The Language of Australian Human-Ecological Relationship: Identity, Place, and Landscape

Reference work entry


The power in language is palpable and yet is weakened by cultural differences, misunderstandings, and assumptions that can include and exclude individuals and groups. In this chapter, various terms are deconstructed that explore the human-ecological relationship, using landscape as the context to explore disciplinary discourses like the environment, nature, and place. Theoretical (e.g., biophilia, ngurra, cynefin, solastalgia, and sense of place) and Australian practical frameworks (e.g., exploring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and spiritual and religious traditions) are then explored. This exploration will be undertaken to break down language silos and bridge the gap between different discourses currently occurring in Australia.

An attempt at developing a new model to understand the human-ecological relationship has been made. This is an ego-social-ecological determinant of health model that inverts previous perspectives of social-ecological models (e.g., Hancock and Perkins’ Mandala of Health, 1985) such that instead of the individual, the earth is the core. More specifically, this model will be presented, drawing on previous research on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island groups and Australian religious groups, with outer layers representing the individual, community and ecosystem, and the center representing the planet. This chapter is designed to prompt discussion on emerging language in this field to move away from human-centric perspectives of the Earth.


Nature Sense of place Ngurra Solastalgia Mandala of health 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health, Nature and Sustainability Research Group, School of Health and Social DevelopmentDeakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Health SciencesSwinburne University of TechnologyHawthornAustralia

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