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Understanding modes of dwelling: A transdisciplinary approach to phenomenology of landscape

Turk, Andrew Glenn (2020) Understanding modes of dwelling: A transdisciplinary approach to phenomenology of landscape. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This transdisciplinary PhD addresses the research question: Can some form of phenomenology provide an effective over-arching paradigm for transdisciplinary research in ethnophysiography? Ethnophysiography studies the way people within a language community conceptualise natural landscape, including terms for landscape features and toponyms (placenames). Dwelling involves conceptualisations and affects regarding physical, utilitarian, cultural, spiritual and ethical relationships with landscape. A key achievement is development of an enhanced ethnophysiography case study methodology, supporting the Ethnophysiography Descriptive Model (EDM).

Summary phenomenographic tables were prepared from literature reviews of ethnophysiography, transdisciplinarity, phenomenology, concepts of place and relationships with place. The use of tables, summarising key results of literature reviews (via a phenomenographic approach), is integral to the methodology, to operationalize transdisciplinarity. Some tables are utilised in the PTM-ECS, facilitating identification of relevant issues, collection of appropriate data, and hermeneutic analysis processes. To facilitate comparison of landscape terms and toponyms between languages, the EDM was developed and tested.

A key contribution is interpretation of the phenomenological concepts of ‘lifeworld’, ‘topology’ and ‘habitus’. Creation of landscape, as place, involves synergistic integration, in a non-deterministic and emergent manner, of the physical attributes of an area of topographic environment (terrain and ecosystem) with the socio-cultural characteristics of a group of people (including linguistic and spiritual aspects). This produces a particular topo-socio-cultural-spiritual mode-of-dwelling (topology).

A partial trial of the new methodology is provided, via an ethnophysiography case study with Manyjilyjarra Aboriginal people in Australia’s Western Desert (undertaken by this author with linguist Clair Hill). It demonstrates how the adopted approach facilitates understanding of traditional forms of dwelling and how this relates to Jukurrpa (The Dreaming), the law, lore and social structure of their society.

Review of research processes indicates they effectively utilised key features of transdisciplinarity. A summary of the findings, their potential application, a statement of research limitations, and proposals for further research, are provided.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Creative Media, Arts and Design
Supervisor(s): Ucnik, Lubica, McHoul, Alec, Grehan, Helena, Richardson, Ingrid and Broderick, Mick
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