This event is the joint initiative of the Urban Geography Study Group and the Indigenous Peoples’ Knowledges and Rights Study Group of the Institution of Australian Geographers.
The Urban Theory Symposium series aims to:
Our pursuit of these goals in Decolonising Settler Cities is only possible through mutual learning and reflexivity. The partnership, presence and contribution of Indigenous practitioners and academics who are engaging with urban issues is essential, and dialogue needs to occur with a range of groups who are focussed on issues of justice and healing for Indigenous Australians. Mutual learning through dialogue is the basis for participants’ reflexive practice through which we can interrogate our own blind spots and work towards more sophisticated, informed and just understandings and perspectives.
Professor Tony Birch
Renowned academic, novelist and educator and inaugural recipient of the Dr Bruce McGuinness Indigenous Research Fellowship at Victoria University.
The lands on which Australian urban centres continue to be built are located on the unceded territories of distinct, sovereign Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who continue to exert and practice their laws, cultures, rights and interests. Beyond such broad recognition statements as this, there has been remarkably little effort made to figure out what this means and how this acknowledgement fundamentally unsettles the categories and knowledges by which we claim to understand the Australian city.
Decolonising Settler Cities seeks to create a space to talk about issues that are difficult to define, but are also essential for justice and our collective futures. While it is clear that urban areas in settler colonial countries have always been Indigenous, the implications of this understanding for the future of our cities is unclear. We invite scholars and practitioners to share their questions and critiques, experience and knowledge of decolonising possibilities and obstacles in urban locations. Our hope is to find ways to think through and beyond ‘whitestream’ categories of knowing, thinking and imagining the Australian city, and appropriately centre Indigenous experiences, theories, knowledge and perspectives.
We are particularly interested in perspectives that draw on contemporary Indigenous experiences and knowledge to unsettle the categories that underlie urban governance and often make Indigenous peoples’ aspirations impossible to achieve. These categories include but are not limited to property, health, development, education, work and family. The corollary of this negative set of experiences is the way that Indigenous Australians find ways to claim rights, practice culture, enact laws and act in their interests in urban locations. These are the practices of Indigenous urban citizenship.
We invite participants to contact us with a short statement explaining their interest in participating. For those participants wanting to make a presentation, please indicate the topic area and the type of medium (whether a paper, film, performance, reading, or another format). We welcome approaches from people with a variety of backgrounds, experiences and expertise. Decolonising Settler Cities will have a limited number of speakers and will seek a diverse set of presenters with a large Indigenous presence.
Our guiding principle for the symposium is to practice ways that support a decolonising politics by:
Decolonising Settler Cities is strongly committed to supporting Indigenist research approaches. Indigenist research provides the basis for understanding the lived experiences (narratives) of Indigenous people which “are powerful instruments by which to measure equality and social justice” (Rigney, 1999, p. 116). Indigenist research begins by “centring Aboriginal ways of knowing, ways of being, and ways of doing, in alignment with aspects of western qualitative research frameworks” (Martin, 2003, p. 12). By beginning with and foregrounding an Indigenous worldview, Indigenist research addresses the trap of appropriating “the cultural knowledge and experiences of their Indigenous participants, and then, using the theoretical frameworks of Western knowledge” reinterpreting those experiences and presenting them as their own (Wright, 2011, p. 28). The expectations and constraints of research must be informed by and respectful of Indigenous world views to be capable of contributing to the shared project of decolonisation.
Submissions due (300 words): 1 June 2017
Notification of acceptance: 15 June 2017
Materials (whether film, paper, photographs, art work or something else) due: 17 July 2017
The materials will be circulated before the symposium. We will discuss publication of papers and other materials at the symposium.
Please email your submissions to either Tod Jones at Curtin University (T.Jones@curtin.edu.au) or Libby Porter at RMIT (firstname.lastname@example.org). And if you have any questions, please let us know. We are happy to work directly with you if you would like assistance with abstracts or accessing information for your presentation.
Conference date and location: 26-27 September 2017, Perth Australia