Framing the Loss of Solace: Issues and Challenges in Researching Indigenous Compensation Claims

Sandra Pannell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The 2016 judgment in the ‘Timber Creek’ compensation case (Griffiths v Northern Territory of Australia (no. 3) (2016) FCA 900) signals an end to an era of extinguishment-related injustice and inequality, representing, as it does, the first litigated Federal Court award of compensation for the loss or impairment of rights and interests, under the 1993 Native Title Act. In this paper, I explore some of the methodological challenges and conceptual issues confronting anthropologists involved in researching compensation claims. In drawing upon my experience in researching two such claims, I discuss how the issues of gender, resource development, environmental transformation, the Stolen Generation, and the history of Indigenous-European relations in remote and rural Australia impact upon investigations into the loss or diminution of traditional attachments to land. In conceptualising this loss of connection, I discuss material relating to the ‘anthropology of emotions’, and I point to some of the obstacles encountered when talking about emotions cross-culturally. In conclusion, I explore research undertaken into the social and psychological impacts of ecosystem distress, loss of place, and environmental change, and I posit the value of Glenn Albrecht’s concept of ‘solastalgia’ (2005. “Solastalgia, a New Concept in Human Health and Identity.” Philosophy Activism Nature 3: 41–44) in framing research into the loss of solace, and in expanding upon the legal notion of this loss as ‘inconvenience’ and ‘injured feelings’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-274
Number of pages20
JournalAnthropological Forum
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018


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