management practices and the proliferation of artificial watering points. These are suggested as some of the causes of land degradation and the marginalisation of the Warlpiri. The thesis provides counter narratives on the historical and cultural context of Warlpiri water rights that incorporates both traditional and modern frameworks, underwritten by a Warlpiri social movement that is trying to ensure the protection of rights. The emergence of a Warlpiri social movement opposing unsustainable livelihoods and productivism, is now part of a post-productivist transition. The reinvigoration of a Warlpiri social movement in the new millennium has emerged through scholarship and the engaged practices of political ecology. A political ecological critique of Warlpiri water rights shows that their protection is critical to the sustainable management of Western Desert water sources. This emerging water management transition converges racially opposed worldviews that draw on both Warlpiri and Western knowledge systems and diverse belief systems to achieve economic, social and environmental sustainability.

Mots clés : Walbiri ; Australian people ; social life ; customs ; land tenure ; Aboriginal Australians ; central Australia ; claims ; water rights ; Australia ; water resources development ; law ; legislation ; native title ; water spirits ; political ecology ; sustainable living ; Warlpiri water mythology maps ; Jukurrpa ; Pikilyi movement

Présentation

Page publiée le 29 décembre 2014, mise à jour le 15 juillet 2017