Well, I finally submitted my PhD thesis. Given this is likely to be last thesis related post in a while, I thought I’d take the opportunity to post my thesis acknowledgements. I’m feeling incredibly relieved to have finally submitted, but also incredibly grateful to everyone who made it possible.
In memory of Don Burarrwaŋa.
Except where cited this thesis may be the result of research carried out by the author, but it is fundamentally and necessarily a social product. The data that forms its basis I owe entirely to my Yolŋu family who not only took me in and loved and cared for me as their own kin, but who taught me with such patience, such care and affection, the everything of the something that I know about the Yolŋu social world. My deepest gratitude is to you, marrkap-mirri, gurrutu-mirri walala. Also to Nanni Concu who shared much of this journey with me, thank you. Many of the ideas in this thesis began as conversations with Nanni, a proud anarchist and unorthodox economist.
I don’t recall exactly when my love affair with anthropology began, but I do recall that I have John Laurence and Victoria Burbank to thank for imparting their passion for and dedication to anthropology in my undergraduate years at The University of Western Australia. Victoria is also an advisor on my panel. Thank you to both.
To my marŋgi-kunha-mirri walala (teachers) at The Australian National University: I am grateful to my primary supervisor Francesca Merlan, who walked me through, step by step, as I learned to write ethnography, and who has challenged me to be a more rigorous anthropologist and scholar at every stage. Heartfelt thanks also to Frances Morphy, my advisor and Balanda ŋamala, whose ethnographic experience, linguistic and writing skills have contributed so much to this thesis. I also owe my sincere thanks to Ian Keen who has been a quiet influence on my work since well before I began this PhD. Thank you Ian, for being so generous and supportive of this intellectual project and so rigorous and critical in your advice. And to a marŋgi-kunha-mirri of a slightly different kind, my wäwa Bentley James, rogue and scholar – I am forever grateful for your intellectual support and your friendship.
The research for this thesis was undertaken with the financial assistance of an Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship. The Northern Land Council facilitated the acquisition of the permit necessary to undertake fieldwork in Arnhem Land. Thank you also to the staff at Northern Territory Archives Service for helping me navigate its collection of material. I would also like to thank Jon Altman, Chris Gregory and David Martin who gave productive feedback on previous drafts. And gratitude and thanks go to Nicolas Peterson for the opportunity to tutor during my time writing up. I am also grateful to the broader anthropological community at The Australian National University. The intellectual environment of ANU has been critical to my being able to maintain my motivation and enthusiasm. On a similar note, thank you to Giovanni da Col for inviting me aboard the HAU editorial team. HAU has been a real intellectual and political inspiration during some of the more difficult stages of writing. I would also like to acknowledge a number of online communities – in particular the anthropological and activist communities on Twitter and Facebook and the readers of my Fieldnotes and Footnotes blog. I found the writing process very isolating at times and I am thankful for the intellectual and political engagement as well as the support and encouragement I found online.
To my comradely friends and fellow activists, thank you for keeping me grounded and reminding me what is important.
Finally, to my family – to my Mum and Dad, Shaun, Harley and Tiana: words cannot express how grateful I am for your unconditional love and support. I could not have completed this thesis without you.