Engaging Indigenous Economy

Engaging Indigenous Economy

Debating diverse approaches

Edited by: Will Sanders

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The engagement of Indigenous Australians in economic activity is a matter of long-standing public concern and debate. Jon Altman has been intellectually engaged with Indigenous economic activity for almost 40 years, most prominently through his elaboration of the concept of the hybrid economy, and most recently through his sustained and trenchant critique of policy. He has inspired others also to engage with these important issues, both through his writing and through his position as the foundation Director of The Australian National University’s Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy research from 1990 to 2010.

The year 2014 saw both Jon’s 60th birthday and his retirement from CAEPR. This collection of essays marks those events. Contributors include long‑standing colleagues from the disciplines of economics, anthropology and political science, and younger scholars who have been inspired by Jon’s approach in developing their own research projects. All point to the complexity as well as the importance of engaging with Indigenous economic activity — conceptually, empirically and as a strategic concern for public policy.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Apr 2016
CAEPR Monograph No. 35
ANU Press
Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR)
Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR)
Business & Economics; Social Sciences: Anthropology, Indigenous Studies

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Engaging Indigenous Economy »

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  1. Taking difference seriously: Life, income and work for Jon Altman and friends (PDF, 133KB) – Will Sanders doi

Part 1: The Hybrid Economy: Theory, Practice and Policy

  1. From Samoa to CAEPR via Mumeka: The hybrid economy comes of age (PDF, 927KB) – Geoff Buchanan doi
  2. From public policy to pure anthropology: A genealogy of the idea of the hybrid economy (PDF, 620KB) – Chris Gregory doi
  3. Cultural domains and the theory of customary environmentalism in Indigenous Australia (PDF, 118KB) – Kim de Rijke, Richard Martin and David Trigger doi
  4. What is the policy significance of the hybrid economy? (PDF, 200KB) – Nicolas Peterson doi
  5. If the market is the problem, is the hybrid economy the solution? (PDF, 138KB) – Katherine Curchin doi
  6. Valuing Aboriginal cultural activity: Beyond markets (PDF, 144KB) – Kaely Woods doi
  7. Hybrid economies as life projects? An example from the Torres Strait (PDF, 835KB) – Annick Thomassin doi
  8. Indigenous country in the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria: Territories of difference or indifference? (PDF, 2.6MB) – Seán Kerins and Jacky Green doi
  9. Indigenous-owned art centres, tourism and economic benefits: The case of Maṟuku Arts (PDF, 439KB) – Marianne Riphagen doi
  10. Five theses for reinstituting economics: Anthropological lessons from Broome (PDF, 130KB) – Stephen Muecke and Ben Dibley doi

Part 2: Critiquing Neoliberalism and the Guardian State

  1. Neoliberalism and the return of the guardian state: Micromanaging Indigenous peoples in a new chapter of colonial governance (PDF, 143KB) – Shelley Bielefeld doi
  2. Media stars and neoliberal news agendas in Indigenous policymaking (PDF, 197KB) – Kerry McCallum and Lisa Waller doi
  3. Trapped in the gap (PDF, 127KB) – Emma Kowal doi
  4. Neoliberal rhetoric and guardian state outcomes in Aboriginal land reform (PDF, 154KB) – Leon Terrill doi

Part 3: Land, Housing and Entrepreneurship: Altman Applied

  1. Dealings in native title and statutory Aboriginal land rights lands in Australia: What land tenure reform is needed? (PDF, 651KB) – Ed Wensing doi
  2. Exploring hybridity in housing: Lessons for appropriate tenure choices and policy (PDF, 590KB) – Louise Crabtree doi
  3. The political economy of the Aboriginals Benefit Account: Relevance of the 1985 Altman review 30 years on (PDF, 132KB) – David P Pollack doi
  4. The work of rights: The nature of native title labour (PDF, 498KB) – Pamela McGrath doi
  5. Indigenous small businesses in the Australian Indigenous economy (PDF, 200KB) – Jock Collins, Mark Morrison, Branka Krivokapic-Skoko, Rose Butler and PK Basu doi

Part 4: Personal Reflections

  1. Reflections of a PhD student (PDF, 115KB) – Benedict Scambary doi
  2. Reflections of a senior colleague (PDF, 115KB) – John Nieuwenhuysen AM doi
  3. Self-reflections: 1977–2014 (PDF, 1.8MB) – Jon Altman doi


‘The volume provides a rare invitation to reflect on how ideas of Indigenous Australia have formed and what these ideas mean in the present and future, and, in its honesty and openness, invites us all to be critical of the current worldviews of Indigenous Australia that we have been presented with. As a book of thoughts and ideas, there is more than enough to provoke a reaction not only to Altman’s work but to how it has inspired and infuriated alike.’
—Tran Tran and Clare Barcham, Australian Aboriginal Studies, Issue 1, 2017.

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