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PLACE AND BELONGING The Bush is the heart of Australia, the real Australian Australia. Francis Adams, 1893 Land, Place & Identity

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place and belonging


The Bush is the heart of Australia, the real Australian Australia.

Francis Adams, 1893

land place identity
Land, Place & Identity
  • ‘There are threads that run like arteries through a nation and in this country one is the land. It is the source of many of the sustaining myths, preoccupations and conflicts – the biggest dreams and the greatest disappointments. From the boastful national conversation abut property prices to the nagging unease about sustainability and native title the nature of our obsession with land changes with the season but is never far away.’ (Julianne Schultz)
place belonging
Place & belonging

The rise of eco-nationalism

Reworking of national identity to incorporate

a commitment to the natural environment and

an indigenous understanding of spiritual

connectedness to the land.

Shift from the rural landscape to the ‘wilderness’

and the ‘deep’ outback.

place belonging4
Place & belonging

How do settler Australians express a sense

of belonging in the aftermath of Mabo?

‘How can we non-indigenous Australians justify our

continued presence and our love for this country

while the Indigenous people remain to express an

attachment to places that were wrested from the

Indigenous people who loved them, lost them and

grieve for them still?’

(Peter Read, Belonging: Australians, Place and Aboriginal Ownership)

the colonial vision of land
The colonial vision of land
  • A land in a ‘state of nature’ waiting to be rescued.
  • A deficient landscape
  • The weirdness of Australian nature
the weirdness of australian nature
The weirdness of Australian nature
  • Kangaroo, Kangaroo!Thou Spirit of Australia!That redeems from utter failure,From perfect desolation,And warrants the creationOf this fifth part of the EarthWhich would seem an after-birth
the colonial vision of land7
The colonial vision of land
  • Colonial understandings of land functioned ideologically to justify a war against the ‘natives’ and a war against nature.
  • Introduction of new species through acclimatisation movement.
  • The association of Australia with nature fostered a sense of inferiority.
a national vision of land
A national vision of land
  • Celebration of a transformed landscape
  • Fostered an identity built on brawn over brain.
  • Rural Australia as real Australia – the bush myth
celebration of native nature
Celebration of native nature
  • Use of native fauna and flora on national symbols.
  • Nature study in schools
  • Wattle and Bird Days
  • Emergence of bushwalking
resilience of the bush myth
Resilience of the bush myth
  • Evident in advertising, film, Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Olympics, tourism campaigns, popularity of outback clothing (Akubras and R.M. Williams gear)
an ecological spiritual vision
An ecological & spiritual vision
  • Ongoing connection between nature and nation but a shift away from an Australian nationalism built on a desire to tame nature.
  • Desire for ‘untouched’ landscapes/scenic wonders
  • National identity that doesn’t seek to destroy, values the native species over the introduced and one that gives significance to indigenous knowledge.
rise of environmental consciousness
Rise of environmental consciousness
  • Environmental issues increasingly on the agenda since the 1960s – part of global phenomenon.
  • Less about battling the environment than going into battle for the environment.
  • Assigning transcendental value to the environment.
rise of an environmental consciousness
Rise of an environmental consciousness
  • The significance of the Franklin River (Tasmania) in the early 1980s.
  • A new vision of progress and modernity being put forward by activists.
  • Federal government overrode state government to ‘save the Franklin.
  • Emergence of the Greens in 1992


the red centre
The red centre
  • Today it seems ‘self-evident that the Australian centre should occupy a focal position in the national psyche and provide its visual image to the world. Yet five decades ago such a notion would have been met with incredulity’.
  • (Roslynn Haynes, Seeking the Centre)
spiritual centre of the nation
Spiritual centre of the nation
  • 1983-85 handback – ownership of the Anangu people of Uluru-Katajuta National Park recognised.
  • Site of pilgrimage for settler Australians and international tourists
  • The ritual of the climb – a continuance of the desire to possess?
  • A site of tension - Anangu ask that people don’t climb and there are now limits on commercial photography
continuing ambivalence to the landscape
Continuing ambivalence to the landscape
  • Reactions to fire, flood and drought
  • Attempts to drought-proof the land
spiritual landscape
Spiritual landscape
  • Need to develop close spiritual ties with the land to develop as a mature nation.
  • ‘the wide brown land might claim us as its own…(this) is our best hope for a long-term and sustainable future’. (Tim Flannery)
what does it mean to belong
What does it mean to belong?
  • ‘If nature can be the source of identity, why must we constantly be reminded of our status as intruders in the bush? We are after all…already indigenous to the land, already a part of its nature, already at home here’.
  • (John Morton and Nicholas Smith)