Balpara: A Practical Approach to Working With Ontological Difference in Indigenous Land & Sea Management

Otto Bulmaniya Campion, Simon West, Katie Degnian, Mali Djarrbal, Emma Ignjic, Charlie Ramandjarri, Gladys Womati Malibirr, Margaret Guwankil, Peter Djigirr, Florence Biridjala, Solomon O’Ryan, Beau J. Austin

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Indigenous peoples are increasingly entering conservation partnerships with non-Indigenous actors. While these partnerships can provide resources to assist in the care of ancestral homelands, a lack of appreciation for ontological difference can lead to the restriction of self-determination and harm Indigenous ways of knowing, doing and being. For conservation to succeed globally, it is vital to share practical approaches that can help to better recognize and negotiate ontological differences and promote genuinely pluralistic partnerships. In this paper we describe our decade-long experiment in working with ontological difference in Indigenous Land and Sea Management. We present ‘Balpara’ as an emerging approach to good-faith partnerships, while reflecting on benefits, challenges and limitations. Further, we offer key principles that have guided our pluriversal collaborations as inspiration for others interested in working generatively with ontological difference in Indigenous-led conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalSociety and Natural Resources
Early online date20 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Apr 2023


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