(Cancelled) Difference and the epistemics of social inquiry

(Cancelled) Difference and the epistemics of social inquiry

Please note that this event has been cancelled and may run in 2023.

Difference in social inquiry is to be valued first in the form of the un-nameable blooming, buzzing profusion and confusion of any and all here-nows. Such recognition is the means to naming a contingent, generatively vague problem, settling on beginning terms of inquiry pursuing divergence as solution. Only then does a different sort of difference become important in the form of nameable sociomaterial happenings. This talk elaborates this axiom of different differences in the light of problematising inquiry, and developing a speculative form of policy design appropriate for an Australian Federal governance experiment that arose in the tense aftermath of the Mabo ruling recognising that Australia’s many Indigenous polities have never ceded sovereignty.

The Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (www.ilsc.gov.au/) is “a corporate Commonwealth entity established in 1995 to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to realise economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits that the ownership and management of land, water, and water related rights, can bring”. In this talk, building on past experiences had with Yolngu land owners on-country, I focus on the Indigenous Carbon Industry Network (www.icin.org.au/the_network) as a policy expression of this governance agency. I read this agency as doing its governance work between and across two abutting and abrading cosmoses, which I speculatively name as Naturalist cosmotechnics of modern technosciences, and Dreamings’ cosmopolitics of Indigenous Sovereignties. The question becomes ‘How to do this governance work in epistemic good-faith?’
Considering that question provides the focus for this talk.

Helen Verran is Professorial Research Fellow in the Northern Institute at Charles Darwin University. Engaging with difference in the context of the epistemics of social inquiry began inadvertently for me in the hopeful postcolonial classrooms of post civil-war Nigeria. After returning to Australia and taking up a teaching job in science studies at University of Melbourne, working with the very different epistemics of Yolngu Indigeous Institutions saw me negotiating a very steep learning curve. The task was to learn to negotiate conceptual tensions in better rather than worse ways and to justify what 'better' was. Currently I worry at NT governance, and train researchers to use a form of ethnography to discern on-the-ground practices.

Chair: Adrian Mackenzie

Date & time

Mon 17 Oct 2022, 11am–12.30pm


Room 4.69, RSSS Building


Helen Verran


Rebecca Pearse


Updated:  28 September 2022/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications