Unstable relations

A critical appraisal of indigeneity and environmentalism in contemporary Australia

Eve Vincent*, Timothy Neale

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


The 1970s witnessed the emergence of a protest-based environmental movement in Australia. We outline here the history of the unstable meeting of environmentalism and Aboriginal interests, before turning to Marcia Langton's recent critique of the progressive 'green left' in Australia. We summarise Langton's argument: environmentalists would deny Aboriginal groups the benefits that flow from native title-related agreements; environmentalists live at luxurious distance from the realities of remote and rural Aboriginal poverty and social problems; environmentalists exalt 'noble savages'. We critique these claims on the basis that they pay inadequate attention to the structural inequities that underpin the market in native title interests and, further, deny the reality that Aboriginal groups often seek to form strategic alliances with green groups, arguing for conservation of their country on their own-or shared-terms. We argue that any appraisal of the present status of 'green-black' relations needs to consider these factors seriously.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-323
Number of pages23
JournalThe Australian Journal of Anthropology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Aboriginal people
  • environmentalism
  • indigeneity
  • mining
  • native title

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