Place and praxis: valuing Australian Indigenous place in landscape architecture practice

Orr-Young, J 2012, Place and praxis: valuing Australian Indigenous place in landscape architecture practice, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Architecture and Design, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Place and praxis: valuing Australian Indigenous place in landscape architecture practice
Author(s) Orr-Young, J
Year 2012
Abstract ‘Place and Praxis’ explores concepts of ‘place’ that will inform landscape architecture theory and practice in an Australian context. It examines both Western and Indigenous perspectives of ‘place’, searching for possible points of contact between the different world-views. Thus, a (Western) concept of place as a-priori to ‘space’ supports an Australian Aboriginal epistemology and ontology, (while an alternative concept of ‘place’ as made by humans out of ‘space’ continues the colonial project). A recognition of Australian Aboriginal cultures in everyday ‘place’ leads to critiques of contemporary practice that find opportunities for reconciliatory actions and the decolonising of landscape architecture practice.

In Australia, the discipline of landscape architecture has historically looked to imported models of theory and practice for its knowledge base. In this way it inadvertently supports a continuing Western hegemony of colonialism, at the expense of the recognition of diverse Indigenous ontologies and epistemologies. The resulting denial of authentic ‘place’ reverberates in practice, denying landscape architecture an authentic basis.

The research findings are presented in the context of a continuing journey of coming to know another world view, informed by a growing body of Indigenist researchers and critical reflection on practice. I find that ‘place’, approached in the context of a ‘more-than-human world’ by a phenomenological method, leads us to abandon old concepts of ‘place’ - as separate, objective, static and controlled by humans - in favour of an ‘essence of place’ that is storied, ‘lively’ and fosters ‘connection’. This model posits ‘place’ as an eco-centric concern and the basis for actions of care. My model of ‘praxis’ has developed in response to my changed outlook as [‘provocation ~ contemplation in ‘place’ ~ journaling and critical reflection ~ dialogue ~ document research ~ practice’]. It allows an expanded practice, beyond the confines of a project brief, enabling ‘works’ that support reconciliation and decolonisation, even in writing itself.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Architecture and Design
Keyword(s) place
landscape architecture
praxis
phenomenology
Australia
Indigenous
reconciliation
decolonisation
‘essence of place’
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Created: Fri, 12 Oct 2012, 10:04:19 EST by Brett Fenton
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