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Space, place, phenomenology and Jukurrpa

Turk, A. (2013) Space, place, phenomenology and Jukurrpa. In: 4th Global Conference. Space and Place: Exploring Critical Issues, 9 - 12 September 2013, Mansfield College, Oxford, UK



The author’s second PhD research is examining whether phenomenology can provide an effective overarching paradigm for trans-disciplinary investigation of ethnophysiography; the study of terms used for landscape features in different languages and the role of toponyms (placenames). This approach must do justice to Indigenous worldviews. The author is exploring the hypothesis that the Australian Central and Western Desert Aboriginal (Yarnangu) concepts of Jukurrpa (a holistic combination of philosophy, religion, lore and law) can be used to better understand Indigenous conceptualizations of space and place. This will assist in assessing their commensurability with forms of phenomenology, based on utilitarian, social and cultural issues. This paper briefly describes this research context, including a summary of the concepts of Jukurrpa. It also reviews phenomenological approaches to space and place, citing authors such as Casey, Ingold, Malpas and Patočka. The paper then considers particular aspects of space and place in the context of Jukurrpa, including the following: the way study of a particular language reveals subtleties of conceptions of space and place as an expression of the ‘lifeworld’ of that community of speakers; the use of generic landscape terms, compared with toponyms, to describe and represent space and place; how embodiment, movement and affordance produce ontologies of space and place; the role of ‘communalized intentionality’ in transformation of space to place, especially sacred places; and linear places (interconnecting pathways), particularly as expressed in Jukurrpa dreaming tracks (songlines). The paper concludes with discussion of how such concepts can apply to English countryside as well as Australian desert landscapes, indicating universal aspects of dwelling with landscape.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Conference Website:
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