Goŋ Gurtha: enacting response-abilities as situated co-becoming

Bawaka Country, Sandie Suchet-Pearson, Sarah Wright, Kate Lloyd*, Matalena Tofa, Jill Sweeney, Laklak Burarrwanga, Ritjilili Ganambarr, Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr-Stubbs, Banbapuy Ganambarr, Djawundil Maymuru

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we engage with the Goŋ Gurtha songspiral, shared on/by/with/as Bawaka Country in Yolŋu Northeast Arnhem Land, Australia, to provide a basis for re-thinking responsibility in the context of ongoing Eurocentric colonising processes. Goŋ Gurtha encourages us to consider two key aspects of responsibility – response and ability. We argue that Yolŋu relational ontologies conceive response-abilities as requiring an ability to pay close and careful attention as part of more-than-human worlds, and an imperative to respond as part of these worlds. As such, rather than being responsible to or for others, we seek to respond as, emphasising our emergent co-becoming in more-than-human, situated, ethical ways. Goŋ Gurtha guides the paper through four aspects of these response-abilities: response-abilities as songspirals; response-abilities as continuity; response-abilities as academics and response-abilities beyond Bawaka. In doing so, we understand response-abilities as more-than-human co-becomings enacted in contingent ways that none-the-less need to be grounded in deep obligations of more-than-human kinship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)682-702
Number of pages21
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number4
Early online date22 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


  • Bawaka
  • Indigenous geographies
  • co-becoming
  • Australia
  • responsibilities
  • songspirals


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