Sunset Ethnography - A Film by Dr Aaron Burton

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Presenter:  Dr Aaron Burton

Date: Apr 26, 2016

Time: 2:30pm to 4:00pm

Contact person:  The Northern Institute
T: 08 8946 7468

Location:  Northern Institute, Yellow Building 1, Level 2, Room 48 (Savanna Room)


Abstract : In April 2013 I travelled to Broome in the far north-west of Australia with Stephen Muecke and Michael Taussig, two leading authors of 'experimental ethnography.' They held a workshop there to share experiences and develop ideas. The day we arrived in Broome was a day of jubilation as oil and gas company Woodside announced its withdrawal from a controversial proposal to develop a gas processing plant roughly 60kms north of town.

Walmadany - the proposed site for the gas plant - is sacred to the Goolarabooloo mob, the indigenous custodians of this land. They were determined to protect the living heritage of their country.

Lots of people came to help the cause, including independent scientists. Their dedicated research of whales, and other flora and fauna, contradicted the government and corporate environment reports. The area is of extreme ecological significance. Woodside's withdrawal was a momentous win for the local community and activists who had been passionately fighting the proposal since 2008.

Nevertheless, the Western Australian government remains bitterly intent on industrialising the region and has since imposed a compulsory acquisition of Walmadany from its traditional owners. These events form the backdrop to Stephen Muecke's ongoing ethnographic project with the Goolarabooloo people and Michael Taussig's unique journey across Australia.

About Aaron Burton : Aaron Burton is a documentary filmmaker, photographer, and visual artist. His personal storytelling approach to moving and still images traverses the boundaries of documentary, visual ethnography, and video art. In 2009 Aaron was awarded the inaugural Jeremy Hynes Award by the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, for his video-based documentaries. Aaron holds a PhD in Media Arts from University of New South Wales and is currently lecturing in visual arts at Charles Darwin University.
More of his work can be found at

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