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To Know One's Place: Belonging and Differentiation in Alice Springs Town

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Based on research in the town of Alice Springs in Central Australia the article explores how social and material aspects of the town generate meaningful understandings of oneself and differentiated others. Drawing on anthropology of place and space and analytical notions of belonging, I explore shared and divergent ways in which a range of people in town come to ‘know their place’ both in a socio-cultural sense and in the sense of relating to the built environment. Paying just as detailed attention to non-indigenous experience as scholars have long paid to indigenous lives, the article suggests that a focus on how people form material and social attachments to place can facilitate more open-ended understandings of changing forms of indigenous-settler relations than the more common focus on difference and division between categories of indigenous and non-indigenous people and domains of life.
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Keywords: Alice Springs; Indigenous-settler dynamics; Place-making and belonging; Urban ethnography

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 3, 2014

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