Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Gatekeepers, guardians and gatecrashers: The enactment of protocols to protect Indigenous knowledge, and how protocols order these practices

Raven, Margaret (2014) Gatekeepers, guardians and gatecrashers: The enactment of protocols to protect Indigenous knowledge, and how protocols order these practices. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

PDF - Whole Thesis
Download (2MB)


This thesis is a study on protocols. This thesis is a study of research practices and Indigenous knowledge which seeks to explore ‘how protocols order research practices and knowledge’ and ‘how organisations and individuals enact protocols’ In research contexts protocols are often put forward as mechanisms to overcome the theft and misuse of Indigenous knowledge. Practitioners who draft protocols treat them as rules or guidelines that engender relationships. Yet despite the growing number of protocols developed for this purpose, only a limited number of empirical studies have been done, which explore how protocols order practices and knowledge when they are introduced into a bureaucratic organisation. This thesis argues that protocols order practices and knowledge both rationally and relationally. Protocols direct and assemble at both the organisational and the individual level through assembling entities that embed rational and relational order. They do this in ways that can be considered as gatekeeping, guardianship and gatecrashing.

This thesis was approached as a mapping exercise that used the three methods collectively to map protocol assemblage, enactment and entanglement at the level of the institution and the individual. Firstly, the ‘Indigenous Intellectual Property Protocol’ (IIPP) of the now defunct Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre is used as a case study to explore how protocols operate in bureaucratic organisations. It pays particular attention to protocols in cooperative research endeavours. Secondly, the notion of assemblage is used as a technique to map the entities that form protocols. Thirdly, a practice lens is utilised to explore the practices of protocol enactment. I also pay attention to the control mechanisms and practices of branding and organisational story telling that entangle protocols in bureaucratic settings.

This thesis makes unique contributions to the field of knowledge in a number of ways. Firstly, through utilising the concept of assemblages this thesis presents a method for analysing protocols that pay attention to entities, and material and expressions that form them. Secondly, the presentation of a typology of protocol enactment (based on gatekeeping, guardianship and gatecrashing) provides a tool that actors can use to understand their own research practices. Lastly, this thesis contributes to building a body of knowledge on protocols. In this regard it provides hooks on which others can anchor their analysis and can critically engage in a debate on ‘what are protocols?’ and ‘how do protocols operate in practice?’

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Management and Governance
Supervisor(s): Trees, Kathryn
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year