chapter  13
14 Pages

State-funded services delivery as cosmopolitical work

Opportunities for postdevelopment in practice in northern Australia?
WithMichaela Spencer

This chapter grows from a research project being carried out under contract for the Northern Territory Government – a territory government in the north of Australia. It attends to tensions researchers have found themselves entangled in from the start of the project in 2016. Over the course of the project, Northern Territory Government staff remained solidly focused on producing a system for assessing ‘how well are we [the state] doing in engaging with people in remote Aboriginal communities’ as they enact government policy. In contrast, Indigenous participants have been much more interested in promoting the potential for collaborative decision-making to occur prior to the production of these policies in the first place. In this chapter I trace the events around several small, and rather confusing, moments in the project where the difference between expectations of government officers and those of Indigenous community members became evident. Reading the tension between these contesting positions as distinct sets of politico-epistemic practices, I suggest there was a role here for the researcher in noticing and articulating an implicit ‘cosmopolitics’ at play within the practices of this government-sponsored research project, and that responding to moments of rupture within its everyday conduct enabled alternatives to mainstream settler-colonial governmentalities to appear, and opportunities for postdevelopment-in-practice to open up.