Questions of Value: Tourism and the Resources Boom

By Carsten Wergin and Stephen Muecke

© all rights reserved.

In Australia, mining and tourism promise economic and social benefits for the nation-state. At the same time, these industries seem to short-change the desires, beliefs, politics and aspirations operating at a local community level. The vast economic value that mining and tourism generates competes in a complex way with the expression of social, cultural and political values. In terms of economic value, mining generates enormous wealth for shareholders, corporations and governments. Tourism too can generate much wealth for governments, corporate operators and smaller businesses. However, in doing so, both mining and tourism run the risk of undermining the actual and potential diversity of local economies.

A central problem is that mining companies seem to proceed on the assumption that tacit social contracts are less important than a company’s legal entitlement to set up industry. And, more often than not the social value of mining bears little resemblance to the effects of resource extraction and profiteering. In comparison to mining, tourism may promise more environmentally and socially sustainable outcomes. However, even community-based tourism can produce contradictory effects, if only through tourism’s tendency to perpetuate pre-packaged or romanticized images of peoples and places.

This special section ‘Songlines vs. Pipelines? Mining and Tourism in Remote Australia’ is concerned with the conflicts between mining and tourism and is especially focused on how these industries’ diverging values and development strategies have turned into a ‘wicked problem’ for many communities. The mining boom in remote Australia sees leisure tourism competing against a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workforce for limited accommodation and flights, and in a way that dramatically affects demographics and everyday life in these places. This special section explores in new ways the transformative effects of these industrial changes.1 The papers collected here question the relationship between resource extraction and tourism economies in order to open up wider discussions about the socio-political, cultural and societal role the mining boom plays in remote communities in Australia.

The ‘triple crises’ in global finance, climate change and oil consumption have affected most economies worldwide (Papatheodorou et al.). Nevertheless, since the Global Finance Crisis (GFC), Australia has managed economic stability and even growth. This is due to large-scale exploitation of resources such as bauxite, coal, iron ore, oil, uranium and natural gas that has met a strong demand from countries with fast-growing economies, particularly China. As a result, the value of the Australian dollar has risen over the past three years from about 0.5 to 0.8 Euro. Consequently, export-dependent sectors other than mining, notably the Australian tourism industry, suffer from what in economics was identified as ‘Dutch disease’ in the late 1970s. For tourism this problem is twofold: 1) Tourists don’t travel to Australia because it has become increasingly expensive to do so, which results in a decline in international tourism; and 2) people living in Australia prefer to travel abroad, to destinations such as Bali or the Philippines that are comparatively cheaper than tourist sites within the country, which results in further decline in domestic tourism.

All sectors of the tourism and service industries are affected by resource extraction economies. Aviation, food services and accommodation providers have benefited from the significant increase in business tourism, but struggle to keep up quality and staff numbers as it becomes difficult to compete against wages offered by the mining sector. Other parts of the tourism sector that might value other than purely monetary or profit-driven gains, such as Indigenous, environmental and heritage enterprises, experience considerable pressures. Such enterprises are linked to values ‘embedded’ in particular locales and their residents. Resource extraction also has implications for thinking about ‘country’, a word that now signifies a diverse cross-section of Indigenous cultures and peoples that are vulnerable to major transformations that accompany large-scale mining and changes to the tourist industry. . The papers collected in this special section attend to this topic and take account of Indigenous culture’s radically different values and approach to ‘country’.

‘Songlines vs. Pipelines?’ thus explores contestations over value as a ‘wicked problem’ for social science research and policy makers. The values involved are attached to the weight and force of masses of fungible commodities, technical and financial infrastructures and the human resources of whole sectors of the population. The problem is wicked because of the momentum of all this; it cannot be solved by one or two policy decisions alone. For example, the iconic image of a beach, of clean yellow sands and a spectacular (and free of charge) sunset, is of undeniable value to locals and tourists, but might find itself in competition with a heavy industry whose pollution can make the beach plummet in value.

On the other hand, the mining industry is claiming to ‘generate’ further wealth and new jobs. In such situations a lot of time and effort is ‘spent’ determining stakeholders, some of whom are non-human, like rivers or whales, and have advocates speaking on their behalf and carrying out negotiations (see Muir, this section). These terms are, on one hand, ostensibly negotiable; for instance stakeholders might question the validity of ‘triple bottom line accounting’ or ‘public sector full cost accounting’ over industry-provided figures. Yet different stakeholders often represent particular concerns or partisan politics or social values (whether scientific, political, economic, legal or cultural), as Traditional Owners may document a sacred site, scientists may explain the role of whales in an ecosystem, and economists may calculate the value of tax revenue for all. There is a strong need, therefore, for rigorous scholarly engagement with a problem that is of major national significance. It has therefore been our aim here to bring together the work of academic experts whose papers might stimulate further critical and informed debates about the impact of mining in remote Australia on tourism, culture and community.

Tourism and Australia: A Brief Outline and Value Assessment
People have always travelled to see different landscapes and experience other cultures, languages and cuisines. The word ‘tourist’ was first used only in 1772, and the word ‘tourism’ in 1811, to describe such activity. Commercial travel for leisure purposes was first associated with the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the United Kingdom—the first European country to promote leisure time to its growing population of industrial workers, as travel became a more affordable option for the average person. Tourism’s origins can thus be located in the origins of industrial development, and tourism has itself become one of the world’s most important industries.

According to Scott Lash and John Urry, innovators for the expansion of the tourism industry such as Thomas Cook are as important to modern cultural production as well recognised figures such as Henry Ford. This new mobile world created markets where there were none, and created a world that could be known in advance before one travelled. Tourism is therefore central to today’s global articulation of different flows of people, work, capital and ideas (Bauman, Cresswell and Merriman). It is one of the major forces transforming space (Coleman and Crang), and stands as one of the preferred economic development policies around the globe (UNWTO).

About 40 years ago, there was a scholarly turn, especially in social sciences, to the importance of tourism. This can be seen in such cornerstone works as Dean MacCannell’s The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class (1976) that theorised tourism as a postindustrial search for truth and a ‘staged authenticity’ (MacCannell, ‘Staged Authenticity’). Such a classic theory of tourism takes on a different resonance in a contemporary context in which powerful mining companies influence mainstream and other representations of their industry. We are also seeing mining companies intervene in local politics in exploitative ways, even to the extent of effecting restrictions on land rights claims.2

The Commonwealth of Australia came into being after the emergence of tourism and tourism remains an important part of its national economy. The spectacles of Australian landscapes and of iconic aspects of everyday life in blockbuster films, from Crocodile Dundee (1986) to Baz Luhrmann’s Australia (2008), suggest the importance of Australia as a tourist destination and as an industry. In 2008-2009, Australia had 5.6 million international arrivals, 34.3% more than 10 years before (Euromonitor). The trend rate of growth, however, fell away in the last few years, due to the spread of risky diseases such SARS and bird flu, oil price rises, the collapse of some major domestic airline carriers, the Bali bombings, and increased geopolitical tension. Furthermore, the aforementioned high exchange value of the Australian dollar has had a negative impact on its international tourism market (Assaf et al. 166-67).

However, even today, tourism remains of great significance within the Australian economy. Tourism’s total contribution to Australia’s GDP in 2010-11 was $73 billion, constituting 5.2% of its economy. In addition, tourism employed 907,100 persons, both directly and indirectly, representing 7.9% of Australia’s total employment. Domestic visitors took over 71 million overnight trips and 161 million day trips in 2011 (Australian Government). Also in 2011, 5.9 million international visitors arrived in Australia. While most international markets remained stable or declined, the number of visitors from China grew by 19.5% and from India by 6.9%. Tourism also continues to play a key role in the development of regional and rural areas where 46% of the tourist dollar in Australia is spent. As such, it is of considerable importance to many of Australia’s regional communities (TRA 1).

Of interest on an international level is the diversity of niche markets in which Australia is enmeshed (Davidson and Spearritt). Niche markets that are of particular relevance to remote regions in Australia include sustainable, heritage and cultural tourism. Many of Australia’s heritage assets are located in regional areas and cultural tourism contributes significantly to economic growth but also to social policy in these places (CRC, Economic Value). Since 2006 the number of domestic overnight cultural and heritage visitors has grown by 11%, while total domestic overnight visits remained flat over the same period. In 2007, 10.9 million domestic overnight visitors participated in cultural or heritage activities and 10.4 million in domestic day visits. Tourism WA states that:

Heritage tourism has the potential to considerably improve the economic vitality of numerous Western Australian communities, broaden the state’s tourism base and improve awareness, appreciation and conservation of our physical and intangible heritage.3

The focus here on ‘awareness, appreciation and conservation’ suggests that tourism has become a sign of embodied connections with people, locales and landscapes that are otherwise unquantifiable. If tourism started as leisure and escape from work, everyday burdens, problems and responsibilities, it has diversified in more recent years to include philanthropic work—the visiting of socially troubled places in order to ‘do ‘good’, now known as volunteer tourism. Tourists might invest in artworks that ensure a continued existence to markers of Aboriginal presence. Or, tourists might attend Aboriginal cultural tours that introduce people to food, stories, or particular sites of historical and cultural significance.

Environmentalists have long seen the opportunities that such forms of exchange might encourage for developing longer lasting communal relationships and for encouraging cheaper forms of tourism (see Vincent in this issue).

While new tourism initiatives, especially environmental and cultural tourism enterprises, can help Indigenous communities and people, they can also be criticised for perpetuating romantic or pre-packaged stereotypes. Similarly, heritage tours to ‘birthplaces of the oil industry’ see tourists visiting ghost towns that have been turned into heritage sites and museums. Such tourist ventures run the risk of recycling colonialist myths, including misrepresentations of violence wrecked on Indigenous people (see Che in this issue).

It is therefore important to note that tourism is far more than a local economic activity. It is also a system that exists in relation to other systems (political, economic, and social) and has the ability to organise the world through interactions with these systems (Franklin). It is also not just related to people who travel for leisure, since mobility has become a normal part of everyday life (Hepburn). Tourism can thus help to ‘shape and mediate our knowledge of and desires about the rest of the planet’ (Franklin and Crang 10).

Tourism has also proven to be a highly resilient and adaptable activity. This can be seen in areas, once known as war or disaster zones, that have since been transformed into tourist sites (Beirman). Some examples of ‘post-disaster’ tourism include the Ho Chi Minh path of genocide, and concentration camps in Germany and Poland. Others include plantations in Mauritius and pearling industry sites in Broome where slavery or forced labour took place. Less controversially, a former mine in Katoomba (in the Blue Mountains region of NSW) has been transformed into a ‘Scenic World’ park. This is another example of an ex-industrial site now valorised as a lucrative tourist attraction.

The connection between Indigenous people and country, and how this relates to tourism imaginaries in Australia, is another point of discussion. The desire to travel to distant parts of the world, such as remote Australian regions like the Kimberley, is often stimulated by a wish to experience extraordinary places, both natural and cultural, UNESCO-approved or not. In any settler and/or postcolonial society, such heritage is a complex and contested topic. Heritage sites as tourism sites have various dimensions in Australia, from wilderness areas to different uses of historical prison complexes. UNESCO Heritage Listings include the Sydney Opera House, Convict Sites, and Nature Reserves. Such destinations are places where global and local processes and trends come together (Gordon and Goodall 292; also Neveling and Wergin). Within this ‘production of space’, institutional practices and processes shape destinations in different ways through a discourse of ‘active’ developmental purposes (Lefebvre; Merrifield). In Australia, such institutional practices also involve a specific geo-political construction of ‘White Australia’ that was shaped in the bureaucratic minds of strategists located very much in the southeast of the country (Jones and Shaw).

Successful tourist destinations are generally those places that evoke a sense of make-believe or promise experiences ‘far from the ordinary’ (Gibson and Connell 260). While often romanticised, Indigenous cultural heritage has played, in Australia, a significant role in tourism and this industry may be under considerable threat from the mining resource boom.

Tourism and the Resource Boom: Australia’s ‘Dutch Disease’
As noted above, despite the global triple crisis, the Australian economy has managed stability and even growth. Mining has been of central importance in this regard as resource extraction booms have repeatedly dominated the country’s economy. In September 2012, Australian owner of Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd, Gina Rinehart became the richest woman in the world. Her company’s fortune was built on mining claims discovered in the Pilbara, including the world’s largest iron ore deposit.4 According to the BBC, Rinehart’s wealth increases by approximately AUD$600 every second. While the wealth of mining magnates continues to increase substantially, the wellbeing of local communities and locales often seems to diminish. While mining developments of the nineteenth and early twentieth century meant the construction of new towns and homes for miners and their families, the fact that the current boom is dominated by a FIFO workforce has had often destructive effects.

As a result, regions affected by mining develop two-speed economies, with mining on the fast end and all other local economies on the slow end. The Gold Rushes of the nineteenth century were able to lure thousands of individuals to the Australian goldfields with the hope of ‘striking it rich’, something no longer possible now, except in odd cases on the opal fields where tourism also dominates. ‘Marvellous Melbourne’ was the city built on such individual gold strikes, as wealth stayed in the community and helped to create the basis of a developing city.

It is not so clear that mining companies such as Woodside, Buru or Rio Tinto will bring wealth and/or job creation, or that it will be beneficial for local communities through, for example, funding initiatives and educational programs. This may prove particularly problematic for Indigenous people who often figure highly in unemployment, alcohol and other drug abuse, domestic violence and crime statistics, all of which have been a feature of life in remote parts of Australia (although Carrington et al. in this issue problematise the relative visibility of crime in Indigenous communities). Despite the expressed need, on behalf of government and other community representatives, to improve social wellbeing in those regions, only an estimated 0.5% of mining profits are in fact allocated to Indigenous people. At the same time, the mining industry is estimated to employ about 150,000-200,000 FIFO workers every week (see Carrington et al. in this issue). FIFO workforces tend to be more cost-effective for local governments, as there is less need to invest money in community development: the families of FIFO workers are elsewhere, and so are the schools, libraries and most leisure industries. Instead, FIFO workers’ pay tends to support pubs and prostitutes.

Figure 1: Advertisement that appeared in the literary journal Meanjin in 1972.

Figure 1: Advertisement that appeared in the literary journal Meanjin in 1972.

That Conzinc Riotinto of Australia here promise ‘opening up the Australian emptiness’ (Figure 1) raises the question of colonialist depictions of Australia as terra nullius at a time when questions about Indigenous self-determination and revaluing of country were beginning to be raised. It is also interesting to note that CRA was keen to advertise their noble intentions in relation to the national good, as the company promised ‘building towns, ports and harbours’. This philanthropic rhetoric—the idea that the mining company is ‘putting something back’ rather than simply taking ‘something from the soil’—resonates today in the context of the national ‘mining tax’ debate which sought formally to incorporate, via taxation, the value of commodities extracted from the national ‘commons’. That most large mining companies strenuously contested this tax indicates a fraught relationship between the State (in this case, Julia Gillard’s Labor government) and corporate mining interests. The mining tax debate became heavily politicised and sensationalised in the Murdoch press through vociferous opposition from federal Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott. At the same time as mining companies resisted the government’s proposed tax, aimed at redistributing mining profits, companies struck royalty deals with local governments and, in some cases, Aboriginal communities, as if to demonstrate a concern for local and environmental issues.

Each of the papers in this special section contributes to this larger question of how mining and tourist industries contribute to discourses and practices of cultural value the impacts of which reach beyond the purely economic. In their paper, ‘Crime Talk, FIFO workers and Cultural Conflict on the Mining Boom Frontier’, Kerry Carrington, Russell Hogg, Alison McIntosh and John Scott set the scene for this discussion. They present findings from a community case study in the West Australian minefields where the tourism sector has recently begun selling souvenir T-shirts reading: ‘FIFO—Fit In or Fuck Off’. In their contribution, Carrington et al. draw attention to the impact of a non-resident workforce on everyday life in a small town. They argue that not only do mining and work camps undermine the values of long-term sustainable community development in rural Australia, including existing tourism ventures, but that FIFO camps have brought cultural problems that make future development problematic.

Deborah Che’s paper, ‘Pennsylvania Wilds or Timber Production and Oil and Gas Fields? Resource Extraction and Tourism Development in the Allegheny National Forest Region’, offers a comparative United States/Australian perspective, providing a brief industrial history of the Allegheny Plateau in Pennsylvania (USA), a place where the world’s commercial oil industry was born, but also an appealing tourist escape for residents of nearby industrial cities. Using a human-geographic approach informed by historical analysis, Che examines the shifting land uses in the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) region from the mid-1800s to the present. Che highlights recent conflicts between tourism and oil and gas production companies played out in this newest frontier of US natural gas production that is also known as “Pennsylvania Wilds”, a 12-county region containing hundreds of miles of land and water trails.

Tess Lea adds another angle on the ‘wicked problem’ of ‘songlines vs. pipelines’ in her account of ‘Ecologies of Development on Groote Eylandt’. This paper takes an ecological perspective in its exploration of the interimplicated ways that mining, social policy development and Indigenous livelihoods function. In doing so, it advocates a break away from common arguments that mining simply poses a threat to Indigenous sovereignty, reading the manganese-rich blue mud of the Groote Eylandt archipelago in terms of policy quagmires, discourses of Indigeneity and the push and pull of infrastructure developments. As a result, the very notions of ‘theories of development’ and policy ‘intent’ are destabilised, while underlying forces that constitute the conditions of policy intervention on both a consumerist and ecological level are brought to the fore.

In the context of the dramatic impact of mining industries on local communities, it seems that the capacity for local interventions in decision-making processes is ever more diminished. In particular, the place and value of Indigenous culture, traditions and relation to place, in short country, are either barely considered or, even more problematically, become a kind of scapegoat in larger negotiations as economic opportunity becomes the prime value.

In her paper, ‘Hosts and Guests: Interpreting Rockhole Recovery Trips’, Eve Vincent uses an ethnographic approach to explore the impact of resource extraction on a small-scale Indigenous tourism venture. The paper focuses on a small group of Aboriginal people from Ceduna in South Australia who, in 2006, began organising biannual 4WD tours of their traditional country. The tours offer visits to a series of ‘rockholes’, permanent water sources that occur in granite outcrops scattered amongst the mallee scrub. Members of the local, highly-politicised Kokatha grouping and interested non-Aboriginal visitors jointly undertake these tours, now known as ‘Rockhole Recovery Trips’. These trips take place in three contiguous conservation reserves, which are also subject to a myriad of mineral exploration leases. Vincent’s paper provides an interpretation of their significance as she sets out the range of meanings and values that energise the planning and enacting of these trips, as well as the new meanings and values they generate.

Kathie Muir’s paper ‘Politics, Protest and Performativity: The Broome Community’s “No Gas on the Kimberley Coast” Campaign’, presents the results of fieldwork from her study of conflict between Indigenous and environmentalist groups and proposed mining industries, this time in the Kimberley. The community campaign against the proposed Liquid Natural Gas processing hub at James Price Point/Walmadan north of Broome is grounded in an alliance between local community members and Traditional owners. Muir discusses the unique cultural, racial and environmental characteristics of Broome and how they have shaped this campaign in significant ways. She outlines how the campaign has transformed the identities and day-to-day lives of people, helping some to re-connect with their community. Muir shows how this presents a means to actively build relationships with Traditional owners and honour their ongoing connection to country. Finally, she explores some of the ways in which these identities and relationships are expressed artistically and how they feature in social media.

In the last contribution to this special section, ‘A Substantial Piece in Life: Viabilities, Realities and Given Futures at the Wild Rivers Inquiries’, Timothy Neale analyses the findings of a series of government inquiries (2010-2011) into the impact in Queensland of the Wild Rivers Act, legislation introduced to protect and preserve natural rivers. Neale’s paper raises questions about the discursive implications of the word ‘wild’ as played out in the inquiries and in media debates about the Wild Rivers Act. The paper looks at tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous representations of everyday life in the Cape York region and it does so in the context of an optimistic discourse about employment opportunities, or what Neale (drawing on Philip Martin) refers to as ‘bright futures‘. This discourse, Neale argues, becomes entangled in political-economic questions of what constitutes, as Senator Heffernan put it, ‘a substantial piece in life’.

Understanding Value Discourses: Towards a Policy Dialogue
Australia’s remote regions offer nature-based tourist experiences that advertise magnificent scenery, extensive coastlines, rivers and waterholes, fishing opportunities and wetlands and billabongs with extensive wildlife. Its natural and cultural heritage is intrinsically linked to Indigenous cultural history and its valorisation of country. The ‘uniqueness’ of Australian Indigenous cultures can, however, be exploited in tourism advertisements, as becomes visible in tourist promotions on Qantas flights. It is there from the moment one boards, on the garments of the flight attendants. The equation of how the tourism industry can benefit Indigenous people and communities could be easy: Sustainable Resource Management would support development of and be supported by a Sustainable Tourism Industry. A Sustainable Tourism Industry could deliver a Strong Economic Base that would cater for Strong Culture and the Preservation of Country.

This would support Traditional owners who argue ‘we cannot afford to mine the coal’.5 They cannot ‘afford’ to because they value country differently and it would cost them too much to give up what they value. This value overwrites economic interests in resource exploitation, which sees ‘nothing’ there except minerals. But the world once again seems upside down in Australia. While many countries have turned their industrial sites into heritage sites, museums, parks and other tourist attractions, Australia is turning its natural and cultural heritage, Indigenous country, existing and possible future tourist attractions, into industrialised space. The related fetishisation of technology, the attempt to ‘tap into’ Nature, has implications for broader social, political and economic concerns. It attempts to overwrite the existing complex networks of value in cultural and natural heritage.

Whatever the imperatives, people always identify with values that for them are worth protecting. The challenge is to present one’s story so that is has significance within the broader discourses about preservation and development (Wergin). There is a need for further independent research, also with regards to tourism, that works through the teleologically-minded futurism advocated by resource extraction economies. One field of interest that is very much related to this is how the present is constantly constructed as a problem, in order to argue for a need for industrial development in the future.

However, as Larry Dwyer pointed out in a personal conversation during our seminar, ‘in economics there is no such thing as a free lunch’, and the contributions collected here all question whether further industrial development and investment in resource extraction is the solution or whether it creates a much larger problem. What becomes evident is that we need to interrogate the ‘value discourses’ themselves that underlie the related decision-making processes, as they play out in specific, local circumstances. Bruno Latour argues, in relation to similar environment cases where different worlds collide, for the importance of diplomacy and negotiation, where skilled diplomats treat each side with respect and can pinpoint exactly “what each side really believes in” (Latour 29, trans. Muecke). In Australia, this might mean seriously interrogating concepts like progress (‘What, Blackfellas have none, no future?’) and the sacred (‘What, Whitefellas have none, they’ve left that behind?’). These are core concepts that crop up all the time without serious discussion. In asking such questions, scholars can help local communities to see through the affirmative actions taken by capitalist interventions and the false promises of equal ‘opportunity’ that merely privatise state welfare.

To be clear, such academic interventions should not be seen as a distracting sideshow, but as capable of delivering expansive overviews and alternative strategies. Culture and community in remote regions will inevitably change. They always have. However, what future role the resource extraction economy will play in this change remains to be seen. First and foremost, a local community should have the opportunity to impact on the direction this change will take, based on informed decisions that are supported by formal political processes and not jeopardised by skirmishes.

In the scenarios described in this collection, the capitalist dream that imagines a pipeline hooked into a natural resource and magically turning on the tap of wealth, without careful consideration of its complex effect on cultures and peoples, may turn out to be as much a caricature as that of commercial representations of the dreamtime ‘native’ in harmony with this same nature. If complexity is the norm, as our contributors think, then every ‘world’ (the miners’ world, as well as the Indigenous peoples’ world) is a heterogeneous mix of living things, materials, concepts, techniques, feelings and values trying to sustain itself—and sustainability always comes at a price.


Carsten Wergin is Senior Researcher at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany and currently Marie Curie Fellow with the Social Policy Research Centre, the University of New South Wales, Sydney. He works on tourism, mobility and transcultural connectivity in the Indian Ocean region, as well as cultural urbanism and musical performance in post-industrial city spaces. Publications include his book Kréol Blouz: Musical Inactments of Identity and Culture (Böhlau, 2010, in German), the Journal Dossier Re-Scaling the Anthropology of Tourism (with Patrick Neveling, 2009) for Etnográfica, and the coedited volume Musical Performance and the Changing City (with Fabian Holt, Routledge, 2013).

Stephen Muecke is Professor of Writing at the University of New South Wales, Australia. He works in the experimental humanities, with Indigenous groups in Broome, and on intercoloniality in the Indian Ocean. Recent publications include, with Max Pam, photographer, Contingency in Madagascar (Intellect Books, 2012) and Butcher Joe, Documenta 13: 100 Notizen—100 Gedanken (English/German, Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern, 2011).


1 This Special Section is a result of intensive debates during the two-day seminar ‘Songlines vs. Pipelines?’ that was organised at the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC), The University of New South Wales, Sydney, in February 2012. Its editors would like to express their sincere gratitude to all seminar participants for their valuable input, as well as to members and staff of the SPRC and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at UNSW for the financial and administrative support that made this event possible. One of the aims has been to publish seminar outcomes quickly and it is thanks to the editors of AHR, Monique Rooney and Russell Smith, and their immediate interest in the topic, that this could be achieved. Thank you also to Virginia Watson and Nina Mistilis for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. Carsten Wergin’s two-year research stay at the SPRC is funded by a Marie Curie Fellowship allocated within the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission.

2 Based on a personal conversation with a researcher who has been affected by a ‘no publication’ policy inflicted by its financial donors.

3 See Accessed 30 Nov. 2012.

4 Accessed 22 Jul. 2012.

5 Traditional owner from the Lower Fitzroy River in personal communication with the authors, February 2012.


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