Tribute to Wadjularbinna Nullyarimma, Gungalidda Elder
and Tent Embassy Leader
Curtin University, Perth
Early in 2002, Borderlands published its first issue, Borderphobias. We chose this title for the inaugural issue to focus attention on the ‘insecurity politics’ that had become frighteningly prevalent in Australia since the Tampa’s arrival in August 2001, followed soon after by the 9/11 terror attacks. Central to our conceptualization of the issue was an inspiring statement by the Gungalidda elder, Wadjularbinna Nullyarimma, asserting the linkages among the prevalent forms of sovereign violence at home and abroad.
In late December 2012, when the Aboriginal Tent Embassy released the news of Wadjuarbinna’s death, I reread her ‘Gungalidda Grassroots’ statement in a climate marked by renewed borderphobia over asylum seekers, the re-establishment of offshore detention camps, and a necropolitcal approach of ‘wishful sinking’ towards refugee boats. The words of the women elders fishing in Gungalidda country reminded me of what Deborah Bird Rose describes as ‘water business,’ a set of practices for ‘finding ways to protect and defend the fullness of water in itself and in its relations with other things, and thus engage with water’s living presence’. Wadjularbinna’s Gungalidda elders connect the living water business of their big river with the lives of those seeking refuge along the coastlines of this settler state whose identity is premised on being ‘Girt by sea.’
The full article is available as a PDF document: click here.
© borderlands ejournal 2012