Living Well in the Torres Strait: Indigenous Engagement with Economic Change and Development
This project seeks to understand Indigenous aspirations and collective ‘life projects’ for ‘living well’ in the Torres Strait and how they shape the character of contemporary economic activity by Torres Strait Islanders. Ethnographic research methods are emphasised in order to describe and analyse Islander experiences of significant economic change in the region over the last fifteen years, linked to the resolution of land and sea claims and expanding opportunities for employment in fisheries, public service, arts and tourism. The project illuminates locally salient conceptions of development among Torres Strait Islanders alongside local rationales and motivations in relation to diverse forms of economic action.
This project contributes to Indigenous policy debates by highlighting critical intangible aspects of Indigenous well-being that are routinely overlooked in mainstream government frameworks of Indigenous development and welfare. The project seeks to bring balance to the existing quantification bias and deficit model that dominate mainstream frameworks, focusing instead on culturally informed strategies for expanding Islander involvement across diverse economic spheres.
Project Leader: Julie Lahn
Project Co-Researchers: Colin Scott, Annick Thomassin
Associated Research Themes: Life Projects; Customary Tenure; Livelihoods and Food Sovereignty; Politics of Resource Extraction