From the European South

a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities

Quiet activism through Dharug Ngurra: reporting locally grown – not from the European South

Jo Anne Rey


As nation-states flail ignominiously (some more than others) in uncoordinated response to rapid global systemic climate challenges that threaten air, water, earth and fire systems, segments of the so-called ‘Australian’ government persist in ignoring the pending catastrophe despite major physical warnings across various systems and despite scientific alerts (IPCC 2021). However, the gap between governmental bureaucratic inertia and citizenry determination to respond to the realities and threats of future human-induced climate catastrophes opens the possibility for a citizen-led activism that goes beyond protests in the streets. ‘Quiet Activism’ is an approach that is already happening on the ground, where localised responses by people who care about their local area are opening opportunities to disrupt the complacency and fossil-fuelled corporate greed of bureaucratic systems (Steele, Byrne, Hillier, et. al. 2021). This paper contends it is not just non-Indigenous people undertaking ‘quiet activism’. Using three sites on Dharug Ngurra, also known as Sydney, Australia, the paper demonstrates how Indigenous cultural practices, that have been undertaken for thousands of years prior to colonisation, are continuing. By showing leadership that cares for Country-in-the-city, utilising sustainable ‘cool fire’ cultural burns, culture camps, and educating for connection, caring and belonging, this paper argues that colonising ‘Possessed-Possessor’ practices can be turned around – away from perpetuating climate catastrophes, toward sustainable futures. As such this paper is reporting about the ‘locally grown’ – not from the ‘European South’.


Dharug, ‘Quiet activism’, ‘Possessed-Possessors’, Colonisation, Dharug Ngurra/Nura



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