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Politics seminar: Why ‘Land Back’ is not scary

Postgraduate students, Staff
Event type
Division of Humanities

Seminar presented by Dr Christine Winter, Politics

Max Liboiron makes a distinction between Land (which cannot be ‘owned’) and land (which is property) (Liboiron 2021). Elizabeth Anker (2022) suggests the freedoms of land-as-property are ugly freedoms built on slavery, dispossession and biodiversity loss and from which the polycrisis stems.

I work to frame an alternative to this land-as-property imaginary based in Māori concepts of care for the natural realm and the future. In te reo Māori, whenua means Land; it also means placenta. Whenua, Land, carries within it concepts of multispecies, multitemporal, and multibeing entanglements. Whenua, as Land and placenta, carries meanings of relationality, connectivity, immersion, care, and nurture.

While the idea of land as property seems to grant freedom, I will argue it is freedom’s phantom. ‘Land back’ is not scary because freedom and the future is found in relationships with Whenua/Land, not ownership of land.



Bronwyn Craig


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