Whose place? Sustaining cultural conversations

Higher education Australia Queensland

Abstract: The notion of place is integral to any understanding of cultural sustainability. Present and future places are the product of the political negotiations of past places. How we recreate and represent the history and the stories of a place impacts the individual and collective cultural identities associated with it. Moreover, these representations help to determine who does, or does not, belong. When planning for the sustainment of cultures, we need to draw on our ethical responsibility to ensure that everybody and every culture enjoys the right to a sense of belonging. To do this, we must turn to questions such as, whose story is primarily being represented through the identity of a particular place? Or, whose place is being replaced and reimagined without acknowledgement or permission? And how will these communities and individuals, whose stories are not amplified, become sustainable? To respond to some of these questions, this article presents an analysis of placemaking on the Gold Coast. It sketches insights from cultural practitioners, industry leaders, cultural workers and the community- at-large, to expose heterogeneous Gold Coasts wrestling with the one identity. Most notably, it documents the emergence of a cultural voice that is developing via artist-run spaces involving joint collaborations between the academy and the community. By adopting transdisciplinarity alongside an historical approach to conversation, this article also suggests some alternative ways to develop policies that fosters and sustains multiple cultures, rather than just reproducing more of the same.

This paper was presented at People and the Planet 2013 at RMIT in July 2013

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