Call for Participants: Decolonising Settler Cities Symposium, 26-27 September, Perth, Western Australia


Rationale: The lands on which Australian urban centres continue to be built are located on the unceded territories of distinct, sovereign Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who continue to exert and practice their laws, cultures, rights and interests. Beyond such broad recognition statements as this, there has been remarkably little effort made to figure out what this means and how this acknowledgement fundamentally unsettles the categories and knowledges by which we claim to understand the Australian city.   Decolonising Settler Cities seeks to create a space to talk about issues that are difficult to define, but are also essential for justice and our collective futures. While it is clear that urban areas in settler colonial countries have always been Indigenous, the implications of this understanding for the future of our cities is unclear. We invite scholars and practitioners to share their questions and critiques, experience and knowledge of decolonising possibilities and obstacles in urban locations. Our hope is to find ways to think through and beyond ‘whitestream’ categories of knowing, thinking and imagining the Australian city, and appropriately centre Indigenous experiences, theories, knowledges and perspectives.    We are particularly interested in perspectives that draw on contemporary Indigenous experiences and knowledge to unsettle the categories that underlie urban governance and often make Indigenous peoples’ aspirations impossible to achieve.  These categories include but are not limited to property, health, development, education, work and family.  The corollary of this negative set of experiences is the way that Indigenous Australians find ways to claim rights, practice culture, enact laws and act in their interests in urban locations.  These are the practices of Indigenous urban citizenship.    We invite participants to contact us with a short statement explaining their interest in participating. For those participants wanting to make a presentation, please indicate the topic area and the type of medium (whether a paper, film, performance, reading, or another format).  We welcome approaches from people with a variety of backgrounds, experiences and expertise.  Decolonising Settler Cities will have a limited number of speakers and will seek a diverse set of presenters with a large Indigenous presence.

Principles: Our guiding principle for the symposium is to practice ways that support a decolonising politics by: 1. Finding ways to appropriately centre Indigenous experiences, theories, knowledges and perspectives on the Australian city; 2. Creating spaces for conversation and mutual learning that are respectful, honouring, critically aware and diverse; 3. Working to de‐centre colonialist whitestream categories of knowing, thinking and imagining the city; 4. Identifying how mutual learning and delicate, respectful, collaborative imaginings between different streams of understanding in cities (including Indigenous and whitestream) can be cultivated and encouraged; and   5. Co‐designing respectful methods for producing knowledge, teaching and learning about urban Australia. 6. Developing a set of practical outcomes and actions that participants in the symposium will take forward both individually and as a group.

Timeline: Submissions due (300 words): 1 June 2017.    Notification of acceptance: 15 June 2017 Materials (whether film, paper, photographs, art work or something else) due –17 July 2017 The materials will be circulated before the symposium. We will discuss publication of papers and other materials at the symposium.

Contacts: Please email your submissions to either Tod Jones at Curtin University ( or Libby Porter at RMIT (

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