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Posting on the blog

If you would like to write a post for the blog, just click on the link below and follow the prompts.


Posts may be to do with questions which have arisen in group discussion, challenges arising in your work, changes in policy, upcoming events, provocations to the group etc, etc, etc.

Please include a title; and if you hit the ‘add media’ button on the following page you’ll be able to upload images or documents from your computer and add them to you post.

Writing for a Learning Communities Journal Special Issue

A ‘Governance Lunches’ Learning Communities Journal issue:

Dear Governance Lunchers and Writers

  1.  We have talked to a number of publishers about a book on Governance research issues in Northern Australia – the topic of our lunch time discussions
  2. We have decided that the best place to start would be a special edition of the Learning Communities Journal, which tells the story of our discussions, and provides the opportunities for people to publish articles which put a particular governance angle on our individual research projects.
  3. We hope that articles and excerpts from the special edition may find their way into a book which will be framed up in collaboration with an interested publisher.
  4. At this stage we expect that the title of the special edition would be something like: ‘Governance in Northern Australian Communities: Learning from Sharing Experience as Researchers’.
  5. The LCJ edition will be introduced with an editorial, talking about how the group came to be, and how it unfolded, including the writing of our ‘one-pagers’, the blog, the discussions and transcriptions.
  6. If you would like to part of this writing exercise here are your instructions:

o   Revisit your one pager.

o   You might be interested to read the attached short article ‘Understanding Localism’ (see below). You might want to think if and how your work fits into the frame for analysing policy which this paper sets up.

o   Helen will pull together a final paper thinking about governance and localism.

o   Your task would be to write about 2-3000 words expanding upon the original paper in which tell the story of how your understanding of your work has changed over the past year, how changing forms and understandings of governance (for example the announcement of the IAS and its application process) have changed your and your work.

o   Look at the transcriptions of what you and others have said, and think about how our ideas have come together and separated

o   If you have a draft ready by the end of February, Helen will be available in Darwin for two weeks to work with you personally on developing your draft in terms of the overall themes emergent in the volume

o   If you don’t have a one-pager, now is the time to start.

o   Helen will be available to help you structure your writing in a way which might appeal to the reviewers.

  1. We would like to continue the lunchtime discussions into the future, but from now on without the recording and transcriptions.  Michaela will be diverting her attention to her post doc, so we are hoping someone from one of the other groups within the NI will be happy to take over the coordination, maybe with a new focus.

‘Understanding Localism’

Evans, Marsh, Stoker (2013) Understanding Localism

In this paper, Evans Stoker and Marsh outline three different types of localism – managerial, representative and community. As we revisit our 1-pagers, we may like to consider our work in relation to these categories.

A ‘found comparison’: Juxtaposing shifts in the arena of environmental policy and emergent indigenous Australia policy

Here are some comments that Helen Verran sent through following the discussion of our last meeting (6th November, 2014).

I’ve really enjoyed listening to the accounts that have been given to today’s meeting and it reminds me that in varying ways many of us work across the ‘imagined’ boundary between services delivery and research.  What we’ve heard today reminds us of how artificial that boundary is because irrespective of being ‘researchers’ or ‘services delivery personnel,’ in being involved with the social-political-cultural endeavour of governance in Northern Australia in the middle of the second decade of the 21st century, we are participants in a national scale experiment in governance as the IAS administrative framework is gradually extended from the top down, being tinkered with here and there, in the process.  This is rather similar (but on a larger and grander scale) to the experiment in environmental policy that started up in the mid to late 1990s in Victoria and spread unevenly (in both time and space).

So I wonder do we have a sort of ‘found comparison’ here in juxtaposing the recent past of the shifts in governance in Australian environmental policy as the arena shifted to environmental services as the core object of governance, with emergent Indigenous Australia policy?  For example I am reminded of the recent paper that Allan’s group circulated tracking the flows and ebbs of changes in environmental policy frameworks that emerged from the Australian centres of government…

I am beginning to think that following this experience with the IAS collectively in our meetings for at least the next few months—which are recorded and transcribed we remind you. Will this become an important topic in publications that emerge from our discussions?

There’s particular questions there for me… One is this: do you all as university based practitioners  of governance, think and or talk about the common institutional distinction between research and services delivery? The distinction is important to the University, and distinguishes a university as an institution working in the social-political-cultural arena of governance in Northern Australia from other national level institutions.

This question is one which we may begin with next meeting… please feel free to post any thoughts here, and to be thinking about your response  as the basis for our next lunchtime discussion (Thurs 11th Dec).

Researching and Delivering Services in Governance in the Present of the Liberal Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy

A group of us in the Contemporary Aboriginal Knowledge and Governance section of TNI are committed to working an analytic which takes world—the here and nows we find ourselves participating in, as emergent.  This refuses the conventional modern analytic that has as given, an ‘out-there’ to be known or governed by an ‘in-here’ which knows or governs.  Instead in worlds taken as emergent, all participants—human and non-human, mix up in the present here and now.  We learned to think this way in the 1980s and 1990s when we worked for various Yolngu organizations, our learning taken in hand by particular generous old Yolngu men and women. This way of thinking led to the Garma Maths Curriculum which featured as a ABC Quantum video clip in my seminar at TNI last month.

Later we discovered that this analytic approach, one that we had painfully and slowly been inducted into, can relatively easily be connected to a variety of analytics that currently flourish in the academy: the frames embedded in the works of Foucault, Deleuze, Serres, and Latour, and Pyne Addelson (who is not a 20th century French poststructuralist like the others, but an American Pragmatist philosopher).

So what might our analytic approach to working with governance in communities from the ground-up offer in the present of the Abbot government’s ‘three musts’ of services provision in Indigenous communities?  Under the new policy of ‘Indigenous Advancement’ the ‘three musts’ of services provision in Indigenous communities are the following: Services provision must get kids in schools; people in jobs; and provide safe communities.

Hmmm….Our work in services provision involves waiting for, and starting from, governance problems that, like stories “just come along”, as one of our Yolngu colleagues, Yingiya Guyula, puts it. Currently Juli and Trevor working in Gapuwiyak, and Anthea in Ramangining, find themselves working with groups of elders who want to ‘bite the bullet’ and set up corporations.

While the story of this work is not mine to tell, as a member of the team I am concerned.  Despite having I, as much as an old Yolngu woman, find myself out of my depth. I find myself wishing I had studied law, and knew more about contracts theory.  Are there any lawyers out there offering services pro-bono?

Talking about our Governance Work at the Open University ‘Transforming Data’ Workshop. London Sept 2014

This workshop is intended as an exploration of what happens analytically when ‘data’ are put up against, compared with, juxtaposed with or thought through other sorts of knowing and doing. What happens when data practices are compared with or thought about in conjunction with that which lies outside them, or seems ‘other’ to them? It poses these questions in a time when data and the digital are being heralded as the means to unite, connect and level the world as known and governed. Thus this workshop is intended to problematize assumptions about what connectivity or unity might consist in, and to serve as a reminder of the existence of difference, otherness, what we do not yet know and cannot just include.

I was invited to present at a workshop of British researchers convened around this theme. I prepared a paper based on work that Matt Campbell and Michael Christie had published about governance practices around Alice Springs Town Camp houses. Of course these governance practices involve data: information assembled—often by Indigenous research teams like those Matt works with in Tangentyere Council. But also, these governance practices involve storying: the circulating of multiple narratives about each individual house. Both data and stories contain information crucial to good governance of the houses in Alice Springs Town Camps. ‘How can these be worked together?’, I asked. How can each information form be valued in its own right, and the differences between them respected? I proposed that governance can develop as a politics of dissensus which takes difference seriously if we learn how to do that.

But, in my talk I did not narrate this paper because I felt some background needed to be offered before the significance of the distinction between ‘doing data’ and ‘doing stories’ could be appreciated. Here are the slides (slightly modified) of the talk I gave. Of course Matt, Michael and I will discuss whether the paper I wrote and which was commented on by a discussant, might have a future. A lively discussion focusing in part on objects of governance and the forms of information they might require for a rich life, ensued.

TNI Governance Research – Presentation Slides

Governance thoughts

I recently attended an Indigenous Governance workshop in AIATSIS in Canberra, at which I was a dual representative of the GroundUp team and the Tangentyere Council Research Hub. The workshop was attended by around 40 people, including representatives from academia, the government (federal and state/territory), Indigenous NGOs (most large, some small), and Indigenous private enterprise.

By way of context  the workshop was, for the most part, like any other: we had facilitators, we had presentations, followed by questions, we did small group work followed by reports back, we chatted with other participants in the breaks. So in a sense nothing much to see here. However I was watching and trying to pay attention to who gets to speak (and for how long) and what is the impact of their contribution. I guess in a sense one of the things I was trying to see was ‘who are the decision makers’ and how do they become them- i.e. what are the social processes at work in which some people emerge as the authorised voices? I was then interested in whether these authorised voices enabled other conversations to take place, or whether they constrained them- setting limits on what was able to be legitimately discussed.

I am interested in this as the work we are doing in the IGLDP is looking at who gets to talk and what are the vehicles through which they are able to talk. We are finding in Ntaria that in many situations things are not working to peoples satisfaction- i.e. the wrong people seem to be driving the conversations, or people do not feel that they have the vehicles through which they are able to be heard.

However my question for others is have they experienced situations in which the governance they saw emerging either constrained or enabled other conversations to take place? I.e. was the function of the governance that emerged to reinforce itself? If so do people have any thoughts about what this might mean in the longer term?



GroundUp research and the Encounter

This contribution to our Governance Lunches discussion was drafted by Michael  in response to requests from our last meeting. We invite discussion on any of these points towards our thinking together.

The 1980s (when some of us were at Yirrkala) was characterised as the era of ‘Aboriginalisation’.  That meant many things, but two of them were the development of a Yolngu curriculum, and the Remote Aboriginal Teacher Education program both of which which took seriously Yolngu knowledge practices. (Helen and Juli were both key players)

When the Yolngu studies program started at CDU (then NTU) we tried to implement some of those good-enough both-ways practices, first for teaching and then for research – in a number of different research projects, including YACI.

We continue to work carefully with Yolngu philosophers to hear what they have to say about knowledge, agreement making, authority, the body, the environment, time, money, and more recently, governance and governmentalities.

We also engage (mostly through Helens help) some of the current theory at work in the academic world – for example Actor Network Theory and material semiotics, and the pragmatist philosophers John Dewey and Kathryn Pyne Addelson and others – Latour, Deleuze, Foucault…

We discern a link between Yolngu practices of encounter and engagement, and the ‘metaphysics of emergence’ looking at how new ideas, practices, and theorisations come out of participants in collective action working together to address the ‘problems of the moment’ and ways of going forward together.

What here might look like simply good manners uncovers a commitment to a particular way of ‘doing’ the world, where categories are always provisional and emergent, when dualisms are not a priori, but effects of collaborative work, where narrative enables us to go beyond linear progressive time and the individualism of western ethics and political philosophy.

Currently we see our work as ‘GroundUp’ because we want to avoid the grand narratives and see ourselves as engaging on the ground, in the moment, in collective action, and to do our work so that it ramifies outwards and upwards into incremental changes in practices.

We want our research to be generative, and our outputs to be performative, so we attempt to develop websites which can participate actively in our going on together. Our websites include  www.cdu.edu.au/yaci, www.cdu.edu.au/tfc www.cdu.edu.au/ik and www.cdu.edu.au/groundup

Green Paper | White Paper on Developing Northern Australia

The Green Paper builds on the Government’s pre-election commitment The Coalition’s 2030 Vision for Developing Northern Australia. It sets out the Australian Government’s views on the major policy directions to develop northern Australia. The Green Paper sets out these policies for comment and debate. The Green Paper, along with submissions received, will inform the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia due out later this year.

Public submissions responding to the questions raised in the Green Paper can be lodged online until 8 August 2014.

via Green Paper | White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.