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Indigenising Anthropology with Guattari and Deleuze$
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Barbara Glowczewski

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474450300

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474450300.001.0001

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A Topological Approach to Australian Cosmology and Social Organisation

A Topological Approach to Australian Cosmology and Social Organisation

(p.202) 6 A Topological Approach to Australian Cosmology and Social Organisation
Indigenising Anthropology with Guattari and Deleuze

Barbara Glowczewski

Edinburgh University Press

Aboriginal kinship has stimulated many mathematicians. In the 1980’s, Glowczewski showed that there is a non euclidian ‘topologic’ that is common to what Indigenous Australians call their “Law”: a non hierarchical system of classificatory ritual kinship, a projection of the mythical travels of totemic ancestors (the Dreamings) into the landscape and a system of ritual obligations taboos. In other words, the social valorisation of heterogeneity recognises irreducible singularities shared by humans, non humans and the land as a condition for a commons that in no way homogenises society into a hierarchical order. The topological figure of the hypercube was used here to illustrate some complex Aboriginal relational rules that exclude the centralisation of power both in social organisation and in the totemic cosmology. To translate Indigenous spatio-temporal concepts Glowczewski was partly inspired by science fiction, that speculates about the 4th dimension. When shown the hypercube as a tool to account for the kinship logic of their Dreamings, the Warlpiri elders thought it was a ‘good game’! First published in 1989.

Keywords:   Indigenous Australia, Cosmologic, Dreaming Law, Fourth Dimension, Hypercube, Kinship, Topologic

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