Both with and against the state? Thinking participation through Aboriginal fire management in southeast Australia

Dr Timothy Neale1

1Deakin University, Burwood, Australia


Established framings of collaborative or partnership relationships between Indigenous and (settler) state agencies typically position them as predetermined expressions of something innate rather than, as they are sometimes experienced by those involved, an emergent and pragmatic exploration of the bounds of what is possible. While we are apt to be suspicious of the institutions of settler governments, and the motives of different actors, such summary analyses can obscure the pragmatics and unexpected transformations that emerge through doing collaborative or participatory work. In this presentation, I will reflect on scenes of revitalised Aboriginal bushfire management practices in Victoria and elsewhere, drawing upon recent critiques of participation to think through their tensions and potentialities. While these initiatives are not decolonising in the sense of restoring full autonomy to Aboriginal peoples over their Country, I will suggest that the participatory governance of bushfire is a site of emerging experiments in the redistribution of legal and political authority over Country.


Timothy Neale is a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and Geography at Deakin University. He is the author of ‘Wild articulations: indigeniety and environmentalism in northern Australia’, published in 2017 by University of Hawaii Press, and you can reach him at or @tdneale

Collaborative experiential future scenario-building for Indigenous water futures

Dr Julian Yates1

1Monash University, 


This talk explores the potential for collaborative planning processes of experiential future scenario-building to inform Indigenous water futures. Experiential future scenario building is a co-designed engagement approach for developing collective intelligence, imagination, and planning. It offers the potential for transforming knowledge creation processes so as to contribute to environmental and epistemic justice, as well as more inclusive and socially-relevant scholarship. I explore this potential in the context of Indigenous leadership in water governance by building on Kyle Whyte’s approach to Indigenizing environmental futures. Potential Indigenous water futures build on processes of renewing Indigenous environmental knowledges and bringing together Indigenous communities to strengthen self-determined decision-making and planning processes in water governance. I explore how collaborative experiential future scenario development may be applied by Indigenous groups to design and plan for Indigenous water futures, therefore building autonomous environmental governance paradigms that are not simply incorporated into environmental management-as-usual. I relate these possibilities to cases in British Columbia (Canada), and Victoria (Australia). I situate the discussion within ongoing debates on participatory approaches in the fields of critical development studies, Indigenous studies, and environmental governance.


Julian is a lecturer in human geography at Monash University. His research focuses on the Indigenous knowledge-sharing networks, adult education, Indigenous leadership in contexts of rural development and environmental governance.

A Manifesto for Shadow Places to re-imagine and co-produce connections for justice in an era of climate change

Dr Fiona Miller1, Dr  Emily Potter2, Assoc Prof Eva Lövbrand3, Assoc Prof Donna Houston1, Dr Jessica McLean1, Dr Emily O’Gorman1, The . Shadow Places Network4

1Department Of Geography And Planning, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia,

2Literary Studies, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia,

3Department of Thematic Studies, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden,

4various,  international


In this paper, on behalf of The Shadow Places Network, we outline a working manifesto of politics and practice. We mobilise the format of the manifesto to speak to an uncertain and damaged future, to begin to imagine other possible worlds. For feminist philosopher Val Plumwood, whose thinking inspires this network, shadow places are the underside of the capitalist fantasy, ‘the multiple disregarded places of economic and ecological support’ (2007, 139). In turning towards shadow places, and the unjust and unsustainable processes that produce them, we call for an environmental humanities – including a geography – that reaches beyond abstraction, fosters new responsibilities, considers the uncomfortable, and generates reparative possibilities and alternative futures. We aim to trace out a world of shadow places. We acknowledge that these shadow places cannot be known in full, but through a willingness to engage in careful conversation with the beings and places harmed by (or strategically shielded from) processes of the Anthropocene we can learn how to relate to each other and these places in more just ways. Recognising that shadow places are impermanent and contingent, this working manifesto does not look to predetermine or prescribe but rather invites conversation, encounter and exchange.


Fiona Miller is a human geographer who undertakes research on the social dimensions of environmental change, with a particular focus on vulnerability to climate change, society-water relations, and climate-related displacement. She presents this paper on behalf of the Shadow Places Network.

Global environmental assessment in the 21st century: towards a new paradigm

Prof. Noel Castree1,2

1Manchester University, Oxford Road, England,

2University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia


As the human impact on the Earth escalates in scale, scope and magnitude, governments have come to rely ever more on various geosciences for expert knowledge about everything from the health of fisheries to the state of global biodiversity. The FAO, UNEP, the IPCC and the IBPES are among the organisations that routinely produce high level assessments designed for policy makers and other interested parties. In this presentation I argue that such assessments are, increasingly, unable to provide the sort of knowledge that is needed to determine how best to respond to the wicked problems that characterise modern life. This is not because global assessments lack value. Instead, it is because governments have, so far, generally failed to create space for a different form of expert advice. This advice would combines the virtues of academic rigour (characteristic of, say, IPCC reports) with a commitment to offering non-neutral, policy relevant knowledge of the kind that the IBPES is, at times, moving towards. This advice would draw upon social science, humanities and arts expertise, but in ways that eschew a broadly ‘value free’ approach to understanding operational and strategic options for humanity, as we contemplate a post-Holocene future. In sum, the presentation offers arguments and examples of a putative new paradigm for global environmental expertise as it interfaces with government and other stakeholders.


Noel Castree is a Professor of Geography at Manchester University and an Honorary Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Wollongong.;

Land Use Regulation in an Age of Limits: A suggested alternative to current path-dependent policy approaches

Dr Paul McFarland1

1University Of New England, Armidale, Australia


Land is a finite resource. All land does not contain the same intrinsic qualities. The supply of high quality productive land with reliable supplies of natural resources is severely limited. The Age of Limits is characterised by limits to resource consumption and unsustainable resource consumption and resultant emissions. Neo-classical economics views land much differently. Modern economies continue to consider ecosystem services and land as dependent on human wants and activities. Generally, the uses of land are regulated by laws that describe the manner in which land can be used. The evolution of general landuse policy and practice has developed from a series of decisions occurring with different levels of knowledge and within varying social and political perspectives, norms and agendas. Contemporary approaches to land use largely ignore externalities in land use change. The analysis of contemporary land use planning in Australia, for example, demonstrates the manner in which land use planning has been subsumed into the political and economic process. This paper suggests a transformative process for land use planning policy whereby social and environmental aspects are re-balanced.


Paul McFarland PhD(UNE), Grad Cert(Higher Ed)(UNE), BMgt(Farm Bus)(Hons)(Syd), BAppSc(Env Plg)(CSU), RPIA(Fellow), MIAG is a lecturer in and Course Co-ordinator of the Urban & Regional Planning programmes at the University of New England. His teaching and research interests are in regulatory planning, with particular focus on peri-urban land use. Paul is currently Honorary treasurer of the IAG and a member of the NSW Planning Institute of Australia Committee.

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