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 2008 Research Seminars and Colloquia


Aboriginal Environments Research Colloquium

19 March 2008

Speaker 1:
Jenine Godwin
(PhD candidate)

“The impacts of Housing on Health in Aboriginal communities in North West Queensland”

The relationship of how we use and function within our home, together with, the provision and delivery of appropriate, health and housing, are fundamental to the overall well-being of Aboriginal individuals and their communities.  Evidence from a range of reports including the 2006 CHIP Report, and the Prime Minister’s declaration on the 13th February 2008, for an ‘effective housing strategy for remote communities over the next five years’, still highlight that remote Aboriginal housing is in serious disrepair.   These reports primarily claim and identify physical infrastructural problems.  This research will explore the underlying meaning of a ‘healthy house’, specifically examining how Aboriginal housing impacts on selected social dimensions of health, e.g. overcrowding, cultural norms, dynamics and roles of gender. 

The research will focus on the communities of Dajarra, Urandangi and surrounding populations that are kin to the area. It will seek to understand and apply an Aboriginal worldview of living and connection to land - ways of ‘being, knowing and doing’, with an aim of informing an appropriate model and policy for housing and health practices.  The commonly held concept within Aboriginal Medical Services throughout Australia is that,  ‘traditional’ Aboriginal health is multi-dimensional and embraces all aspects of life and living - it is a holistic perspective underpinned by a sense of community that contributes to a sense of identity.  To date, there has been no large-scale survey of Aboriginal Australians to establish their perceptions of good and bad health or to substantiate such a concept. Therefore, this research will challenge and question this commonly held concept, through an analysis of the lived experiences relevant to ‘healthy housing’ from the people in the study communities. This is the empirical significance of the research.    

Speaker 2:
Rodger Barnes
(MPhil candidate)

“The implementation and outcomes of The Granites mining agreement with Aboriginal landowners in Central Australia.”

Agreements between Aboriginal people and mining companies are used increasingly as a means to mitigate social impacts of exploration and mining and to provide benefits to Aboriginal stakeholders. While much effort and resources are invested in the drafting and negotiation of mining agreements there is generally less consideration given to how agreements are to be implemented once the agreement is signed. The presentation describes a research proposal that examines the implementation of a mining agreement between Aboriginal people and a mining company in the Northern Territory. The research focuses on a single longitudinal case study at The Granites gold mine in the Tanami region of central Australia where Newmont Mining Corporation has agreements with the Central Land Council on behalf of the Warlpiri traditional Aboriginal landowners. The primary aim of the research is to explore some of the key factors affecting the outcomes of exploration and mining agreements between Aboriginal people and mining companies.
 


20 May 2008

Speaker 1:
Angela Kreutz
(PhD candidate, The University of Queensland)

“Hypermedia”.  This seminar will be a descriptive representation on a form of contemporary ethnography: hypermedia.

Hypermedia is a combination of written theoretical and descriptive narratives with audio visual and photographic representations of knowledge and experience that can be communicated (audio) visually. It allows visual materials to be framed in ways that are meaningful for their target audiences and creates texts that reference and converse with existing bodies of knowledge. It functions as a multi-dimensional, non-linear, user-directed publication that may include field notes, various methodologically-informed analyses, citations,, film and video sequences, photographs, audio recordings, and recorded music. Predominantly used in ethnographic and social research this seminar presentation will reveal examples of the implementation of hypermedia in various research projects, as well as relating it back to the researcher’s own disciplinary focus and analysing how hypermedia may complement the written thesis; Children’s experience of space and place in the Aboriginal community of Cherbourg.

Speaker 2:
Craig Jones
(PhD candidate)

“Australian pastoral and cultural landscapes: A history of conflict and opportunity”

The vast majority of the Australian continent is simultaneously susceptible to native title and the pastoral mode of production. The coincidence has led to a historical, legal, economic and cultural coexistence. Many writers have portrayed the pastoral industry as a simple tool of colonialism; a capitalist mode of production brought to bear with dramatic consequences on a hunter-gatherer mode of production. May has argued that this is too simple a picture and that Aborigines far from being simply oppressed accommodated the pastoral industry and used it to manage the impact of colonialism upon their culture and their environment. The final legal determination that native title was not extinguished by pastoral leases is perhaps a testament to this accommodation. This history is also what Aboriginal peoples and non-Aboriginal people bring to the negotiation table. Their different cultural affiliations with landscape play a significant role in what is eventually included in agreements and how agreements are implemented.

Speaker 3:
Kelly Greenop
(PhD candidate, The University of Queensland)

“Uncanny Brisbane: new ways of looking at urban Indigenous place”

Kelly Greenop is a PhD Candidate in the Aboriginal Environments Research Centre.
This presentation is a paper accepted for the SAHANZ (Society of Architectural Historian of Australia and New Zealand) Conference in July, 2008. It examines the concept of the uncanny and how it can be applied to a re-examination of Indigenous place and place systems in contemporary urban environments.


18 June 2008

Speaker 1:
Paul Memmott & James Davidson
“Indigenous Culture and Architecture in the South Pacific Region: 25 Years of SAHANZ research”

Through an analysis of over 100 papers presented at conferences of the ‘Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand’ (SAHANZ), and published in its journal Fabrications, this retrospective study examines the development of architectural history and theory within SAHANZ, with reference to the Indigenous cultures of the South Pacific. Over the last 25 years, SAHANZ researchers have departed from an earlier Eurocentric preoccupation with the region’s historiography to a broadening set of cross-cultural themes that move beyond commentary about the influences of these Indigenous groups on transported colonial architectural styles from the 1800s, to more complex issues about the representation of Indigenous cultural identity in contemporary architecture, and the processes of cultural change and transforming Indigenous architectural traditions. Gradual infusion of scholarly contributions from disciplines such as architectural anthropology, cultural studies, history, political science and fine arts into the debate, has culminated in a sustained revision of what architecture is in the South Pacific and how cross-cultural theory may serve the region’s architectural production in a socially and environmentally appropriate manner, reflecting the ongoing presence and cultural significance of the first peoples.


Speaker 2:
Daniel Rosendahl

(PhD candidate, The University of Queensland)
“That's the Way it Changes Like the Shoreline and the Sea”

Preliminary archaeological results from the 2007 and 2008 fieldtrips to Mornington and Bentinck Islands in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria. This presentation will include notes on the array of site types recorded, six excavations across the North and South Wellesleys, preliminary palaeoenvironmental reconstruction using the large black-lipped oyster as a sea-level proxy and future research directions.


Speaker 3:
Cameo Dalley

(PhD candidate, The University of Queensland)
“Rations of Resistance: Hunting and Fishing Through Time and the Mornington Island Mission, Gulf of Carpentaria”
 
The Mornington Island Mission was established in 1914 by the Presbyterian minister, Reverend Hall and ushered in a period of colonialism which lasted sixty years. The Mission housed children from the Lardil, Yangkaal, Waanyi, Gangalidda, Garrawa, and later Kaiadilt (1947-48) Aboriginal language groups, placing them into new social and cultural relationships with one another. Although the children removed to the Mission were prevented from practicing many aspects of their culture (e.g. language), they were able to continue hunting and fishing to augment Mission supplies. Missionaries set up a bartering system with parents of the Missionary children and other residents of the nearby town camp. Children were also released from the Mission confines for school holidays to go hunting and fishing and these times became vital for cultural transmission and as mechanisms for ensuring connections to country and family. Previous published anthropological texts from this region have tended to focus on detailing culture traits prior to the arrival of Missionaries, while others have focused on interpreting the negative impacts of missionary culture on 'traditional' culture. Writings by a number of Aboriginal authors have called for more balanced interpretations of history through the recognition of forms of Aboriginal cultural resilience and resistance which may be ‘multifaceted, visible and invisible, conscious and unconscious, explicit and covert, intentional and unintentional’ (Moreton-Robinson 2003:128). Using a photographic collection taken in and around the Mission in 1936, we will explore hunting and fishing activities as expressions of cultural resilience and resistance. The photographs demonstrate that people were active in maintaining and expressing their cultural identities ‘within the mission landscape’ (Lydon 2005:13). A version of this paper was presented in a session titled 'The Archaeology of Aboriginal Missions' at the Australian Archaeological Association Conference, Sydney, September 2007.


3 September 2008

SPECIAL THEME:  Towards Novel Biomimetic Building Materials: Evaluating Aboriginal and Western Scientific Knowledge of Spinifex Grasses (ARC Discovery Project)

Biomimetic theory advocates drawing from nature to find new technical solutions. This project will apply and advance biomimetic theory and produce practical outcomes in the context of Aboriginal traditional knowledge and new materials. Spinifex grasses have been largely ignored as a sustainable resource, despite their widespread distribution throughout Australia, and unique biology that has evolved within harsh environments. This project examines material properties and sustainable applications for spinifex using innovative methodology. Aboriginal traditional knowledge combines with Western science to evaluate spinifex properties in the context of traditional Aboriginal uses, ecology, sustainable harvesting, and novel biomimetic materials.

The project contributes to an environmentally sustainable Australia by examining the potential value of a hitherto ignored natural resource and assessing its usage with sustainable harvesting. Aboriginal knowledge and Western science will be combined to identify potential technological applications for a widespread but uniquely Australian resource. The project promotes the well-being and health of Aboriginal people through seeking out a new economic enterprise for remote area groups. This project examines the material properties of spinifex, specifically for new building industry applications, both in its natural state and replicated as a synthesized biomimetic material.

Speaker 1:
Paul Memmott

Brief synopsis of project

Speaker 2:
Tim O'Rourke

(PhD candidate, The University of Queensland)
Summary of proposed building experiments at Camooweal (School of GPA)

Speaker 3:
Malcolm Connolly
(MPhil candidate, The University of Queensland)
Working title: Aboriginal Use of Spinifex and the Camooweal Research (new MPhil research)

Speaker 4:
Nick Flutter and Darren Martin

Laboratory analysis of spinifex as a potential innovative biomimetic material at the AIBN (M.Arch Thesis and project research)

Speaker 5:
Harshi Gamage (with Susanne Schmidt)

Microscopy of Triodia pungens - progress report (School of Integrative Biology)


26 November 2008

 

Speaker 1:
Jenine Godwin

"Health findings that impact on the understandings of lifestyles within Aboriginal housing, in Dajarra and Urandangi"

Dajarra and Urandangi communities experience complex forms of housing and living options.  Hence they adapt to what they have (in comparison to most people’s standards), and they grow up in an environment assuming the way they are living is ‘normal’.

Early findings from fieldwork have highlighted distinctive and complex constructs of housing, that are experienced on a daily basis, by community members living in these communities.    The fieldwork supported further, the sentiment that ‘if basic living necessities are not available, ill health is inevitable’.  This is demonstrated through the following identified themes of living understandings and behaviours of Aboriginal people in housing.  These include the following:
•    Overcrowding
•    Wind & Dust
•    Fencing
•    External Living

Speaker 2:
Rodger Barnes

"Preliminary findings on the implementation and outcomes of the Granites mining agreement with Aboriginal landowners"

Presentation of early thesis findings of research into the Granites mining agreement between Aboriginal landowners and Newmont mining company in central Australia. The project is a single longitudinal case study of the implementation of the agreement and aims to explore some of the key factors affecting the outcomes of the agreement. Data collection is nearing completion and some preliminary results of the participant interviews will be discussed.

Three minute thesis presentations:

Kelly Greenop
“Inala Days: Reflections of 18 months of fieldwork”

Daniel Rosendahl
“A Mound in a Million”

Jemaima Le Grand
 “Social capital inherent in land ownership social structures - current readings”