Yolŋu Diplomacy

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This short account of Yolŋu Indigenous diplomacy has been collaboratively crafted by four Yolŋu Aboriginal Elders of Northeast Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, Australia. Gawura Waṉambi, a leader of his clan nation, Marraŋu of the Raymaŋgirr homeland, shares his philosophy of Warraw’ (shade) in describing how Yolŋu ways of diplomacy have been ancestrally placed and are currently practised by Yolŋu people. Joy Bulkanhawuy, a senior Elder of Djambarrpuyŋu of the Ŋurruyurrtjurr homeland, helps the reader to understand how Riŋgitj (ancestral assemblages) brings human, other-than-human and more-than-human together in the act of performing Yolŋu diplomacy. Ian Mongunu Gumbula, a senior Elder of the Gupapuyŋu clan nation of Djiliwirri, discusses the concept of Mulka’ (comfort place) which underlies both the everyday and ceremonial practice of Yolŋu keeping people-places safe and comfortable. Brenda Muthamuluwuy, an Elder of the Birrkili Gupapuyŋu clan nation of Ḻuŋgutja, translates the voices of these Elders speaking in their own languages into English.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)600-605
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of International Affairs
Issue number6
Early online date28 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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