The Armidale Aboriginal Community Garden is located on an area that holds histories of colonisation, with memories of trauma, resilience, conflict, resistance, and healing immanent in the environment, and in the memories of Elders, many of whom still live on the old East Armidale Aboriginal Reserve site. With a focus on revolutionary environmental thinking, multispecies decolonising research methods, and social activism, this project seeks to counter hegemonic histories of nationhood and place making that silence histories of violent colonialism and Aboriginal resistance. The nonhuman world is an ally in these processes of reclamation.
Because of the undeniable connection between colonial genocide and ecocide, decolonisation at this site must take place in collaboration with the living world. If we understand research as a form of worlding, the community garden is an experimental research site that cultivates a multispecies community in order to usher in a world-in-common. This decolonising research engages with biological ecologies, as well as ecologies of mind, where memory and place cannot be separated, and where thoughts remain open to dynamic difference.
The old Reserve site carries ecological memories of fatal neglect and wastelanding. Contaminated soils of the old dump hold remnants of asbestos and lead in their molecular structure, an archive of bio-mineral and geo-social traumas which remain largely unacknowledged in official histories.This wounded country evidences the ongoing slow violence (Nixon, Slow Violence) of the colonial state, while also acting as an ‘elliptical blueprint’ that memorialises ‘what has been, what survives, and what must be restituted’ (Pugliese, ‘Forensic Ecologies,’ p.31) to Aboriginal people.
Deborah Bird Rose has written on the way connected ecologies of bio-social remembrance resist colonial attempts at annihilation. ‘Memory, place, dead bodies and genealogies hold the stories that tell the stories, that are not erased, that refuse erasure. Painful as they are, they also constitute relationships of moral responsibility, binding into the country and the generations of their lives’ (Wild Country, p.57)
This section of the website documents some of the performative and activist enactments of survival and anti-colonial resistance taking place at the Armidale Aboriginal Community Garden.
ReferencesNixon, Rob. Slow Violence and Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge, Harvard University Press 2011.
Pugliese, Joseph. ‘Forensic Ecologies of Occupied Zones and Geographies of Dispossession: Gaza and Occupied East Jerusalem,’ Borderlands, 14.1 (2015): 1–37.
Rose, Deborah Bird. Reports from a Wild Country: Ethics for Decolonisation. Sydney, University of New South Wales 2004.