Running Amok or Just Sleeping Rough? Long-grass camping and the politics of care in northern Australia

by Daniel Fisher

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By Daniel Fisher In this article, I analyze efforts to remove Aboriginal people from town camps and public parks in Darwin, capital of Australia’s Northern Territory. In early 2003, the territory government enjoined the corporate representative of Darwin’s traditional owners to assert their prior title, thereby policing and reimagining public space by reference to this Aboriginal corporate custody. Public discourse, as reflected in news accounts, framed this move as engendering conflict, pitting one Aboriginal “mob” (owners) against another (campers), dividing those amenable to corporate recognition from those who more starkly confronted settler Australian sensibilities and suburban development. Here I explore forms of intra-Aboriginal relationship that these tabloid accounts ignored and describe how such relationships have mediated, if not mitigated, paradoxical features of Australian neoliberal governmentality.