Co-motion: Making space to care for country

Samantha Muller

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    39 Citations (Scopus)


    Ontological differences between mainstream 'Natural Resource Management' (NRM) and Indigenous Australian 'Caring for Country' are an often invisible but complicating factor in cross-cultural collaborations in land and sea management. In an effort to be included, or to include, Indigenous peoples and their estates in NRM funding, many Indigenous groups have framed their caring for country activities as NRM. Indeed, much of the funding available to Indigenous ranger groups is to pursue mainstream NRM outcomes. Consequently, institutional structures and funding arrangements have not effectively recognised or supported caring for country on its own terms. Contextualised through experiences of the Yolngu people in NE Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia, this paper aims to render visible and challengeable the hidden ontological dominance of Enlightenment knowledge in land and sea management discourses and the inadequacy of these universalisms to respect and honour ontological difference. It highlights the invisibility of power to cultures of power and its implications for managing cross-cultural institutions. Esteva's (1987) concept of co-motion, of moving together, is then applied to the land and sea management context as an opportunity for opening institutional and administrative spaces to allow for self-determination to care for country, and thus, for equitable and meaningful collaborations between cultures.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)132-141
    Number of pages10
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


    • Caring for Country
    • Cross-cultural
    • Indigenous
    • NRM
    • Ontology
    • Yolngu


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