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An Urban Frontier: Respatializing Government in Remote Northern Australia

By Daniel T. Fisher

Cite As:
Fisher, Daniel. 2015. “An Urban Frontier: Respatializing Government in Remote Northern Australia”. Cultural Anthropology 30 (1), 139-68.


This essay draws on ethnographic research with Aboriginal Australians living in the parks and bush spaces of a Northern Australian city to analyze some new governmental measures by which remoteness comes to irrupt within urban space and to adhere to particular categories of people who live in and move through this space. To address this question in contemporary Northern Australia is also to address the changing character of the Australian government of Aboriginal people as it moves away from issues of redress and justice toward a state of emergency ostensibly built on settler Australian compassion and humanitarian concern. It also means engaging with the mediatization of politics and its relation to the broader, discursive shaping of such spatial categories as remote and urban. I suggest that remoteness forms part of the armory of recent political efforts to reshape Aboriginal policy in Northern Australia. These efforts leverage remoteness to diagnose the ills of contemporary Aboriginal society, while producing remoteness itself as a constitutive feature of urban space.


indigenous Australia; anthropology of media