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 2005 Research Colloquia

Research Colloquium 1


Stephen Long Gidyea Fires and Cultural Heritage
This paper reported on the conclusions to the Phd thesis entitled ‘Gidyea Fire: A study of the transformation and maintenance of Aboriginal place properties on the Georgina River, Northwest Queensland’. The thesis is concerned with Aboriginal cultural heritage legislation and its relevance to the ‘everyday’ experiences of place of Aboriginal people in Queensland. The thesis contributes to knowledge of the specific nature of Indigenous cultural heritage through an investigation of the place properties of the Dajarra Aboriginal community for whom the Georgina River is a heartland in their geography. (PhD conclusions)

Angela Kreutz (incoming PhD student) Space Perceptions of the Aboriginal people
My PhD thesis researches into the space perceptions of Indigenous Australians. This research will focus on the traditional Aboriginal lifestyles, those who are closely linked to their traditional culture. How does their culture influence their space perception, and how is this perception expressed? In answering these and other such questions I aim to describe their perception of space and their connection to their natural environment, through their belief system, art, language, song, religious beliefs etc.

Kelly Greenop (incoming PhD student) Urban Aboriginal Place Values
The research is in the stage of formulation of topic and thesis question. Current ideas and issues being explored in this process are: 1. What were traditional Aboriginal place values in what is now urban Brisbane? 2. Do these values or remnants of them persist? 3. How are the place values of others which now occupy these areas affected by contemporary Aboriginal place values? and 4. What planning, social and architectural issues do these overlapping values bring forth?

Kevin O’Brien M.Phil, Conclusion No.1
Kevin O’Brien presented his findings from Masters by design research on Mer (Murray Island) in the Torres Strait. His three projects were a Community Church, an Elders’ Meeting Place, and a Keeping Place. (M. Phil by Design, work drawing to a conclusion.)

Research Colloquium 2


Guest speaker: Assoc Prof Joseph Reser Where do beauty, truth, and environmental values reside, and why is this an important matter for environment-behaviour professionals?
A serious and escalating problem exists` with respect to the status and meaning of ‘environmental values’. The presentation considers the current diversity of meanings, understandings, and uses involving environmental (and/or heritage) value and values.

Tim O’Rourke(Phd candidate) Aboriginal camps and dwellings in Queensland's Humid Tropics.
The dissertation investigates the past and present uses of Girramay, Gulngay and Jirrbal ethno-architecture in the humid tropics of Queensland. Beginning with a model of the traditional built environment used by classical Aboriginal society, the thesis uses recent fieldwork in the region to trace the continuity of building traditions and the relevance of ethno-architecture to contemporary Dyirbalngan. In the final part of the thesis, Indigenous cultural tourism is examined as a method for conserving this form of cultural knowledge. The purpose of the seminar is to invite comment on the proposed outline of the current thesis structure, and the significance of preliminary findings.

James Davidson (Phd candidate) Architectural Ethnography: the Thesis as it stands.
Davidson’s research focuses primarily on the domiciliary architecture of the Maya peoples of Guatemala and southern Mexico. It is specifically associated with the physical documentation and recording of ‘traditional’ Maya domiciliary environments and broadens this interest to encompass concepts of ‘change’, identity, self- determination, international housing policy and meaning in the built environment. The outcome is the creation of a practical and workable framework for the field of community development in the Maya region, which can potentially be expanded into other areas of built environment research. The significance of this approach is that the practical solution is created through an analysis of the traditional Maya house form. This seminar presents Davidson’s recent work and points to a light at the end of the tunnel.

Guest Commentator: Steve Fisher, Centre for Appropriate Technology, Alice Springs.
Steve is Chief Operating Officer of the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT). Steve is an engineer and a graduate in international development and in management. Since 1990, he has worked in community programs for better technology and services in remote areas.

Research Colloquium 3


Guest speaker: Dr Ian Lilley  Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Unit, University of Queensland.  Indigenous diaspora and decolonisation.
Diaspora is a phenomenon usually associated with people living at a significant remove from their homeland but is emerging as a useful way of approaching the contemporary situations of colonized peoples in settler societies such as Australia.  Although not without problems, the application of diaspora theory to relations between colonized and colonizer could help advance the reconciliation of settler and indigenous interests.

Kelly Greenop (PhD candidate) Historical perspectives on Aboriginal Place Values in Urban Brisbane.
The seminar will be based on a paper to be submitted for the Australian Urban Planning/History Conference  "Past Matters" in Wellington February 2006. The paper looks at Urban Indigenous Place Values in Brisbane at two different times, one during the immediate settlement era of the 1800s, and one (more briefly touched upon) during the 20th Century and beyond. Contemporary Urban Indigenous Place Values is the broad theme for the PhD, and this paper is a first attempt to refine some of the broader ideas, and become familiar with the reading, history and issues that will need to be dealt with.

James Davidson (Phd candidate) Tradition, Change and Meaning.  A reflexive examination of research problem and methods being applied to the study of tradition, change and meaning in contemporary Maya environments.

Research Colloquium 4


Angela Kreutz (PhD candidate) Indigenous Australian Space Perceptions.
There will be two components to this seminar presentation: The first involves a summary of a completed literature review on ‘Time-Space Perceptions’ within both the Indo-European and Australian indigenous cultures. Key features include literature on temporal/spatial experiences and its expressions through various cultural forms, such as social rules, language, painting and so forth. It will also discuss literature relating to the definitions and suggested relationships between space and place, as well as space and time. The second part of the presentation describes the proposed methodology of the PhD thesis and preparation work to this date for possible fieldwork. This section aims to encourage discussion to assist and contribute ideas both towards the methodology and fieldwork.

Kelly Greenop (PhD candidate) Past Matters: Contemporary Urban Aboriginal Place Values in Brisbane.
Kelly Greenop is a part time PhD student who enrolled in March 2005. Her seminar presentation will be a paper which will be presented at the February 2006 Australasian "Urban History/Planning History" conference in Wellington themes "Past Matters". The paper is titled "Contemporary Urban Aboriginal Place Values in Brisbane". The paper is an initial exploration of what place values may have been held by Aboriginal people in what is now Brisbane at first contact with Europeans, and how they may have persisted or changed in the intervening time. It examines this issue using two times slices: a contact era study of Aboriginal place values as witnessed by European explorers and settlers, and recorded in Aboriginal oral history; and a contemporary time slice examining Aboriginal place values from the late 20th Century and into the 2000s. The author aims to uncover a largely forgotten area of Aboriginal culture as much research to date has focused on rural and remote Indigenous issues, and little deep examination of urban place values has been conducted to date.

James Davidson (Phd candidate) Gods, Trees, Monsters, Turtles and the Otherworld: A Search for Meaning.
This seminar is a work in progress.  It forms the basis of a thesis chapter and has two principle aims.  The first being to illustrate the cosmological significance of the Maya house as a reflection of the Maya Creation Story; and the second, to dispel the wider academic myth that these houses are generated solely through an environmental determinism.

Paul Memmott, Tim Seelig & Stephen Long Progress Report on a piece of AHURI research: An audit and review of local and international Indigenous Housing Research.
This project aims to critically review the literature on Indigenous Housing in Australia with a view to (a) conceptualizing the body of knowledge on the subject in theoretically broad and practical, policy relevant ways, and (b) identifying gaps and unresolved research issues that have a direct bearing on the establishing of a reasonable quality of residential lifestyle for Indigenous people.  A particular focus for the research will be literature concerning issues which might assist with or alternatively impede achievement of the goals of the ‘Building a Better Future: Indigenous housing to 2010’ document, which provides a whole-of-government policy framework for the consideration of housing issues.