“When I looked at the map that you fullas were doing it was historical for me cos I never thought it would be like that and I had no concept of cultural mapping but once I saw it, it was really historical and I was watching the people that were coming in to look at it and they were looking really impressed because youse were contextualising our history and we could see it.”
— Farley Garlett, Noongar Elder
This paper briefly explores the value of cultural mapping within the built environment through the methodology and method of metalogue.
Metalogue is a qualitative research methodology that allows for public discussion between researcher and participant to be recorded as scientific data.1 Bateson termed the process metalanguage.2 In this paper, metalogue connects the concept of ‘yarning’ in Noongar culture as an Indigenous methodological approach to research and provides a sense of respectful collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants.
UWA Cultural Map (photo: Jason Thomas 2019)
Cultural mapping recently provided planning direction for the University of Western Australia (UWA) Crawley Estate Masterplan, Perth, Western Australia. The master planning is to guide contextualisation of the University’s mission statement: ‘To provide world-class education, research and community engagement for the advancement of the prosperity and welfare of our communities.’ The cultural mapping outcome was a 2.5 x 2.5-metre acrylic painting on stretched canvas. The painting essentially depicts a collection of orated yarning and storied discussions providing key themes, distinct locations, broader areas and lines of cultural significance. This information was located on a pencilled scaled base that included topographical contours, landscape features and the estate’s cadastral boundary. As part of the mapping process, parts of this pencilled base were edited, lined in, removed or adjusted for the cultural mapping story to be told.
Barbara Bynder and Greg Grabasch discuss the benefits of cultural mapping and how it may provide a canvas for new design conversations in the following metalogue.
- K Staller, ‘Metalogue as Methodology: Inquiries into Conversations among Authors, Editors and Referees’, Qualitative Social Work, vol. 6, no. 2, 1 Jun. 2007, p. 137–157. <https://doi.org/10.1177/1473325007077236>↩
- G Bateson, ‘Metalanguage: a review of general semantics’, Et Cetera, vol. 72, no.1, 2015, p. 84-89. <https://search-proquest-com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/docview/1700406801?accountid=10382>↩