Sociospatial Structures of Australian Aboriginal Settlements

Sociospatial Structures of Australian Aboriginal Settlements Journal Article

Australian Aboriginal Studies

  • Author(s): Memmott, P.
  • Published: 2002
  • Volume: 2002

Abstract: This article is concerned with the 'sociospatial patterns' of Australian Aboriginal settlements, which are herein defined as the division of settlements into spatial zones, each occupied by an aggregate of domiciliary groups and possessing some common social identity and characteristic social structure. It is argued that sociospatial structures occurred in large Aboriginal camps across the continent to facilitate various social functions. Drawing on 15 case studies in the anthropological literature which were researched between 1896 and 1988, the analysis considers the following principles as explanations or generating devices for sociospatial settlement patterns: kinship and economy, sociogeographic identity, class divisions, and the locational principle of camping in the direction of one's country. Are such patterns being maintained under conditions of cultural change and sedentarisation? If so, how important is it to acknowledge and preserve these patterns? It is argued that the continuity of a sociospatial structure in an Aboriginal community enables traditional social groups to maintain distinct residential locations in relation to one another, which in turn contributes to the maintenance of a variety of customary behavioural features, including social identity and internal social control.

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Suggested Citation
Memmott, P., 2002, Sociospatial Structures of Australian Aboriginal Settlements, Volume:2002, Journal Article, viewed 19 August 2022,

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