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Freeing the ‘Aboriginal Individual’: Deconstructing ‘Development as Freedom’ in Remote Indigenous Australia

Hannah Bulloch and William Fogarty

Keywords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; Australia; development; freedom; individualism; Pearson; relationality; Sen

Abstract

The idea that freedom should be an explicit goal of development schemes has become popular over recent decades. In this article we consider ways in which the concept is applied to remote Indigenous Australia, such as in Noel Pearson’s invocations of Amartya Sen’s concept of ‘development as freedom’. We draw on the work of governmentality theorists that critically probes the notion of freedom and the ways in which it is tied to its seeming antonym, discipline. We ask what understandings of remote Indigenous Australian life, what ways of thinking about Indigenous futures, may be eclipsed by approaching development aspirations through this (neo-)liberal prism of freedom.

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