un Projects is based on the unceded sovereign land and waters of the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation; we pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.
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Agency & Place


Uncle Charles Moran, Uncle Greg Harrington, and Norm Sheehan. ‘On Country Learning.’ Design and Culture 10, no. 1, (2018): 71–9.

Graham, Mary. ‘Understanding Human Agency in Terms of Place.’ PAN: Philosophy Activism Nature, no. 3 (2009): 71–7.

These two seminal writings step out the importance of Place (Country) and its reconfiguration into and around the colonial project. Uncle Charles Moran, Uncle Greg Harrington and Norm Sheehan postulate that the colonial project is designed on patterns of disregard and self-regard. This is of course against the proposition of the relationality of Country to people and between peoples. For the Uncles and Norm:

Revisitation is an important learning event. When you go back to a past story it is unchanged but you are different, so you get a new view of what the story means because of who you have become. The redirection that comes from living awareness of the whole of life is key to decolonization. The intelligence of Country reveals itself to us if we listen well, observe these connections closely, speak softly, and be ourselves.1

For me, my research and my practice, this writing has become pivotal in articulating how Place and Country configure in regard and relationality. An Indigenous ideology positioned thus is the relational as predicated on Country. Relationality has agency. Indigenous Australian methodological approaches operate in their own right, and at the same time they accept existing binaries and ambiguities, as they are not linear in their worldviews and epistemologies. What I found here was the vital importance of Place.

Mary Graham speaks of the importance of Place as operating between the real and the immaterial, the abstract and the concrete. ‘For most Westerners, inquiry precedes place. Knowledge acquisition both defines and supersedes place.

Supporters of the Western scientific method reject the claims of Indigenous knowledges.’ For Indigenous peoples, Place precedes inquiry. Place and Country are both epistemologically and ontologically central to our ideologies and beliefs. Place is a geographical location but also a way of thinking; it is Land that has its own subjectivity. It is here that my practice articulates the subjectivity of Country as a living thing – it informs us, who and how we are.

1. Uncle Charles Moran, Uncle Greg Harrington and Norm Sheehan, ‘On Country Learning,’ Design and Culture 10, no.1 (2018): 78.

2. Mary Graham, ‘Understanding Human Agency in Terms of Place,’ PAN: Philosophy Activism Nature, no. 3 (2009): 71.

Filed under Article Brian Martin