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Yothuw gayatha dhäwal’ guyaŋa’ nharaw
To Be Born Upon a Pandanus Mat


Welcome to the research blog inspired by project Yothuw gayatha dhäwal’ guyaŋa’ nharaw: To Be Born Upon a Pandanus Mat, written by Associate Professor Sarah Ireland. 

It shares the project’s ebbs and flows, alongside First Nations and Western knowledge perspectives in research, childbirth and wellbeing. 

Photo credits: Pat Josse; Sarah Ireland.


I am Associate Professor Sarah Ireland and I am a non-Indigenous researcher working on the the ambitious multiagency project To Be Born Upon a Pandanus Mat: Yothuw gayatha dhäwal’ guyaŋa’ nharaw  With leadership from Warramiri scholar Professor Elaine Ḻäwurrpa Maypilama  , Njikena Jawuru scholar Professor Yvette Roe  , and non-Indigenous scholars Professor Sue Kildea and Professor Yu Gao, our project sets out to establish and evaluate Australia’s ‘Birthing on Country’ very remote, demonstration site in Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island, Arnhem Land, Australian. The Pandanus Mat Fringe is not just a blog; it's a conceptual space inspired by the project, devoted to delving into the diverse perspectives of First Nations and Western knowledge in the realms of research, childbirth, and overall wellbeing. At the core of our project methodology lies the symbolic use of a Pandanus mat, representing a cultural metaphor wherein Yolŋu weave First Nations and Western knowledge into a resilient and aesthetically beautiful foundation for their birthing women and babies. In pre-colonial times, Yolŋu weaving primarily involved plain pandanus. However, in recent years, Yolŋu have embraced Western technologies, such as metal axes and pots, to fuse traditional knowledge of plant dyes and weaving techniques into contemporary vibrant fibre designs. As a non-Yolŋu woman working in partnership with Yolŋu on their sovereign country, I recognise that it is not my place to be choosing the knowledges or weaving patterns in the mat. Instead, I am committed to honouring and amplifying Yolŋu knowledge while reflecting on and facilitating Yolŋu access to Western knowledge. Thus, the observations and insights shared in this blog emerge from the metaphorical fringe of the pandanus mat. I invite you to join us on this enriching journey, exploring the intersections of tradition and innovation, First Nations, and Western wisdom, as we work towards fostering holistic and culturally sensitive approaches to childbirth and research in Australia. Enjoy sharing in our project's unfolding narrative! Nhäma yalala- see you later! Sarah


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