Aboriginal Environments Research Colloquium
1 March 2007
“Social lnscription and the Development of Identity in a Dynamic Environment, Wellesley Islands, Gulf of Carpentaria”
The Lardil, Kaiadilt and Yangkaal Aboriginal people of the Wellesley Islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria are connected to their dynamic island landscapes through processes of social inscription. These processes have both physical and non-physical dimensions, and are reflective of the groups’ individual and collective notions of cultural identity. In this paper I will draw on two case studies - fluctuating sea levels during the late Holocene and a major flood during the late 1800s - to explore the ways in which major climatic events are incorporated into Lardil, Kaiadilt and Yangkaal cosmologies through social inscription. This presentation will fulfil the function of my Research Seminar under the School of Geography, Planning and Architecture Ph.D. Confirmation of Candidacy Process.
"The Configuration of a Cross-Cultural Theory of 'Architecture' - Exploring the Treatise"
The aim of this paper is to explore how a theoretical framework of ‘architecture’ might be configured, which would serve as a cross-cultural tool to understanding the nature of constructed and composed environments used as human habitats across all cultural contexts. A corollary of this question is why the Western concept of ‘architecture’ has so far not achieved such a unifying position, at times excluding non-Western and Indigenous building traditions? Contemplation on the qualities and properties of people’s architectures and building traditions, requires that our attention, as well as our sample of data, address all human landscapes, in all historic periods. Such a construct of architecture cannot be dominated by period aesthetics or popular Eurocentric philosophies, but must be useful for both theoretical and practical application to all human settlements.
4 April 2007
“Theoretical and Methdological underpinnings of Research into Aboriginal Places in Urban Brisbane”
Kelly will outline some of the theoretical and methodological approaches to be used in forthcoming fieldwork and the larger PhD project. Rather than outlining the research plan of the entire PhD (which will be available as a written paper), the aim of the seminar is to explore the theories and methods associated with decolonisation and reflexivity, and apply these to examples based on literature and archival research. The use of these theoretical positions and methodologies will also be discussed in terms of future research and fieldwork.
“Settlement and Occupation of the Wellesley Islands, southern Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia”
The Wellesley Islands, southern Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia, are a culturally diverse landscape representing some 15 islands and may play a central role in understanding early Aboriginal lifeways in Australia. A study of the Wellesley Islands has the potential to contribute to our ideas about the colonisation of Australia and the adaptive capabilities of modern humans to large-scale environmental changes. My research will draw on anthropological, linguistic, ethnohistorical, genetic and geomorphological research and will particularly build on the limited archaeological data of the region. The Wellesley Islands have undergone four centuries of observations and research, with ethnographic records from early researchers such as W.E. Roth and Norman B. Tindale and observations from Mathew Flinders all accompanied by extensive local oral histories of the Yangkaal, Kaiadilt and Lardil. The Wellesley Islands provide a pivotal case study in furthering our knowledge of Australian prehistory.
19 September 2007
"Delivering ‘Healthy Housing’ to Aboriginal people in North West Queensland’ – determining the impacts of housing on community health & wellbeing"
This research is concerned with developing approaches to the implementation of appropriate housing policies and programs, with sufficient and effective consultation and negotiation processes within a holistic perspective, that adapt to and provide long term, quality, secure, affordable and culturally-appropriate housing. I shall argue that to achieve these goals, it is also important to have well-balanced planning of social and emotional well-being services, which in turn, support the Aboriginal community and complement its housing goals.
“Architectural Tradition as a Product of Tourism: Reproducing Aboriginal Built Environments in the 21st Century”
In the Wet Tropics region of North-eastern Australia in the twentieth century, Dyirbalngan people maintained their indigenous building traditions despite colonisation and modernity. Drawing on fieldwork with Dyirbalngan, this seminar examines the transformative effects of tourism on tradition. In the twenty-first century, tourism is perhaps the only viable method of conserving traditional architectural knowledge. But without cultural, historical or geographic contexts, the commodified form that is reproduced for tourism rarely represents the building traditions embedded in ‘country’.
31 October 2007
(Guest Speaker, Desert Knowledge CRC & C.A.T.)
"Coping with Complexity: Adaptation of the Governance System of Aboriginal Affairs in Desert Australia"
Governance in Aboriginal settlements in desert Australia is changing at an unprecedented rate. Aboriginal leaders and community managers describe the change as bewildering, with ever-revolving actors and agencies and increasing quantities of administration. Governments and their agents are preoccupied with finding linear ‘solutions’ to new conceptualisations of the ‘problem’ and packaging these for vertical implementation. However, governance in practice involves multi-dimensional adaptations of a complex system, which cannot be understood by dividing the system into its constituent parts. Through the lens of complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory, this paper explores three parameters with the potential to improve adaptation of the system to local feedback: (1) subsidiarity against different levels in the governance system would realise a better match between functions and local capacity; (2) connectivity would improve information flows and relationships between agents in the system, as a necessary precursor for informed decision-making; and (3) accountability, when taken beyond simplistic notions of financial reporting, would identify power relationships across the system and indicate where actors may exercise greater influence in the system. These parameters promote a shift in perspective from controlling a system assumed to be linear and static to enhancing the capacity of actors to understand and then positively influence a dynamic complex system.
(PhD candidate, The University of Queensland)
"Spaces and Places in Childhood - Theory and Fieldwork Methodology"
The study of children’s environments has been conducted within multiple disciplines using a broad range of methodological techniques. In this research, which situates itself within the disciplines of Architecture, Environmental Behaviour and Environmental Psychology, it is imperative that the methodologies applied to the fieldwork component are accumulating data which relates back to the research aims. This seminar presentation will revisit the research aims and theoretical perspectives, with particular focus on ‘affordance’, and will realign these with the fieldwork methodologies and the collected data of the past eight months. The theoretical and fieldwork developments discussed within this presentation hopes to generate further discussion and advice from its audience. The research is focused in the Aboriginal Community of Cherbourg in south-east Queensland.
(PhD candidate, The University of Queensland)
"Fieldwork Methodology, Practices and some Initial Outcomes from Inala Urban Indigenous Community Fieldwork"
Kelly will discuss the fieldwork methodologies and practices that are being used in her current fieldwork setting, which is in the Indigenous community in Inala in outer south-west Brisbane. The seminar aims to be a reflexive examination of how the fieldwork is progressing, what can be learned from the practices so far, and initial outcomes for the research to date. It is intended to generate discussion on fieldwork issues with more experienced researchers, as well as those currently planning or undertaking fieldwork.
20 November 2007
Dr Norm Sheehan
(Guest Speaker, ATSI Studies Unit, UQ)
"Indigenous Social Science – Design Research Futures"
One problematic context for social science is that it is a project that attempts to study society in much the same way as science studies nature. This project is problematic from an Indigenous standpoint because of the fictive models that are often presented within this contextualization. Everything that moves makes tracks in Indigenous Knowledge (IK) terms and the same is true for social movements. Indigenous Knowledge employs the actualities of movements within natural systems as models for understanding the social. In this seminar the IK conception [structure] will be described and proposed as a way to perceive the movement of a social whole.
"Legal and Cultural history as a context for negotiation"
The tools we bring to the negotiation table are set by our background. What Aboriginal and other parties hope to achieve in negotiation is often influenced to a great extent by historical, legal and cultural circumstances. This paper briefly outlines the intersections between the history of native title/land rights and the history of the pastoral industry. This junction between pastoral and cultural is prominent in the minds of many of the parties at negotiation tables. The parties measure success in negotiation against an historic rule of thumb.
"Implementation and outcomes of the Granites mining agreement with Aboriginal people"
The primary aim of the research is to explore the key factors affecting the outcomes of agreements between Aboriginal people and mining companies. The research focuses on a single case study - the Granites goldmine in the Northern Territory - and will: examine the mining agreement and related agreements, including the content, purpose and the context in which they were negotiated; evaluate the implementation of the agreements; document the outcomes of the agreements whether positive or negative; and seek to identify the critical relationships that contributed to achieve positive outcomes for both Aboriginal people and the mining company.