Kathleen Birrell on Locating Indigeneity

Juridical Storytelling, Literary Jurisprudences

Kathleen BirrellAbstract: This seminar will discuss the notion of locating indigeneity – that is, locating indigeneity geographically and discursively, as encapsulated and expressed in law and literature.  I will consider Indigenous peoples as local subjects, with ontological and epistemological connections to ancestral country, yet simultaneously as global subjects, in possession of contemporary political, legal and cultural identities with international valency.  Drawing upon my research to date on juridical and literary renderings of indigeneity, I will extend this analysis to the pressing context of climate change.  Through a reading of Alexis Wright’s novels, Carpentaria and The Swan Book, I will examine the constraints of juridical storytelling, exemplified in the universalising imperatives of global climate change governance, and reveal the literary jurisprudences of local resistance.  Ultimately, I will locate indigeneity not in the habitual subordination of the local to the global, but in the generative resistance of the local, and the constitutive relation between these.

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