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The Australian National University

Socio-political perspectives on localism and regionalism in the Pintupi Luritja region of central Australia: Implications for service delivery and governance

Working Paper 25 / 2004


This paper explores the tensions between localism and regionalism within the Indigenous polity of the Haasts Bluff Land Trust. The anthropological trend has been to focus on localism and the tendency toward dispersal and ‘atomism’. As a result less recognition has been accorded the Indigenous social and political structures that radiate out from the local to incorporate people in a wider region. The early ethnographic material on pre-contact demographic patterns is overviewed to gain perspective on these tensions and how they may be played out in the contemporary context. I raise issues about the implications of these focused networks for proposed larger-scale service delivery and governance arrangements within the Haasts Bluff Land Trust as a whole. I consider whether there is any sense of correspondence between the region as bounded by the Haasts Bluff Land Trust boundary and Indigenous socio-political ‘boundaries’ with the view to casting some light on the emerging issue of regionalising local community government.