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 2009 Research Seminars and Colloquia


Aboriginal Environments Research Colloquium

20 February, 2009

Speaker 1:
Adjunct Assoc Mark Moran
(Head of Australian Programs World Vision)
“The Role of International Non-Government Organisations in Indigenous Affairs: Case Study of a Homeownership Project in Mapoon”

International non-government organisations are becoming increasingly active in Indigenous Affairs. The Australia Program of World Vision Australia has recently released a three year strategic plan, and is expanding its programs in the areas of economic development, early childhood, youth development, and climate change.  In comparison to international development practice, the major challenge faced by NGOs in Australia is to find a strategic input into a saturated and complex institutional landscape. The Mapoon Homeownership Project has recently started, which serves as a useful case study of how an NGO can operate in this context.  It also demonstrates how research can be used effectively as an advocacy strategy to bring about change in government.

Speaker 2:
Tim O'Rourke
(PhD candidate, The University of Queensland)
“Indigenous settlement patterns in the Tully/Cardwell district at the threshold of colonization”

Fieldwork in the Tully River district, in the wet tropics, reveals a fragile continuity of Girramay and Jirrbal building traditions that clearly link recently demonstrated skills and knowledge to 19th century ethno-historical descriptions of dwellings. The thesis uses this combination of fieldwork and archival data to describe a distinctive repertoire of dwellings, inextricably linked to the ecologies of the region, which maintain (or perhaps have assumed) high symbolic value and some limited economic value as elements of cultural tourism. The available data is less conclusive on the demography and settlement patterns of the Girramaygan and Jirrbalngan at the threshold of colonisation. The purpose of this seminar is to present a speculative and incomplete, descriptive model of this classical built environment for discussion and critique.

Three minute thesis presentations:

Malcolm Connolly (MPhil)
“Burning Spinifex: A study of the ecology of Triodia pungens and sustainable burning and harvesting practices”

Angela Kreutz (PhD)
“Children’s experience of space and place in the Aboriginal Community of Cherbourg”

Cameo Dalley (PhD)
“We Mix with Our Own: The Transformation of Social Organization and Emergence of New Aboriginal Identities on Mornington Island, Gulf of Carpentaria”


20 February, 2009


Speaker 1:
Angela Kreutz
(PhD candidate, The University of Queensland)
"Research with Children: A Research Study of Children’s Experience of Space and Place with the Aboriginal Community of Cherbourg and the Implementation of Appropriate Methods”


20 May, 2009

Speaker 1:
Dr Deidre Brown
(School of Architecture & Planning, University of Auckland)
“The Inventiveness of Tradition”

Revolution and Revival in Postcolonial Maori Architecture”
Since the arrival and settlement of Pakeha (Europeans), Maori architecture has undergone periods of revolutionary innovation and customary revival. This seminar reviews these processes within their social, spiritual and political contexts and with a particular focus on the contemporary situation.

Speaker 2:
James Davidson
(PhD candidate, The University of Queensland)
“Casas de Paja: Maya House Architectures, Traditions and Transformations”  [PhD findings]

Speaker 3:
Craig Jones
(PhD candidate, The University of Queensland)
“Cloud Illusions:  Negotiation involving Aboriginal Peoples”

The Australian Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs recently (3/4/09) outlined Australia’s support for the United Nations Declaration of the Civil and Political Rights of Indigenous People. This document provides a basis for a rights-based approach to negotiation with Indigenous peoples. In particular, the notion of “free, prior and informed consent” sets the standard for land related negotiations with Indigenous peoples.
 
Negotiations have for the most part been conducted in an adversarial context as a result of the rights-based approach. Indeed, the most common method, despite the many emotional and cultural intangibles, has been simple horse-trading with a view to achieving a simple cost effective and time efficient method of getting to the settlement zone. In Australia this method has resulted in a significant degree of inconsistency in agreement making with Aboriginal peoples.
 
This paper proposes that an interest-based approach to negotiation with Aboriginal peoples can be effective in delivering mutually beneficial outcomes to parties. The creation of a non-adversarial negotiation table with discussion focused on the interests of the parties can achieve, in a practical sense, the rights based aspiration of free, prior and informed consent.  The creation of the negotiation table allows for all parties to establish a practical method for achieving free prior and informed consent on development matters.

Speaker 4:
Cameo Dalley
(PhD candidate, The University of Queensland)
“The Articulation of Relatedness in Domains in the Town of Gununa, Mornington Island”

This paper will present a synopsis of two case-study chapters from my PhD thesis which is generally concerned with the articulation of relatedness in spatial contexts (after Martin 1993). First, I will examine the Gununa town context as a whole and the physical structuring of Aboriginal and White residences. In doing so I argue, against Holcombe (2005:224), that the concept of ‘domain’ developed by von Sturmer, Trigger and Rowse continues to have relevance in a contemporary remote Aboriginal township. As I will demonstrate, my focus on ‘domains’ is complementary, not incompatible, with Merlan’s (1998 see also Hinkson and Smith 2005) concept of the ‘intercultural’. The continuing reproduction of domains in this context has facilitated intense bonds of relatedness to be formed, particularly within the Aboriginal domain(s). Such relatedness in the Aboriginal domain(s) is crafted here as the product of kinship links and residential proximity. [PhD structure – overview and preliminary findings]

Three minute thesis presentations:

Malcolm Connolly (MPhil)
“Burning Spinifex: A study of the ecology of Triodia pungens and sustainable burning and harvesting practices”

Tim O'Rourke (PhD)
“ Girramay and Jirrbal building traditions across three centuries”

Jenine Godwin (PhD)
“Understanding Aboriginal perceptions on housing and well-being in Dajarra"


9 September, 2009

Speaker 1:
Dr Marcel Vellinga
(Guest Speaker)
“The Inventiveness of Tradition”

Bio
Dr Marcel Vellinga holds a PhD in cultural anthropology from Leiden University. He has research and teaching experience in the fields of anthropology of architecture and international vernacular architecture studies. He has published books and articles on Indonesian vernacular architecture, sustainable building and the position of vernacular architecture in the twenty-first century. He has most recently co-authored, with Paul Oliver and Alexander Bridge, the /Atlas of Vernacular Architecture of the World/ (Routledge, 2007). Marcel Vellinga is Director of the International Vernacular Architecture Unit at Oxford Brookes University and Co-Director of the Paul Oliver Vernacular Architecture Library. He is also Research Coordinator and Postgraduate Research Tutor in the Department of Architecture at Oxford Brookes.

Speaker 2:
Dr Paul Memmott
“Cultural change and tradition in the architecture of Oceania”

This paper contributes to architectural cultural change theory, drawing on papers from a previous IASTE Conference (Bangkok) in which global processes of cultural change were broadly addressed under the theme of ‘hyper-tradition’, and a further corpus of research on South Pacific indigenous architecture, as contributed by scholars of the Society of Architectural Historians of Australia New Zealand (SAHANZ) over the period 1984-2008. Theoretical contributions are made on (a) forms of transformation of traditions occurring through deterritorialization, (b) types of biculturalism involving synthesized cross-cultural architectural attributes, and (c) the significance of the social engagement process in the reconstruction of tradition.

Speaker 3:
Daniel Rosendahl
(PhD candidate, The University of Queensland)

“Shells of Monumental Proportions: The archaeology of the Sandalwood River, Mornington Island”

The first systematic archaeological survey of the Wellesley Islands, increasing the number of recorded archaeological sites in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria from only a few to over 200. Focusing on a large saltpan embayment on the central north Coast of Mornington Island, with evidence of continuous occupation for the past 2500 years, my research aims to investigate past human-environment interactions during periods of fluctuating sea-levels and local landscape formation and stabilisation. This research essentially provides insight into how the ancestors to the contemporary Wellesley islanders responded to local environmental and climatic change.

Speaker 4:
Mary-Jean Sutton
(PhD candidate, incoming, The University of Queensland)

“Places of shared history:  Exploring the significance of mission camps and villages and government settlements to communities in Queensland”

Mission camps and villages and government settlements are significant places with a history of shared interaction between indigenous and non-indigenous communities.  These places are underrepresented on existing State and Commonwealth heritage databases as they fall between the boundaries of indigenous and historical heritage legislation.  The research proposal centres on exploring the concept of significance of mission camps and villages and government settlements in Queensland to indigenous and non-indigenous communities. The thesis will include an investigation of how contemporary communities engage with these places and wider cultural landscape (for example, are buildings reused, are certain areas conserved and protected etc). The thesis will also examine how changes in power relations within these places affected or changed their value and significance to communities over time.  Research questions regarding power, significance and interaction in these places will be considered and analysed against wider academic literature (regional, national and international).  

These questions will be investigated through the selection of one to two case studies for detail historical archival research, community consultation, archaeological and architectural survey and oral history recording and documentation.  Potential outcomes for the research project include an inventory of buildings and places within mission camps and government settlements which could be used as a baseline study for further development, repatriation of historical records to indigenous communities and documentation of cultural heritage sites for further management and potential listing.   The purpose of the presentation is to discuss the proposed research design, and methodology, possible case studies for the project, potential outcomes of the project and gain further input.

Three minute thesis presentations:

Tim O'Rourke (PhD)
“ Girramay and Jirrbal building traditions across three centuries”

Malcolm Connolly (MPhil)
“Burning Spinifex: A study of the ecology of Triodia pungens and sustainable burning and harvesting practices” 


26 November, 2009

Speaker 1:
Dr Lynley Wallis
(Senior Research Fellow, AERC)
“Archaeology and Palaeoenvironments in Northwest Queensland: Past, Present and Future Research Interests”

Dr Lynley Wallis  who recently joined the AERC as a Senior Research Fellow specialises in Indigenous archaeology and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction through the application of phytolith (microscopic particles of silica produced by plants) analysis.   Since 2000 she has been working collaboratively with members of the Woolgar Valley Aboriginal Corporation around the township of Richmond, excavating rock shelters and open sites to explore the nature of 30,000+ years of occupation in the region, investigating rock art , and with Ian Moffat (ANU) pioneering the use of non-invasive geophysical techniques for detecting and documenting sub-surface archaeological remains. She is particularly interested in human-environment interactions through the
Late Quaternary period, and how people responded to the challenges presented by long-term climate change.

In addition to her current research program in the semi-arid zone, she also has research interests in coastal archaeology, working with Robin Sim on Vanderlin Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Coorong in South Australia. In this introductory seminar Lynley will talk about her broad research interests, her current research at Middle Park Station and future avenues for research at Camooweal through her position at AERC.

Speaker 2:
Anne Burgess
(PhD candidate, University of Sydney)
“Aboriginal Stories of Victoria Park Project”

Aboriginal histories of the land known as Victoria Park, Camperdown, began before time was written, before the British landed and claimed it as their own. New histories continue to be laid over this place, but many of these histories remain unseen. This presentation will introduce my research proposal upgrade from Master of Philosophy to PhD based on the ‘Aboriginal Stories of Victoria Park Project’ and also present the background and development of a proposed design project. The Project aims to uncover hidden Aboriginal histories of Victoria Park and to explore ways to reinterpret those stories to reveal Aboriginal place, belonging and identity, and connect these findings into a design proposal for Victoria Park.

Speaker 3:
Kelly Greenop
(PhD candidate, The University of Queensland)
“Place Meaning, Attachment and Identity in Indigenous Inala, Queensland”

This talk will discuss a model of place which has been developed from literature and fieldwork, and its applicability to particular geographical and social areas of Inala. The discussion centres around particular locations within Inala that have come to have meaning, attachment and place identity for some Indigenous people. There is relevance to recent International debates on the scales of place to which attachment is being attributed, with the Inala example being a case of attachment and identification with the neigbourhood scale of place. This presentation was recently given at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Conference 'Perspectives on urban life: connections and reconnections'.

Speaker 4:
Malcolm Connolly
(MPhil candidate, The University of Queensland)
“A study of the ecology of Triodia pungens and sustainable spinifex burning and harvesting practices” [working title only].