Associate Professor of Anthropology
University of California, Berkeley
This paper pursues an ethnographic account of intra-Indigenous relations and jurisdictional contest in urban northern Australia. Its narrative explores the relationship between Aboriginal community policing and emergent forms and figures of urban mobility and morbidity in Darwin, capital of Australia’s Northern Territory. While Darwin’s Indigenous patrols have no police powers, and its officers disavow any authority as ‘‘police,’’ they do have a certain status vested in them by the traditional owners of the country on which they patrol. Their Aboriginal-directed efforts thus entail both an assertion of Indigenous jurisdiction and an accompanying reflexivity about the substance and limits of its reach—limits informed by settler colonial oversight, by the diversity of Indigenous claims to urban space, and by poetic figures and mediatized narratives that trope the volatility of Aboriginal dispersal and displacement. The paper explores the ways patrols negotiate their authority and reckon its limits, extending a local poetics jurisdiction and movement to illuminate the new urban worlds they traverse.
Sponsored by: Anthropology Program; Environmental and Urban Studies Program; Experimental Humanities Program.