Wild Policy
Indigeneity and the Unruly Logics of Intervention
Tess Lea



I have everyone’s problem with acknowledgments: how to condense all the obligations racked up in the years of thinking, talking, listening, reading, and gleaning, that this—that any—book gathers into itself.

First and foremost, I am in debt to John Singer. When I first stammered out my rough proposal based vaguely on what I did not want to do, having no more precise an outline, he took a punt. Every year since, I’ve learned something new. Most of all, I have learned about perseverance and courage where there could so easily be defeat or rage. With all my heart, John, thank you for trusting me.

John does not work alone. To the people at Nganampa Health, and especially Paul Torzillo and Stephan Rainow, my profound appreciation for your support through thick and thin. The inspirational architect and policy critic Paul Pholeros died before I could get this book into a form he might have approved of. With others, I miss him daily. Early on at Groote Eylandt, Andy Irvine and Jeff Green, Richard Preece and Tony Wurramarrba, separately permitted my attention on the tumultuous SIHIP times; Ben Hall hosted me and checked details; and before I was evicted, David Ritchie and Jim Davidson enabled brief glimpses into bureaucratic backrooms. Justin O’Brien, Yvonne Margarula, and the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation have been fundamental to my re-seeing the everyday militarism infusing our lifeworlds and the tolls being paid. I hope our collaborative journey continues through the challenges ahead.

The Karrabing Film Collective tolerated my bad catering, even that time when we ran out of meat and I pretended couscous was a substitute (well, Moonbill had something to say about that rubbish). May the work of Trevor Bianamu, Gavin Bianamu, Sheree Bianamu, Telish Bianamu, Cameron Bianamu, Natasha Bigfoot, Katrina Bigfoot, Kelvin Bigfoot, Marcia Bigfoot, Rex Edmunds, Chloe Gordon, Claudette Gordon, Miles Gordon, Claude Holtze, Reggie Jorrock, Marcus Jorrock, Ethan Jorrock, Arthur Jorrock, Melissa Jorrock, Patsy-Ann Jorrock, Alethia Jorrock, Roblin Lane, Danielle Lane, Darryll Lane, Loraine Lane, Sharon Lane, Serena Lane, Paul Lane, Akaydia Lee, Angela Lewis, Cecilia Lewis, Elizabeth Povinelli, Quinton Shields, Rex Sing, Shannon Sing, Aiden Sing, Kieran Sing, Cassie Sing, Alice Wainbirri, Joslyn McDonald, Daphne Yarrowin, Sandra Yarrowin, Claudia Yarrowin, Roy Yarrowin, Georgia Yarrowin, Linda Yarrowin, and Roger Yarrowin continue to change hearts and minds the world over. To Bush Beth, aka Elizabeth Povinelli: if I could be half as true as you, I’d be a genius. I am up for more years of your high expectations and potty-mouthed debate. You in?

My work has been supported by the intellectual generosity and inspiration of past and present colleagues in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. Being among you is a privilege. And to all the behind-the-scenes professionals who support academics and students, my profound gratitude for your being so good at what you do, even as your roles get harder and more precarious.

Christen Cornell, Kirsty Howey, Thomas Michel, Stuart Rollo, and Liam Grealy—thank you for reading choked drafts, for your own inspiring scholarship, and for encouragement. (I love my sachet samples.) Barbara Caine, Danielle Celermajer, Glenda Sluga, Julia Klindt, Katherine Biber, Claire Monagle, Moira Gatens, and Helen Groth, for deadlines, feedback, and unstinting support; Sascha Callaghan, Ian Buchanan, Jodi Frawley, and Jennifer Biddle, for lacking doubt and offering always-needed prompts; Allan McConnell, for sharpening my sense of policy’s natural incoherence; Melinda Barbagallo, for maps; Joel Tarling, for figures, and Sean Fuller, for attentive eyes; and I cannot forget Jesse Boag, who treats my books as gay décor and demanded a refresh.

To Cris Shore and Susan Wright, editors of the Anthropology of Policy book series, my deepest appreciation for your vision and trail making; Don Brenneis, for a career’s worth of encouragement; and Michelle Lipinski, for the kind of stewardship I wish all writers may experience. My thanks also to my unknown reviewers for your acute and generous readings.

There are many more people I should thank (all the Indigenous analysts; the post- and undergraduate students, the lawyers, engineers, architects, and tradespeople; the Infrastructural Inequalities reading group, café operators, dog walkers, and gym friends; inspiring academics; folk who invited my talks and forced gossamer thoughts to cohere . . . ), but time and a strict character limit compel a stop. A Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship from the Australian Research Council (DP1094139) and support from the Henry Halloran Trust to establish the Housing for Health Incubator proved critical. A collaboration with Astrida Neimanis, Caren Kaplan, and Jennifer Terry exploring Everyday Militarisms as an intersectional feminist project has reoriented my analysis profoundly, as did the book that precedes this, Darwin (Lea 2014), which forced me to properly focus on the military underpinnings of continuing settler occupation.

My final thanks go to all the dogs who have ever hounded me to walk, snuggle, and play, and my nonfur family, Elise, Daniel, and Greg Moo, for their continuing love. They build planes, cook stir-fries, fix electrical systems, speak Spanish. They are clever and kind. They are the best part of me.