Unsettling anthropology: The demands of native title on worn concepts and changing lives


This collection arose from a workshop for anthropologists in July 2010, Turning the Tide: Anthropology for Native Title in South-East Australia. Held at Sydney University and co-convened by the University of Sydney and the Native Title Research Unit, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, the workshop addressed issues of native title anthropology in what is often referred to as ‘settled’ Australia. In these areas, native title - as a form of justice and recognition for indigenous peoples - has proven a particularly frustrating experience. The title of the workshop recalled the various Yorta Yorta native title decisions in Victoria, and Olney J’s quoting of Justice Brennan in Mabo (No 2) (1992, at [60]): ‘when the tide of history has washed away any real acknowledgement of traditional law and any real observance of traditional customs, the foundation of native title has disappeared’ (Members of the Yorta Yorta Aboriginal Community v Victoria & Ors 1998).

This book deals in particular with the challenge for anthropologists of modelling the connection of native title claimants to their land in ways that fit the adversarial process of native title, especially regarding 'settled' Australia.

Last reviewed: 18 Jul 2017