Date of Award

May 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Alison Mountz


Aboriginal, Asylum, Containment, Enclosure, Political Geography, Public Policy

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


In this dissertation, I explore how logics of enclosure underscore policies about national identity, citizenship, and belonging in Australia. Darwin, the capital of Australia's Northern Territory, has become a central place for policy struggles over migration and Aboriginal communities over the past ten years. The city offers a lens through which to read geopolitical processes of migration and detention, sovereignty and citizenship, and settler colonialism and consider their consequences for people's everyday lives. Asylum seekers in Australia face policies of mandatory detention while they wait and hope for refugee status, and Darwin's many immigration detention centers have earned it the name `Detention Capital of Australia.' Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory have also experienced restrictive policies since the 2007 Northern Territory Emergency Response legislation targeted their communities, and Darwin has become the capital of this `Intervention' into Aboriginal communities as well. I argue that these sets of policies reveal a common logic towards policymaking in Australia that relies on containment to engage with populations perceived as threatening to perceptions of Australian nationality. A logic of containment--an approach towards policymaking relying on strategies of enclosure--underscores policies towards asylum seekers and Aboriginal populations. I conclude that similar logics of enclosure, or containment, trap Aboriginal Australians, asylum seekers, and advocates seeking justice, confining their minds and bodies, limiting possibilities for their futures, and revealing the precariousness of their human security in the search for a secure national identity.


Open Access