Reframing development through collaboration

Towards a relational ontology of connection in Bawaka, North East Arnhem Land

Kate Lloyd, Sarah Wright*, Sandie Suchet-Pearson, Laklak Burarrwanga, Bawaka Country

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)


This paper draws on the collaborative experiences of three female academics and three generations of Yolηu women from an Aboriginal family from Bawaka, North East Arnhem Land to contribute to debates in development around participation, power and justice. Through a reflection on the process of collaboratively co-authoring two books and associated outputs, the paper discusses the way the collaboration is guided by collective priorities that are held as paramount: trust, reciprocity, relationships and sharing goals. The paper draws particular attention to the essential role that families and nonhuman agents play in shaping these priorities. The relational ontology which underlies this collaboration is inspired by a Yolηu ontology of connection that requires us to acknowledge ourselves as connected to each other, to other people and to other things. Guided by this Indigenous ontological framework, we reframe the concept of collaboration and of development as inherently and always relational.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1075-1094
Number of pages20
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012

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