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CES Workshop: Rethinking Trusteeship in the Anthropocene

CES Workshop: Rethinking Trusteeship in the Anthropocene

Event Venue:

Deakin Downtown 727 Collins StreetDocklands, VIC, 3008, Australia ( Map )

Please join us on Tuesday 20 June for a CES Workshop: “Rethinking trusteeship in the Anthropocene”, organised by Miguel Vatter and Maurizio Meloni


In 1992 the UN Earth Summit introduced the idea of a community of life into international law, establishing a key philosophical principle that moves away from nature as property. More recently, this notion appears in several of the world-wide legislative initiatives to grant rights to nature. For instance, the Aotearoa/New Zealand legislation Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Settlement) Act 2017 recognizes “an indivisible and living whole, comprising the Whanganui River from the mountains to the sea, incorporating all its physical and metaphysical elements” as a legal person with the capacity to claim the same rights as other citizens. Trust and trusteeship play an essential role in the Te Awa Tupua legal framework and its attempt to combine ideas of community of life and traditional Maori law with common law. However, trusteeship also has a problematic history in colonial and postcolonial international law, where it is often seen as incompatible with claims to Indigenous sovereignty. Yet, Indigenous traditions also assign a stewardship role to human beings over parts of nature that excludes private ownership.   

This project seeks to establish a conversation with national and international specialists on rights of nature, trusteeship and the common use of nature in view of theorizing the legal and philosophical implications of seeing the human species as trustee of the integrity of the Earth systems.  


Dr. Cait Storr is a Lecturer at Melbourne Law School. Her transdisciplinary research addresses the relationship between property, territory and jurisdiction in international law, with a particular focus on decolonial struggles for legal control over natural resources. She has published on the history of international administration, the concept of territory in international law, Australian imperialism in the Pacific, decolonisation, and international environmental law. Her doctoral thesis was awarded the Melbourne Law School Prize for Best Doctoral Thesis (2017), and the University of Melbourne Chancellor’s Prize (2018), and is published as a monograph, International Status in the Shadow of Empire: Nauru and the Histories of International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2020). Her postdoctoral project, ‘Regulating ‘New’ Mining in the International Seabed and Space’, examined the history and politics of the international law governing natural resource extraction in domains beyond settled jurisdiction, including global commons.  

Dr. Alessandro Pelizzon is Associate Professor at the Law School of the University of the Sunshine Coast. He completed his LLB/LLM in Law in Italy specializing in comparative law and legal anthropology. His thesis comprised a field research project on pre-Colombian family protocols in the Andes of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. Alessandro has been involved in Indigenous rights since his university years, when he established a research group with which he participated in and supported the drafting of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Geneva. His PhD thesis, conducted at the University of Wollongong, focused on native title and legal pluralism in the Illawarra. Over e decade ago, Alessandro began to explore the emerging discourse on rights of nature, Wild Law and Earth Jurisprudence. His main area of interest in this field is the intersection between this emerging discourse and different legal ontologies, with a particular focus on Indigenous legal structures. Alessandro is one of the founding members of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance. 

Dr Yamini Narayanan  
Dr Yamini Narayanan (ADI) is a Senior Lecturer in International and Community Development at Deakin University. Her work makes substantive contributions to the rapidly emergent field of South Asian Animal Studies through a twin focus on animals in political, and urban life in India. It addresses species as an explicit identity category in Indian national politics, through the intersections of anthropocentrism, sectarianism, and casteism. Her book Mother Cow, Mother India (Stanford University Press) offers one of the first empirical critiques of India’s cow protectionism discourse and politics from a critical animal studies standpoint, examining bovine realities in both sites of production and protection. 


This is an in-person event taking place at Deakin Downtown. Please register via Eventbrite by COB Thursday 15 June. 


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