Indigenous Art and Sovereignty Inspiring Change against Environmental Degradation




Sovereignty, art, Indigenous, pollution, oceans, rivers, Asia-Pacific, French Guiana, Caribbean


This special issue on “Environmental Artistic Practices and Indigeneity: In(ter)ventions, Recycling, Sovereignty" constitutes a body of creative contributions and academic articles addressing numerous forms of artistic practices of the Pacific Islands, Australia, French Guiana, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. Inspired by Indigenous artists and writers whose practices and creativity help reimagine sustainable ways to inhabit the world, this introduction and our special issue interrogate contemporary environmental issues and the legacy of colonisation. They examine how Indigenous artists and writers, and artists working with Indigenous artists and communities, have for decades raised awareness about environmental issues, and encouraged people to regain their agency to struggle against environmental degradation and further destruction of Indigenous people’s societies and health. This introduction contextualises the concepts and Indigenous terms used by artists to express their vision of what a respectful relationship with the environment would be. It also offers readings of the beautiful literary and artistic creative contributions included in this issue. Environmental themes such as waste recycling, health issues, pollutants (mercury, POPs), and agricultural technics are discussed here in light of human and non-human life and agency. This issue also features a significant range of calls for action to better protect and restore ecosystems.

Author Biographies

Estelle Castro-Koshy, James Cook University

Dr Estelle Castro-Koshy is a scholar of Indigenous Australian and French Polynesian literary and cultural studies. She is an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at James Cook University. Her recent publications include a review of Lisa Bellear’s Aboriginal Country ( and an essay co-written with Philippe Guerre entitled “‘In My Mind I See Cross-Roads for Everything I Believe In’: The Way Home in Alexis Wright's Croire en l'incroyable (Believe in the Unbelievable) and Le Pacte du serpent arc-en-ciel” (Antipodes, 2019). She was a co-founder of the first Oceanian Writers’ Festival in France (2014). Her translation of Wisdom Man was a runner-up for the “Revelation” Translation prize from the French Society of People of Letters in 2018. She is currently editing a book on the work of Indigenous Tahitian poet, orator, and academician Flora Aurima Devatine.

Géraldine Le Roux, Université de Bretagne Occidentale

Dr Géraldine Le Roux is a Senior Lecturer of Anthropology and the co-Director of the Department of Ethnology at University of Western Brittany, France. She is also an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at James Cook University. Géraldine Le Roux works as a freelance curator and has organised several exhibitions and artist residencies in France and Belgium, including events promoting Australian Indigenous and Pacific arts. Her major research fields include anthropology of art, with particular attention to art production and reception in cross-cultural contexts. Her most recent research and publications focus on ghostnet art, an artistic intervention engaging with marine pollution. She is currently completing a book on ghostnets entitled Des filet-fantômes et un art des ghostnets. Approche anthropologique et esthétique des déchets marins.


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Bailey, D. H., & Watson, S. (2017). CityCat Project 2006-2016. Eds D. Prestorius, R. Butler, S. Butler, M. Heimrich, Berlin: Sternberg Press in partnership with Australian Fine Arts/David Pestorius.

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Bergmann M. L. G. & Klages M. (2015). Marine Anthropogenic Litter. Springer Cham. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-16510-3

Castro-Koshy, E. (2018). An Interview with Sam Watson. AustLit. Retrieved from

Chen C-L. (2015) Regulation and Management of Marine Litter. In M. Bergmann, L. Gutow, M. Klages (Eds) Marine Anthropogenic Litter (pp.395-428). Springer, Cham.

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De Largy Healy. J. (2020). La déclaration de l’imagination ou l’appel au rêve de la jeunesse australienne. Cahiers de littérature orale. Hors Série.

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Le Roux, G. (2016b). Transforming Representations of Marine Pollution. For a New Understanding of the Artistic Qualities and Social Values of Ghost Nets’. In E. Castro-Koshy & G. Le Roux (Eds.) Visual Creativity and Narrative Research in and on Oceania [Special Issue] AnthroVision, 4(1), 1-20.

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Mata’u Rapu, S. (Director) (2019). Eating Up Eastern [Documentary Film]. Kartemquin Films.

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Rickard, J. (2017). Diversifying Sovereignty in the Reception of Indigenous Art. Art Journal, 76 (2), 81-84.

Rodrigues J. P., Duarte A. C., Santos-Echeandía J. & Rocha-Santos T. (2018). Significance of interactions between microplastics and POPs in the marine environment: A critical overview. Trends in Analytical Chemistry 111, 252-260

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How to Cite

Castro-Koshy, E., & Le Roux, G. (2020). Indigenous Art and Sovereignty Inspiring Change against Environmental Degradation. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 19(1).