Old Space and New Place: The Pilbara

Britta Kuhlenbeck


This paper examines how spatial concepts of a region change over time and focuses on the Pilbara region in Western Australia as an example. Spatial concepts of ‘old space’ and ‘new place’ are employed to demonstrate how space gets re-written in the course of time. Re-writing of spatial concepts implies ontological shifts. By juxtaposing ‘old space’ and ‘new place’ concepts, questions of cultural values, the meaning of place – and of a region’s identity – can be explored. In the Pilbara region a specific cultural clash of Indigenous and non-Indigenous perceptions and use of space is evident. This paper theorises the culture and identity of the Pilbara region spatially. It employs the concept of spatiality that is one element in the ‘trialectic model of being’, as suggested by Henri Lefebvre, which consists of spatiality, historicality and sociality. Arguably, knowledge of ‘old space’ and ‘new place’ can enrich and inspire Australian culture, enhance cross-cultural understanding and break new ground in establishing a unique reconciliatory and conservation ethic.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1344/co201311205-226


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