Mapping indigenous inclusion and exclusion in urban public spaces

Gavin tells me that his PhD is now available for download:

Gavin Malone, 2012, Phases of Aboriginal inclusion in the public space in Adelaide, South Australia, since colonisation, School of the Environment, Flinders University


‘Post-colonial’ Australia is evolving its identity and sense of self but reconciliation with its Aboriginal peoples remains politically and culturally unresolved. This reconciliation has been a national objective since the 1990s. Reconciliation is a multi-faced process to achieve the equitable inclusion of Aboriginal peoples in all aspects of contemporary society and for non-Aboriginal Australians to embrace Aboriginal people and their history as a valid and valuable part of the Australian nation and recognise their claim to sovereignty prior to colonisation. One way a nation, or people, presents itself and its history is through the cultural artefacts it places in the public space. This contributes to cultural identity at both civic and personal levels. Social inclusion or marginalisation is also reflected in the public space and historically Aboriginal people and culture have been largely excluded from it. Whilst a casual walk around the streets of the main cultural precincts and streets of a city may reveal some recent Aboriginal representations, little is documented on what may actually exist.

In Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, this also appears to be the case with a limited number of Aboriginal representations apparent in the public space. But there has been no research to fully establish what exists. This research overcomes that lack by investigating and documenting the extent and manner of Aboriginal public space inclusion in greater metropolitan Adelaide. In all, 143 monuments, memorials, public artworks, public space designs, community artworks and commemorative and interpretive markers, collectively called Aboriginal Cultural Markers, have been located and documented through this research.

Having established what exists, interpretation of the data can then take place to better understand the historical exclusion, and gradual inclusion of Aboriginal people in the public space; how and when any change occurred, who was involved and the manner of representation. This research traces the inclusion (or exclusion) of Aboriginal people and culture in the public space from the colonisation of South Australia in 1836 to the present. It identifies six distinct phases, which link to broader historical and social periods or events, in the evolution of representation: The Silence (to 1960), Breaking the Silence (1960 to early 1980s), Aboriginal Voice Emerges (early 1980s to early 1990s); Community, Culture and Collaborations (early 1990s to present); Kaurna Country (mid 1990s to present); Kaurna Management and Determination (yet to occur).

The phases documented reflect: the gradual and ongoing decolonisation process; a nation coming to terms with its treatment of Aboriginal peoples through Reconciliation; an evolving self-determination by Aboriginal people; and movement towards control of cultural production and self-representation by Aboriginal people in the public space and the evolution of a bi-cultural cultural landscape that has a distinctive Aboriginal presence.

There are still considerable gaps in the geographic and cultural spread of Markers and there is much more to be achieved to provide a visually and culturally strong Aboriginal symbolic presence in the city centre and urban areas. I therefore make recommendations on themes, locations and processes to help guide future commissioning of Markers. The Markers form an identifiable collection of public artworks, albeit in diverse locations and under diverse ownership.  I make recommendations on the curation of this collection.

Keywords: Adelaide, Kaurna, public art, cultural markers, public space, cultural representation, reconciliation, social inclusion


Research Workshop – Public Space and Commemoration

Quentin Stevens has forwarded notice of a free two day research workshop, Public Space and Commemoration, to be held in Canberra on 21-22 February. Further information below, including essential registration details.

(Watch this space for information about a related symposium to be held at RMIT University in Melbourne on 12 March 2013.)

Two-Day Research Workshop: Public Space and Commemoration

21 February  2013 (11am-5pm) and 22 February 2013 (9.30am-5pm)

in connection with the ANU Humanities Research Centre 2013 Visiting Fellowship Program’s Annual Theme: Cities, Imaginaries, Publics

Convenor: Quentin Stevens, RMIT University

Location: Humanities Research Centre, Sir Roland Wilson Building #120, ANU, Canberra

This workshop draws together contemporary research in the humanities, social sciences and the design disciplines which looks at the design, use and meaning of public spaces in the particular context of historical commemoration. In contrast to the conventional focus on the meanings that sponsors intend public memorials to convey, such analysis embraces everyday social life around memorials, as well as social practices of commemoration in everyday spaces, and informal, unofficial memorials. From the perspective of design, the symposium will explore how commemorative spaces are shaped through client objectives, competition briefs, juries, and wider planning frameworks. From the perspective of users, it will examine how social memories, meanings and identities are shaped within urban spaces, through commemorative practices and other narratives of collective identity, as well as informal everyday uses. These issues are particularly relevant to the everyday life and the form of Canberra’s own urban spaces, which are strongly influenced by the presence of both national and local memorials, particularly during the centenary of Canberra and the upcoming centenary of ANZAC.

The workshop will include formal presentations, discussion of a set of circulated readings, roundtable discussions, and a field trip to several Canberra memorials.

Speakers include:

  • SueAnne Ware, RMIT University: Memorial Camels: Design by Committee
  • Russell Rodrigo, University of New South Wales: Whose Memorial is it Anyway?: Re-Thinking Client-centred Design in Public Commemoration
  • Quentin Stevens, RMIT University: Memorial masterplanning in Berlin, London and New York
  • John Stephens, Curtin University: Memory, Forgetting and Trauma in Australian War Memorials
  • Julia Lossau, University of Bremen, Germany: Affirmation and Division: Shaping the Image of the New Gorbals in Glasgow
  • Shanti Sumartojo, Australian National University: Public art and the construction of national identity

Attendance is free, but all attendees must register in advance by emailing:

no later than Monday 11 February with the subject line MEMORIALS WORKSHOP

Registered participants will receive lunches and transport for the field trip and will also be emailed a short packet of relevant readings in advance of the workshop.
Late registrations may be accepted but those who register late will have to arrange their own catering and transport.

Questions about the workshop can be directed to:

This workshop is generously supported by the following:
Humanities Research Centre, ANU
Australian Research Council
RMIT Foundation International Research Exchange Fellowship
RMIT Design Research Institute

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

The position of Postdoctoral Research Fellow is currently being advertised at the School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University, Melbourne
Deadline for applications: 10 December 2012
[Source: s-architecture  ]

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship available within RMIT University’s School of Architecture and Design (Quentin Stevens)

A position for a Postdoctoral Research Fellow is available within RMIT University’s School of Architecture and Design.  The fellow will work alongside Dr Quentin Stevens in connection with a major ARC-funded project exploring the design and public perception of contemporary memorials and other public artworks. The post would suit someone with a PhD in open space design, human-environment relations, or urban geography. Experience in the publication of academic research is desirable. The post is research-only and is available full-time from now until early 2015.

for more information, and to apply, go to:

Quentin Stevens

Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow
School of Architecture and Design
RMIT University
Melbourne, Australia

Reader in Urban Design
Bartlett School of Planning
University College London

Urban design conference

Call for Papers: Opportunistic Urban Design, 5th International Urban Design Conference 2012

10-15 September 2012
Hilton on the Park, Melbourne

The theme for the 2012 conference is Opportunistic Urban Design:

If the act of planning is to legitimise ‘what should be done’, opportunistic design thinking seeks to action ‘what can be done’. Indeed, the focus of planning may enable it to be read as one form of catalyst for thinking opportunistically. That is, a process of creative thinking leading to more flexible, more inventive and more contextually responsive strategies of intervention into the urban environment. […]

Growth, flux, and decay are inherent aspects of urban systems. As changing financial, political, environmental, technical and social conditions influence urban life,  it is apparent that urban design will have to become increasingly opportunistic and creative in approach, formulation and delivery.

This trend is manifesting itself across a broad range of disciplines, scales and intents. It is most popularly evident in innovative place making projects and strategies such as the High Line in NYC, tactical urbanism, a multiplicity of fluid uses of public spaces (eg pop ups).

Proposals for papers and/or workshop presentations are invited relevant to one or more of the  conference  streams:

  • Political Strategies
  • Design Approaches
  • Initiators & Entrepreneurs
  • Finance & Funding
  • Open Papers

All accepted abstracts will be published; presenters also have the option of having their papers peer-reviewed and published in a book of proceedings. (Proceedings from former conferences are available on the website here)

Deadline for abstracts: 14th May 2012
Full Papers for Peer Review: 18th July 2012
Final academic-refereed papers due: 29th August 2012
Further information: here