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Keywords:

  • Pilbara;
  • socio-economics;
  • Karl Polanyi;
  • pastoralism;
  • mining;
  • strikes;
  • social reproduction;
  • company towns

Abstract

Taking its cues from the ‘substantivist’ economics of Karl Polanyi, the paper retraces a socio-economic history of the Pilbara from the pastoral capitalism of the region's initially tenuous colonial settlement to the contemporary regime of extractive capitalism. Spatial fixes have been etched deeply into the landscape of this heterogeneously ‘productive’ region, but crises of social reproduction have remained endemic. Since the nineteenth century, disequilibrium has been the reigning principle, as successive failures of commodification and marketisation have marked a long and non-linear history of double movements.