PhD research: What is the relationship between an indigenous group’s social capital and their stewardship of their land and what effect this has on the extent of their territory?
Jimaima's research aims to use conventional mapping techniques to document and understand a social group or community's value systems and culture in relation to their physical landscape or environment. The area of interest is the Australian Aboriginal cultural setting and the mapping of their traditional land tenure systems and values which they attach to their land. Jimaima's aim is to understand and map the changes (if any) to the functions of their environment and the changes to the community structure or social interactions – that is, see if there is a cause and effect relationship to the values attached to their physical environment in relation to the changes in the social structures or vice versa.
Through the research Jimaima is hoping to look at any relationship between the social capital of a community and their stewardship and strength of presence on their land and finding ways of measuring that.
Furthermore, another research goal is to see how this analytic approach might translate into the operation of Indigenous tenure systems and how these systems are then passed on from one generation to another or change/evolve etc. Jimaima would also like to find out what constitutes an “heir” to a parcel of land or to understand when/how an “outsider” or non-traditional body can acquire the land and what the terms of such an arrangement will be. Furthermore, she hopes to see what social structures influence or establish a “boundary” as we know it – or how a boundary is negotiated between neighboring communities.
In addition, Jimaima would like to do a parallel study of the Fijian system of land tenure and would then like to look at how these two systems currently interact with the Torrens system of land tenure. In doing this, she aims to understand the value of land to indigenous communities from the traditional point of view.
A significance of the research is to explore the possibility of a better interface in the mutual understanding of Indigenous and non-traditional parties making agreements about land tenure; agreements that are likely to reflect both indigenous land values and the more western economic and land ownership values .