Life on the inside of Country, Jessica Weir

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In Australia, the language and methods of river management have stumbled when engaging with Indigenous peoples’ priorities, in part because of the influential binary framings that hyper-separate humans and non-humans, nature and culture, and tradition and change. This talk considers how this intercultural dialogue on water has played out in Australia’s agricultural heartland. Here, an alliance of diverse Indigenous people has formed along the length of the Murray River. Their strategies offer a profound rethinking of human-river relations, whereby humans are repositioned within their environments, and more-than-humans within cultural and ethical domains. Speaking from ‘country’, they go beyond the connectivity offered by ecologists, to also include language, law, history, culture and more. In the context of river degradation and the diminishment of freshwater ecologies, they challenge the presumed culturally-neutral practice of ‘natural resource management’, and offer the new idea of cultural flows, which has found both purchase and limitation.

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