Hello! My name is Abbie! As you may have discovered by this point, I am completing my honours thesis in Anthropology: a discipline that has become a space where I feel freely accepted and understood. I am sort of a mixed mag of magic travel beans (if that’s a thing…), with a very fluid and ungrounded cultural identity. I was born as a white-settler on the traditional lands of the Braiakaulung people of the Gunaikurnai nation (Latrobe Valley, Victoria), before re-locating to the traditional lands of the Chitimacha Tribe in Lafayette, Louisiana (known to me as Cajun Country) where I lived throughout the majority of my childhood.
I adopted an American accent and kept it with me when I relocated again to New Zealand, Brisbane, Melbourne, the Netherlands and Perth for a brief period. In many ways, I always have one foot in, one foot out of a culture. This has resulted in an on-going process in my life of always having an “in-between” identity; in-between being a cultural ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’. My experiences in these different places and meeting the very different (but equally magnificent) people around the world sparked by personal valuing of understanding the different perspectives, life histories and worldviews of individuals. I found myself at home in the anthropology discipline. Anthropology has a special place in my heart for the ways it values the multiple personal truths that people carry with them, and the constant un-doing of overarching, Eurocentric ‘truths’ that attempt to control our ways of experiencing life. Because at the end of the day, my ultimate dream is to be free of all these constraints!
Within the anthropology discipline, my personal interests revolve around the anthropology of nature, and the personal and spiritual connections people have with the earth. This stems largely from my own personal background in spirituality and an indescribable pull, unconditional love and sense of ‘oneness’ I feel with nature. This connection sparked my interest in the ways people’s individual relationships to earth can be mobilised to protect her from destructive practices and attitudes; e.g. histories/continuities of colonialism, the destructive effects of capitalism and current failing systems of governance.
Flowing from this, my honours thesis is exploring the ways that people bring their imaginings and connections to nature into the defences of, or opposition to, highly invasive energy projects. I am specifically looking at the 2016 Dakota Access Pipeline “conflict” between Native American tribes and natural gas transport company, Energy Transfer Partners, that took place at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota (U.S.). Within this conflict, I am concentrated on understanding how the anti-pipeline activists of the Oceti-Sakowin re-deployed cultural myths, ritual practices and earth knowledge systems to challenge on-going settler colonialism. I feel very called to dedicating my academic research, now and in the future, to uncovering the different approaches we can use to resist large modern operations, reconnect people to the earth and protect her from future harm.