Roads to freedom? Indigenous mobility and settler law in Central Australia

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Justice Alternatives, 2020, 1st, pp. 144 - 157
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This chapter interrogates mobility as a site of freedom, ambivalence and hybridity within the framework of colonial settler/ Indigenous relationships in Central Australia, which is located in the imposed jurisdiction of the Northern Territory of Australia. It emerges from a suite of research projects on law, policing and mobility in Central Australia. The first research phase coincided with the 2007 Northern Territory Emergency Intervention (‘the Intervention’) designed to eradicate a perceived epidemic of family violence and child abuse through a massive increase in police numbers on remote Aboriginal communities. The second, from 2014 to the present, has focused on what we call Indigenous counter- mobilities. The first counter-mobility relates to community law and justice and involves place-based mobility strategies by Warlpiri women Elders to ‘patrol’ their own communities in order to enhance social and cultural well- being and to reduce inter-personal harms, which we view as a form of place- based sovereignty. The second relates to the vehicle itself as a necessary part of life in remote Australia and how it is being ‘hybridized’ and ‘Indigenised’ to reflect the cultural and economic realities of life in the remote outback. We see both, in their different guises, as being engaged in what South American theorists with an interest in Amerindian liberation call the politics of ‘decoloniality’ (see Escobar 2010 ; Maldonado- Torres 2011 ).
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