Broken promise men: The malevolent absence of the state at the McArthur River Mine, Northern Territory

Broken promise men: The malevolent absence of the state at the McArthur River Mine, Northern Territory Book Section

The Absent Presence of the State in Large-Scale Resource Extraction Projects

  • Author(s): Lewis, Gareth
  • Secondary Author(s): Wallace, Ruth, Harwood, Sharon, Gerritsen, Rolf, Prideaux, Bruce, Brewer, Tom, Rosenman, Linda, Dale, Alan
  • Published: 2021
  • Publisher: ANU Press
  • ISBN: (print): 9781760464486 (online): 9781760464493

Abstract: This chapter examines the role of the state as both sponsor and regulator of resource extraction in this region. I explore recent Aboriginal perspectives of the McArthur River Mine, its operator Glencore, and by default the state, who together have dominated and disrupted the local and regional Aboriginal world and literally reshaped Aboriginal people’s connections to their traditional lands and waters. Reflecting on the Indigenous historical experience and memory of state-sanctioned violence and dispossession in the region, I conclude that the state emerges as a consistently malevolent absence in Aboriginal peoples’ lives, bridging past violence with current environmental, social and cultural impacts of the state-sanctioned—yet questionably assessed and monitored—resource extraction activities at the McArthur River Mine. I review the history of the development of the McArthur River Mine against a backdrop of shifting Australian Indigenous policy and mining company practices, then apply Sawyer and Gomez’s (2008) work on transnational governmentality and resource extraction, and Owen and Kemp’s (2017) work on social licence and countervailing power in the global mining industry, to explore the interplay of the state and mining company throughout. From recent Aboriginal voices expressed in word, song and imagery I conclude that the Aboriginal peoples of the Gulf have been brutalised as colonial subjects and are now disempowered as ‘extractive subjects’ (Fredericksen and Himley 2019: 59) through the actions of a malevolently absent state.

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Suggested Citation
Lewis, Gareth, 2021, Broken promise men: The malevolent absence of the state at the McArthur River Mine, Northern Territory, Book Section, viewed 30 November 2021, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=26813.

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