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02 MAY 2015

Aboriginal People's Relationship to Land

"Every different clan group has stories about their beginnings. Stories are like our archives, detailing how Creator Beings from under the earth arose to shape the land and to create the landscape. There are myriad variations of the story, but the theme stays the same.

The whole surface of the earth was like a moonscape, no features, no flora and fauna, just bare open plain. But there were Creator Beings sleeping in a state of potentiality just under the surface. At a certain time they were disturbed, whereupon their potentiality transformed into actuality and they arose out of the ground. When they finally emerged, they were very big and tall. These beings were spirit ancestors of many of the varieties of flora and fauna, especially large animals, in Australia. When this emergence was completed, the spirit ancestors started to interact with one another, fighting, dancing, running about, making love, killing. All of this activity shaped the Australian landscape as we know it today.

Throughout this period humans remained asleep in various embryonic forms, in a state like a kind of proto-humanity. They were awakened by all the activity above; the Creator Beings helped these proto-humans to become fully human, teaching them the Laws of custodianship of land, the Laws of kinship, of marriage, of correct ceremonies-they gave them every kind of knowledge they needed to look after the land and to have a stable society.

When this work was finished, the Creator Beings went back into the land, where they all still remain in the same eternal sleep from which they awakened at the beginning of time. The locations to which they returned have always been and are still today regarded as very important sacred sites.

Wherever the Creator Beings travelled, they left tracks or some kind of evidence of themselves. These traces determined the identity of the people. In other words, every Aboriginal person has a part of the essence of one of the original creative spirits who formed the Australian landscape. Therefore each person has a charter of custodianship empowering them and making them responsible for renewing that part of the flora and its fauna. The details of this metaphysics varied widely across the land with the physical environment, but the spiritual basis-the understanding that what separates humans from animals is the fact that each human bears a creative and spiritual identity which still resides in land itself-provided and still provides in many places the religious, social, political and economic force throughout Aboriginal Australia."

(Mary Graham, 2008)

Australian Humanities Review 45 (November 2008): "Mary Graham: Philosophical Underpinnings of Aboriginal Worldviews". This essay was originally published in Worldviews: Environment, Culture, Religion 3 (1999): 105-118.

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Aboriginal Australia • Aboriginal mythology • Aboriginal worldviews • ancestral beings • Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL) • Australian Humanities Review (AHR) • Australian landscape • beginnings • belonging • charter of custodianship • clan • clan group • creation narrative • creative and spiritual identity • Creator Beings • custodianship • customs • embryonic forms • eternal sleep • fauna • florafolkloreIndigenous Australians • Juanita Bailey • Kombu-merri person • landland custodianshiplandmarkslandscape • Lilla Watson • Lin Morrow • Mary Grahammetaphysics • open plain • origin mythphysical environment • potentiality • proto-human • proto-humanity • sacred sites • spirit ancestors • symbolic placetimeless time • under the earth • under the surface • worldview

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
01 MAY 2015

Berta Cáceres 2015 Goldman Prize Recipient South and Central America

"In a country with growing socioeconomic inequality and human rights violations, Berta Cáceres rallied the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam.

(Goldman Environmental Foundation)

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2015 • Agua Zarca Dam • Berta Caceres • blockade • Central America • community resistance • consultation • COPINH • dam • demand for cheap energy • Desarrollos Energeticos SA (DESA) • disenfranchised people • displaced indigenous communities • environmental activist • environmental impactenvironmentalist • environmentally destructive projects • Goldman Environmental Foundation • grassroots campaign • Gualcarque River • Hondurashuman rights • human rights activist • human rights violationIndigenous communities • indigenous rights • inspirational leader • Inter-American Human Rights Commission • International Finance Corporation (IFC) • landland custodianshipLatin America • Lenca people • mining • mining operations • murder • National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras • peaceful protest • Rio Blanco • riversacred sites • Sinohydro • social activist • socioeconomic inequality • South Americasymbolic place • Tomas Garcia • uprooting communities • World Bank

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
21 MARCH 2015

Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space

"A gallery is constructed along laws as rigorous as those for build­ing a medieval church. The outside world must not come in, so windows are usually sealed off. Walls are painted white. The ceil­ing becomes the source of light. The wooden floor is polished so that you click along clinically, or carpeted so that you pad soundlessly, resting the feet while the eyes have at the wall. The art is free, as the saying used to go, 'to take on its own life.' The discreet desk may be the only piece of furniture. In this context a standing ashtray becomes almost a sacred object, just as the firehose in a modern museum looks not like a firehose but an esthetic conundrum. Modernism's transposition of perception from life to formal values is complete. This, of course, is one of modernism's fatal diseases."

(Brian O'Doherty, 1986)

Brian O'Doherty (1986). "Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space", The Lapis Press.

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1976 • aesthetic conundrum • art is free • artistic modernism • Brian O Doherty • clean design • clean white box • design formalismform and function • formal values • functional formgallery spacesideology of the gallery spaceinterior architecturemedieval church • modern museum • modernist aestheticsmodernist design principlesmorphology • neutral gallery space • neutral space • neutral white box • non-placeobjectivity • painted white • polished wooden floor • programmed useregulationsacred spacessingle-minded spacesspatial configurationspatial literacy • structural features • symbolic place • symbolic structures • Thomas McEvilley • transposition of perception • tyranny of modernism • tyranny of modernist aesthetics • white box • white cube • white wa

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
07 NOVEMBER 2014

Songlines: How Indigenous Australians Use Music to Mark Geography

"There are many different methods of pre–literate navigation that have been documented around the world. One of the most unique, a fusion of navigation and oral mythological storytelling, originated among the indigenous peoples of Australia, who navigated their way across the land using paths called songlines or dreaming tracks. In Aboriginal mythology, a songline is a myth based around localised 'creator–beings' during the Dreaming, the indigenous Australian embodiment of the creation of the Earth. Each songline explains the route followed by the creator–being during the course of the myth. The path of each creator–being is marked in sung lyrics. One navigates across the land by repeating the words of the song or re–enacting the story through dance, which in the course of telling the story also describe the location of various landmarks on the landscape (e.g. rock formations, watering holes, rivers, trees). In some cases, the paths of the creator–beings are said to be evident from their marks on the land (petrosomatoglyphs), such as large depressions in the land which are said to be their footprints (parallels can certainly be seen in some North American First Nation creation stories).

Songlines often came in sequences, much like a symphony or album today. By singing a song cycle in the appropriate order could navigate vast distances, often travelling through the deserts of Australia's interior (a fact which amazed early anthropologists who were stunned by Aborigines that frequently walked across hundreds of kilometres of desert picking out tiny features along the way without error). Each group had its own set of songlines that were passed from generation to generation so that future generations would know how to navigate when in neighbouring tribes' territories. The extensive system of songlines in Australia varied in length from a few kilometres to hundreds of kilometres in length crossing through lands of many different Indigenous peoples. Since a songline can span the lands of several different language groups, different parts of some songlines were in different languages corresponding to the region the songline was navigating through at the time, and thus could only be fully understood by a person speaking all of the languages in the song."

(The Basement Geographer, 21 October 2010)

Fig.1 "What are song lines?" Colin Jones, lecturer in Aboriginal History, talks about his culture, his history and his art. Queensland Rural Medical Education.

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Aboriginal mythologyancestral beings • ancestral heroes • animist belief systemAustralia • Colin Jones • creation narrative • creation spirits • Creator Beingscultural memory • cultural webs of memory • dreaming (spirituality) • dreaming tracks • earth motherFirst AustraliansFirst Nations • genii loci • geographical point • Indigenous Australians • kin-grouping system • kinship • landmarkslandscapelocationmappingmarkers • mythological storytelling • navigation systemnavigational methodsoral historiesorientationorigin myth • paths • petrosomatoglyph • place • point-to-point • pre-literate navigation • pre-literate societiessequences and spatial practisessmooth space • song cycle • songlinesspatial literacyspatial narrativespiritualitysymbolic placeterritorytimeless timetopology • totemic ancestors • voice map • watering holewayfinding

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
18 MARCH 2011

A house is a symbolic place that regulates privacy

"A house is a symbolic place combining paradoxical concepts that can easily be identified as 'binary codes.' Internal and external, private and public, female and male, sacred and profane, clean and dirty are binary codes used to explain roles and activities of people in spaces (Lawrence, 1990; Ünlü, 1999). The spatial configuration of house layouts may be different in different periods, regions, cultures, and societies. Societies establish order in their livelihood spaces and reflect their personalities in these spaces.

There is a mutual relationship between space and human relations. The differences in social systems reveal morphological diversity in house layouts. The family contains the socio–economical structure of society; although it is a small element, it is the cornerstone that forms the future of society. The family needs a specific space, a house, to achieve this function based on their characteristics and the desired level of privacy (Sungur and Çagdas, 2003).

Privacy is a dynamic topological property of space; therefore, it should be approached in an analogous manner. Spaces could be categorized not only depending on their degree of privacy, but also according to their capacity to regulate privacy. At the same time, complementary approach counters the strict categorization of spaces into either public or private. According to that point of view, architectural space and its various elements should act as regulators of privacy. Space and its elements should be able to increase or decrease privacy according to the customized needs of its occupants (Georgiou, 2006).

Robinson (2001) identified different zones of privacy within a single Midwestern house and pinpointed their importance for the individual. Robinson argues that through a series of spaces with different degrees of privacy, the autonomy of the resident within a small social group is provided. Furthermore, the individual is granted a large measure of control over time, space, activity, and social interaction."

(Faris Ali Mustafa, Ahmad Sanusi Hassan and Salahaddin Yasin Baper, August 2010)

Faris Ali Mustafa, Ahmad Sanusi Hassan and Salahaddin Yasin Baper (2011). 'Institutional Space, Domestic Space, and Power Relations: Revisiting territoriality with space syntax', Asian Social Science, Vol. 6, No. 8, ISSN 1911–2025 (Online), Canadian Center of Science and Education

TAGS

architectural space • clean • degrees of privacy • designdesign formalismdirtydwelling • external space • functional design • habitationhousehuman relations • interior • interior architectureinterior design • internal space • intimacy gradients • layoutmorphologyplaceprivacyprivateprofaneregulationsacredsacred spacessequence of spacesspacespatial configurationspatial literacysymbolic placeterritorytopology

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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