Across the Pacific, modernising processes of globalisation, state and nation-building are being brought into encounter with customary ways of being, knowing and belonging.
This presentation explores these dynamics within two countries, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste, through the lens of changing forms of connection to land. Drawing together theoretical inquiry with multi-sited ethnographic research, it argues that the entanglement of modern and customary forms of connection to land destabilises structures of power, in ways that create multiple possibilities for their reconfiguration. On the one hand, the autonomy of local communities diminishes as power and decision-making capacity shifts to the sites and apparatuses of the state and of globalizing capital. The entanglement of custom and modernity, however, also create possibilities for the creative rearticulation of customary connection to land. A metaphor of entanglement provides a basis for theorising this dynamic and contested landscape. Entanglement speaks to the intertwining of ontologically distinct forms of social relations, in ways which cut across the boundaries of delimited social groups (nations, clans, or communities), rather than being synonymous with them. Entanglements are held to be dynamic but also ambivalent sites, writ through with hierarchical relationships of power.
Speaker: Victoria Stead
Thursday 15 November: 12.30 pm to 2.00 pm
Research Lounge, RMIT Building 28, Level 5