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Dreamings, Songlines and the “Cult of Heritage”: Tourism Development and Aboriginal Culture in Broome, Western Australia


This project analyses tourism development in relation to social policy in Broome, Western Australia. Tourism is the largest and fastest growing industry in the world and therefore a major field in the area of globalization. Social policy is an integral part of this growing market space. The central question is how images of Aboriginal culture and environment change through tourism impact and how these changes affect minorities and their political representation in Australian society. The primary research site is the town of Broome and the Lurujarri Heritage Trail in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The trail follows an Aboriginal song cycle along the Indian Ocean coast. It originated from the Dreamtime Ancestral Beings who in Aboriginal culture are believed to have created the landscapes, humans, animals and plants, all of which are interconnected by the same life spirit. The landscape, its narrations and imaginaries are compared with what people on different ends – government officials, social and economic entrepreneurs, minority representatives, tourists – have to say about their rediscovery and development for the tourism industry. By taking a ‘grassroots’ perspective the focus of the project is on people as key players in the field of tourism and social policy. The research is grounded in a collaboration between the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia and the Institute of Social Anthropology and Philosophy (ISAP) at Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), Germany. It is an integral part of initiatives to form an interdisciplinary research hub on Tourism, Globalization and Ethnicity at MLU in close collaboration with major research centres in the field, inside and outside of Europe. This research hub will link questions of cultural contact and knowledge production in tourism contexts with state of the art scientific discourse on sustainability, ‘environmental capital’ and heritage.

Call for proposal

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Universitatsplatz 10
6108 Halle

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Sigrid Köhne (Dr.)
EU contribution
€ 251 603,30