Decolonising the Urban? Enacting Aboriginal Sovereignty in Western Sydney
Funding period: 1 July 2020 – 1 July 2023
Type of funding: Postdoctoral Research Fellowship
Naama Blatman-Thomas is a lecturer and USF postdoctoral research fellow at The University of Sydney, School of Geosciences. She researches settler-colonial and Indigenous urbanisms in Israel/Palestine and Australia. Naama explores structures of dispossession and repossession in cities and how land and property are constructed, contested and negotiated amidst and through capitalist racial regimes. Naama undertakes this research project in collaboration with the Deerubbin Local Aboriginal Land Council in Western Sydney in order to probe the possibilities and challenges of urban decolonisation in a site of hyper-development and financialization. The project takes a historical and ethnographic approach to this question. Historically, it brings together archival and Indigenous oral histories to tell the story of Parramatta Gaol, one of the longest standing colonial prisons in Australia and a paragon of Indigenous exploitation and dispossession. The project furthermore examines how Deerubbin is actively engaging in the reclamation of land in Western Sydney – including the repossession of Parramatta Gaol – while asking how Aboriginal land ownership contributes to First Nations’ sovereignty in Australia.