Land and water: Timothy Neale, Stephen Turner, ‘Other people’s country: law, water, entitlement’, Settler Colonial Studies, 2015


Introducing a special issue of Settler Colonial Studies: This issue of Settler Colonial Studies comes out of a long-term collaboration between the guest editors which began, in earnest, with a panel on the theme of ‘Other People’s Country: Law, Water, Entitlement’ at the Cultural Studies Association of Australasia conference held at the University of Sydney in December 2012. The panel’s topic was drawn from our own work on encounters between settler and indigenous ‘laws’ over specific waters, including Lake Omapere in the Hokianga district of Aotearoa/New Zealand, Lake Okanagan in British Columbia, Canada, Lake Cayuga in upper New York State, and the Wenlock, Archer, Stewart and Lockhart rivers in far north Queensland, Australia. Further, the conference’s provocative title (Materialities: Economies, Empiricism, & Things) corresponded to our own interest in thinking through the entangled objects of law – legislation, policies, institutions, treaties and so on – that ‘govern’ waters and that make bodies of water ‘lawful’ within these settler colonial sites today. Informed by the theoretical interventions of cosmopolitics and political ecology, each opening up new approaches to questions of politics and ‘the political’, we were interested in attempting to locate these insights within material settler colonial ‘places’, rather than abstract structures of domination. A claim to water is not simply a claim to a resource. It is a claim to knowledge and to the constitution of place and therefore, in the terms of Isabelle Stengers, to the continued constitution of the past, present and future of a ‘real world’.

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