Where everyone and everything is a boundary object

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper presented at Conference (not in Proceedings)


    This paper begins with an ethnographically self-reflective analysis triggered by a social scientist addressing the presenter (me) as a boundary object. I was at the time translating and facilitating interaction between Yolngu Indigenous Australian landowners in East Arnhemland in the Northern Territory, and practitioners of Western scientific knowledges—both natural scientists (hydrologists) and social scientists. We are all participants in a current Australian Research Council project – ‘Cross-cultural management of freshwater in the Milingimbi community’ http://groundup.cdu.edu.au/index.php/cross-cultural-management-of-freshwater-on-resource-constrained-islands-arc-linkage/
    This story is a case study to empirically and intellectually situate the presenter (me) as a boundary object – an ‘object’ that mediates between two knowledge communities. Then I highlight a core Yolngu epistemic practice, introducing gurrutu (kinship) in which everyone and everything is a boundary object by virtue of being a relation. An allegory galimindirrk (brackish water) - a favoured Yolngu metaphor re-presenting the idea of joining differing life-sources, will exhibit how Yolngu do differences together within a collective matrix of boundary objects. I will then explore what STS academics might learn from the Yolngu epistemic enactments in everyday and ceremonial contexts. I hope this might lead academics to reconsider boundary objects in new and different ways when thinking about the movements of knowledge.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    EventSociety for Social Studies of Science Annual Conference - International Convention Centre, Sydney, Australia
    Duration: 29 Aug 201831 Aug 2018


    ConferenceSociety for Social Studies of Science Annual Conference
    Abbreviated title4S Sydney
    Internet address


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