Reclaiming Booroowang is located on unceded Gadigal Land, Eora Country, the site of British invasion in 1788. The research begins by dismantling the fiction that is land ownership in Australia and its legal, juridical, and philosophical foundations. Within the framework of ADS8’s theme, the project foregrounds research in settler-colonialism and its modes of extractivism to trace how the country got to where it is today, and the bodies responsible for its ecological destructions.
The research also foregrounds First Nations Australians voices and knowledge systems which resist settler-colonialism and have done so since the invasion of Australia. It challenges the erasive settler-colonial history of Gadigal Land and instead develops and builds upon an Indigenous feminist history of resistance, care and repair.
The work culminates in a spatial proposition that is reparative, regenerative, and reflective: an ecological reclamation of the Royal Australian military base at Garden Island, Gadigal Land (Sydney Harbour). The proposition is both:
- an abolition of colonial and military administration and maintenance of Garden Island and;
- a long-term ecological rehabilitation of Gadigal Land and waters, starting with active human intervention, and ultimately more-than-human intervention and growth.
These spatial interventions thus create a testing ground for what abolishing colonial administration of unceded Aboriginal land and bodies might look like if custodianship of the land was returned to First Nations peoples, and forms of life were given the support to grow from colonialism’s ruins. It resists simplistic and extractivist ways of representing bodies of land, water, humans and non-humans; and attempts to represent these bodies in relation to one another.
Questions explored throughout the research include:
How has the cadastral allocation of stolen Aboriginal land from 1788 onwards influenced state control and private property patterns over ecologies throughout Australia today?
How is the military influential in perpetuating and maintaining the spatial violence of colonial conquest and which bodies resist its operations and are thus deemed a threat to its operations?
In rejecting racial capitalism and settler-colonialism as governing forces of space, and adopting a respectful relationship to land, what non-extractivist architectures might emerge to reconnect bodies that have been disconnected through these state-mediated forces of control?
In dismantling the legislative, juridical, philosophical, and built infrastructures of the colony, what reparations need to be made and to who?