Monthly Archives: January 2012

Latitude 31° 60’S – Longitude 115° 50′ E

Camped under a mandarin tree,
wind howling at night,
‘the doctor’ keeps us cool while a city exhales.
Feet treading a path on streets,
a familiarity beginning to be felt
as the grooves deepen and I can see my tracks.
A heatwave makes the ocean scream my name,
I can here it a suburb away.
Relief is measured in the rush of cool as I dive, dive, dive.
A band of gypsies occupy the backyard,
The sharehouse billows as we come and go, come and go.
Cabaret performers, revolutionaries and me…
Looking for the common thread that binds this humanity,
Seeking to understand our ways, our paths, our futures.

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Revisiting deep listening

I’m not sure when I first heard about Dadirri (deep listening) as described by Miriam Rose Ungunmarr (1999), maybe it was in a conversation with B when we were talking about how to facilitate the kind of education for young people which creates a space for this experience. In the past few blogs I have tried to seek out and write about a space in which being with occurs… I think that my thoughts have been quite conceptual and have lacked the grounding that comes with actual experience. So I am back to revisiting deep listening and feel like I should dwell in this space, one which I have a tangible and lived experience of. In her exploration of deep listening, Brearley (2009: 43) refers to the work of Scharmer (2009) and talks about it as, ‘a generative form of listening, which opens a space for something new to be created.’ 

Are generative spaces like deep listening the fertile soil in which cultural transformations take shape? Something to explore… There are so many contexts in which deep listening could potentially influence process and the quality of relationships/dynamics.

Whilst I was reluctant at the beginning of my Masters to acknowledge deep listening as a research method, it seems like I can’t move forward without this critical practice: 

‘Taking the time to invest in relationships lies at the heart of deep listening… [it] is underpinned by the concepts of community and reciprocity’ (Brearley, 2009: 44).

For me the relationships I cultivate and nurture with research collaborators/participants are paramount. In the past when I have spoken about remaining objective in my research, I have interpreted that to mean that I need to create a separation between myself and that which I am exploring. Brearley (2009) makes reference to Bishop (1996: 23-24) who attempts to address this issue of distance:

“As researchers ‘we need to acknowledge our participatory connectedness with the other research participants and promote a sense of knowing in a way, which denies distance and separation and promotes commitment and engagement.”

I would love to hear from people who have used the practice of dadirri/deep listening to create a collaborative research space.


Filed under Theory

The ‘third space’: an introduction to Bhabha

J’s neighbour stopped by today and soon into the conversation she asked me about my Masters research. In my haphazard way I was trying to describe the cross-cultural space that is generated on the Lurujarri Heritage Trail and during the Arnhem Weaving Workshops, and how I wanted to explore experiences of ‘being with’ (people/county) from the perspectives of those participating/creating/performing (???) in this space. K jumped straight in and began to ask me if I had read any Bharba or Bourdieu… “no, not yet.” This week I’ve been attempting to comprehend the ideas of Addleson, Stengers, Whitehead, Latour, Muecke and others, but not Bharba and Bourdieu. Lucky for me K is very good at giving an applied interpretation of theory and very quickly I realised that this Bharbha fellow might be onto something.
Enter, ‘the third space’, a place (?) in which people from multiple cultures engage and co-create a cultural reality that is somehow ‘new’. I have only just lightly scratched the surface of Bharbha’s ideas on hybridity and a third space. Has anyone out there applied or critiqued his theory???
K used Bharbha’s idea of a ‘third space’ as a theoretical platform for her PhD and in the end disagreed with his ideas. In her research with Indigenous people and miners at the Argyle Mine in W.A. she found that Indigenous people were, “‘incorporating’ Miners and the mine into their cultural ‘reality’ in order to engage with the Miners and mine is ways that are consistent with, and indeed reinforce, their own laws and customs” (Doohan, 2006:78). Straight away the practice of adopting non-Indigenous people, so that they are incorporated into a kinship system and have a place in an Indigenous universe, came to mind.  In reference to her quote above, K resists that idea that there is any cultural enmeshing that happens in this space.
As for Bourdieu, Doohan (2006: 79) writes of the various intellectual tools for social research, ‘habitus,’ ‘fields,’ and ‘social and cultural capital’, which he offers as a ways of,  “reconciling the sometimes contradictory and always-complex data regarding peoples lived lives… His analysis of fields of engagement and the inevitable transformative effects of social science practice has influenced my own practice in the field and in writing about Aborigines and Miners” (Doohan, 2006: 79). I am interested in questioning the whether there are any transformations that happen in my research space… what’s happening? For whom? What is catalysing the transformation? Needs? Maintenance of a social order?


Filed under Theory

Finding home

Greeted by monsoonal rains and a chorus of frogs (cane toads???) the last few days have made for a seemless re-entry into Broome. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed the humidity, a trusted companion that is there wherever I go. Intimately occupying my space and making me feel like I can ‘touch’ being here, all of the time. Stepping out of Melbourne Airport 3 weeks ago, I knew I’d left something behind. 

There were many unexpected things that I encountered on my visit down south, one of which was a distinct feeling of not ‘coming home’. Unsettling, upsetting and the dawning of a realisation that my energy has finally shifted with me up north. So, where exactly is home for this roaming gypsy?

Back to the rain… huge puddles and streets that had become creek channels were the welcoming party as I arrived back in the Kimberley on Sunday. Since then I’ve been trying to get a sense of what it is to be here in this place. Coming back this time is different though. I’m in town and the country which I’m usually camped on and connecting with 24 hours a day is to the north of here. As soon as tropical cyclone “Heidi” pushes down to the south, I am keen to get up there somehow.

Source: Bureau of Meteorology (, 11/1/2012)

For now though, ‘camping’ here at J’s beautiful home feels like a good place to get my head and heart around my purpose here.  

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