Place and belonging: ways of knowing and learning in the Australian bush
‘Where are you from?’ This question often refers to someone’s birthplace, childhood home or a place that holds significance. The place that is offered in response to this question is more than a means of orientation, it is a lived place that has complex meanings that identify and emplace. The significance of ‘place’ and also of ‘belonging’ to our lives is often overlooked, something that is invisible or hidden, yet it is key to understanding who we are, both individually and collectively. This study explores and examines the ways that children living in a remote Australian cultural context, the bush, perform and construct their place-world, and how within this knowing and subsequent learning, they construct place and belonging. The driving questions of this study are: How do children living in a remote Australian cultural context know their place and belonging? and How do children living in a remote Australian cultural context learn place and belonging?\ud Using the overlapping methodological approaches of critical, visual and sensory ethnography, underpinned with the theories of habitus and the bound relationship between the body and place, this study explores how the children’s, and my own, ways of knowing place emerged through embodied engagement in and with the world. This enabled an understanding of embodied (sensory perception and sensory memories) ways of knowing the place of the bush and how, through everyday practices, place and belonging are performed, constructed and learned through corporeal and socially-engaged pedagogies but also by being there. These findings may contribute to a more profound but also a subtle examination of embodiment as key to the performance and construction of social identities, the production of new analytical insights to develop the theoretical relationship between the where and the who, and knowledge and understanding of the loss of connection with place or displacement.
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