A complex balance: Mediating sustainable development in Cape York Peninsula

Benjamin R. Smith, Australian National University


This paper examines ‘sustainable development’ in a contemporary remote Aboriginal rural community. I argue that sustainability in Indigenous development in the central Cape York region involves an ongoing compromise between often incommensurable forms of social, political, and economic organisation. Drawing on material gathered in central Cape York Peninsula between 1996 and 2003, I conclude that development intervention is likely to fail when it is not properly cognisant of differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous ideals and ways of doing things.

Benjamin Richard Smith is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at the Australian National University. His current research focuses on Indigenous land claims, transfers, and purchases in northern Queensland, Australia. His email address is <benjamin.smith@anu.edu.au>.

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