Decolonising Governance: Archipelagic Thinking, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Decolonising Governance

Archipelagic Thinking, 1st Edition

By Paul Carter


236 pages

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Hardback: 9780815380498
pub: 2018-10-02
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Power may be globalized, but Westphalian notions of sovereignty continue to determine political and legal arrangements domestically and internationally: global issues - the legacy of colonialism expressed in continuing human displacement and environmental destruction - are thus treated ‘parochially’ and ineffectually. Not designed for dealing with situations of interdependence, democratic institutions find themselves in crisis. Reform in this case is not simply operational but conceptual: political relationships need to be drawn differently; the cultural illiteracy that prevents the local knowledge invested in places made after their stories needs to be recognised as a major obstacle to decolonising governance.

Archipelagic thinking refers to neglected dimensions of the earth’s human geography but also to a geo-politics of relationality, where governance is understood performatively as the continuous establishment of exchange rates. Insisting on the poetic literacy that must inform a decolonising politics, Carter suggests a way out of the incommensurability impasse that dogs assertions of indigenous sovereignty. Discussing bicultural areal management strategies located in south-west Victoria, Maluco (Indonesia) and inter-regionally across the Arafura and Timor Seas, Carter argues for the existence of creative regions constituted archipelagically that can intervene to rewrite the theory and practice of decolonisation.

A book of great stylistic elegance and deftness of analysis, Decolonising Governance is an important intervention in the related fields of ecological, ecocritical and environmental humanities. Methodologically innovative in its foregrounding of relationality as the nexus between poetics and politics, it will also be of great interest to scholars in a range of areas, including communicational praxis, land/sea biodiversity design, bicultural resource management, and the constitution of post-Westphalian regional jurisdictions.

Table of Contents


1. Exchange rates: figuring the archipelago

2. From your own seashore: a philosophical geography

3. Ocean connections: local knowledge and regions of care

4. Affiliations after the flood: archipelagic poetics

5. Overflow: a model for culture-based regional development

6. Bacan: biodiversity in the anarchipelago


About the Author

Author of the acclaimed The Road to Botany Bay, an essay in spatial history, Paul Carter’s more recent books include Dark Writing, geography, performance, design (2008), Meeting Place, the human encounter and the challenge of coexistence (2013) and Places Made After Their Stories, design and the art of choreotopography (2015). Also a poet, his collection Ecstacies and Elegies was published in 2013. Through his design studio Material Thinking he has made signal contributions to the public art and design of Federation Square (Melbourne) and Yagan Square (Perth). Paul Carter is Professor of Design/Urbanism at the School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University.

About the Series

Postcolonial Politics

‘Postcolonial Politics’ is a series that publishes books that lie at the intersection of politics and postcolonial theory. That point of intersection once barely existed; its recent emergence is enabled, first, because a new form of ‘politics’ is beginning to make its appearance. Intellectual concerns that began life as a (yet unnamed) set of theoretical interventions from scholars largely working within the ‘New Humanities’ have now begun to migrate into the realm of politics. The result is politics with a difference, with a concern for the everyday, the ephemeral, the serendipitous and the unworldly. Second, postcolonial theory has raised a new set of concerns in relation to understandings of the non-West. At first these concerns and these questions found their home in literary studies, but they were also, always, political. Edward Said’s binary of ‘Europe and its other’ introduced us to a ‘style of thought’ that was as much political as it was cultural as much about the politics of knowledge as the production of knowledge, and as much about life on the street as about a philosophy of being, A new, broader and more reflexive understanding of politics, and a new style of thinking about the non-Western world, make it possible to ‘think’ politics through postcolonial theory, and to ‘do’ postcolonial theory in a fashion which picks up on its political implications.

Postcolonial Politics attempts to pick up on these myriad trails and disruptive practices. The series aims to help us read culture politically, read ‘difference’ concretely, and to problematise our ideas of the modern, the rational and the scientific by working at the margins of a knowledge system that is still logocentric and Eurocentric. This is where a postcolonial politics hopes to offer new and fresh visions of both the postcolonial and the political.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / City Planning & Urban Development
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General