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University of New South Wales Australie (2000)

Outback or at home ? : environment, social change and pastoralism in Central Australia

Gill, Nicholas

Titre : Outback or at home ? : environment, social change and pastoralism in Central Australia

Auteur : Gill, Nicholas

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy PhD 2000

Université de soutenance : University of New South Wales - Australian Defence Force Academy. School of Geography and Oceanography

Résumé
This thesis examines the responses of non-indigenous pastoralists in Central Australian rangelands to two social movements that profoundly challenge their occupancy, use and management of land. Contemporary environmentalism and Aboriginal land rights have both challenged the status of pastoralists as valued primary producers and bearers of a worthy pioneer heritage. Instead, pastoralists have become associated with land degradation, biodiversity loss, and Aboriginal dispossession. Such pressure has intensified in the 1990s in the wake of the native Title debate, and various conservation campaigns in the arid and semi-arid rangelands. The pressure on pastoralists occur in the context of wider reassessment of the social and economic values or rangelands in which pastoralism is seen as having declined in value compared to ‘post-production’ land uses. Reassessments of rangelands in turn are part of the global changes in the status of rural areas, and of the growing flexibility in the very meaning of ‘rural’. Through ethnographic fieldwork among largely non-indigenous pastoralists in Central Australia, this thesis investigates the nature and foundations of pastoralists’ responses to these changes and critiques. Through memory, history, labour and experience of land, non-indigenous pastoralists construct a narrative of land, themselves and others in which the presence of pastoralism in Central Australia is naturalised, and Central Australia is narrated as an inherently pastoral landscape. Particular types of environmental knowledge and experience, based in actual environmental events and processes form the foundation for a discourse of pastoral property rights. Pastoralists accommodate environmental concerns, through advocating environmental stewardship. They do this in such a way that Central Australia is maintained as a singularly pastoral landscape, and one in which a European, or ‘white’, frame of reference continues to dominate. In this way the domesticated pastoral landscapes of colonialism and nationalism are reproduced. The thesis also examines Aboriginal pastoralism as a distinctive form of pastoralism, which fulfils distinctly Aboriginal land use and cultural aspirations, and undermines the conventional meaning of ‘pastoralism’ itself. The thesis ends by suggesting that improved dialogue over rangelands futures depends on greater understanding of the details and complexities of local relationships between groups of people, and between people and land.

Mots clés : Aboriginal land rights • pastoralists • pastoralism • pastoral settlement • land use • rural • Central Australia • environmental aspects • environment • environmentalism • mythic landscapes • cultural politics • colonialism • soil conservation • non indigenous • indigenous • ecology • cattle • landcare • history • outback • variability • rangelands

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