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5 Landscapes of Extraction They didn’t ask the Aboriginal people here if that place had a name already—and it had. Its name for thousands of years has been Jarndunmunha: there’s nothing nameless about that. Tom Price, Yinhawangka elder, Western Australia Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, November 2011 We arrived in Darwin weary and worn. As I stepped outside into the hot, humid night I was overcome with a feeling akin to what naturalist J. B. MacKinnon (2015:2) once described as a “wave of raw fear, the sort you would feel if a cold hand grabbed at your ankles as you swam in deep water.” Clearly my senses were heightened from jetlag and anticipation, but at that moment I was gripped with doubt about the journey ahead: caravan from Darwin to the town of Onslow in Western Australia’s Pilbara region nearly three thousand kilometers away to investigate how heritage landscapes are increasingly also sites of industry.1 It was not so much the distance that worried me but that we would be traveling toward the remotest and hottest part of Australia with the summer and cyclone seasons approaching. As we made our way into the stark and deeply connected landscape, the foreboding receded and was replaced with something closer to reverence. Through experiencing the hard fought-distances, the remoteness and extremes, the light and shadows, we could sense more acutely the transformations occurring in the Pilbara. By the time we arrived outside of Port Hedland, a deepwater mining port and hub, it was evident that something extraordinary was taking place. For more than fifty years, Western Australia has been a site of industry and mining. But, in recent years, major resource projects, from iron ore and uranium to liquefied natural gas (LNG), have accelerated.2 The unprecedented scale of construction and development, coupled with escalating losses to environmental and cultural heritage, are phenomena that have consequences and 80 / Critical Theory and the Anthropology of Heritage Landscapes costs. The Pilbara represents what Anna Tsing (2005; see also 2003) and others have termed a resource frontier, a conceptual category that at once references both the activities (i.e., investment, extraction, development) and the peoples and places in its reach. Industry is increasingly influencing heritage along the resource frontier. In Australia these contexts are announced by plans to dredge for coal near the Great Barrier Reef or expand uranium mining near World Heritage sites and sacred landscapes. Of note is how these same industrial heritage landscapes are Country to Aboriginal people.3 Frontiers are more than a metaphor, as they provide a framework to explore the transformations of Country or traditional territories by industry. Scholars have established how resources and lands are at the center of negotiations with stakeholder communities (Altman 2003; Altman and Martin 2009; Breglia 2013; Golub 2014; Golub and Rhee 2013; Haslam Mckenzie 2013; Kirsch 2006; Sawyer 2004; Scambary 2013).”4 In the last decade there has been a marked increase of mining (and other) operations (iron ore, salt, aluminum, uranium, coal-bed methane and gas) on Indigenous lands or traditional territories.5 In British Columbia in 2010, for example, the Haisla Nation of British Columbia entered into Figure 5. “Mount Nameless,” or Jarndunmunha, Tom Price, Western Australia, photo by author. Landscapes of Extraction / 81 a thirty-year agreement with Rio Tinto Alcan to support aluminum operations and signed an agreement with the government to fast-track an LNG plant.”6 More recently, the Trudeau government is pushing to build the massive Pacific NorthWest LNG project that, once approved and built, will cut through the culturally rich and environmentally sensitive Great Bear Rainforest to reach a soon-to-be-built gas terminal on Lelu Island. The island is known as Lax U’u’la and is the traditional territory of Sm’ogyet Yahaan and Lax Kw’alaams, who have set up a protest camp and are actively opposing the project in order to protect their lands and critical wild salmon populations. Unsurprisingly, these sites also map onto communities that have been historically disenfranchised or underrepresented , and engagements are built on the well-grooved architecture of settler colonial policies that have yet to find resolution. In these cases we see how heritage is newly configured along the resource frontier. Richard Howitt, an Australian researcher who was one of the earliest critics of industrialization as it relates to Indigenous rights, has shown how the approach of resource managers has rendered Indigenous peoples’ values and knowledge systems as largely invisible...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813052106
Related ISBN
9780813056562
MARC Record
OCLC
1013541264
Pages
168
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Language
English
Open Access
No
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