Volume 5, Issue 1, Spring 2013
John Charles Ryan
Toward a Phen(omen)ology of the Seasons: The Emergence of the Indigenous Weather Knowledge Project (IWKP)
Since European settlement, the Western calendar has insufficiently accounted for the seasonal nuances and multiple temporalities of Australia. Beginning with Tim Entwistle’s recent proposal to revise the four-season Australian norm, this article traces the emergence of the Western calendar in Europe and its institutionalization ‘Down Under.’ With its emphasis on land-based calendars, the Indigenous Weather Knowledge Project (IWKP) is a partnership between Aboriginal communities and the Bureau of Meteorology aimed at preserving and promoting knowledge of the endemic seasons of Australian regions. As the
most recent addition to the IWKP, the six-season Nyoongar calendar of the South-West of Western Australia is based on meteorological conditions (ecological time), such as wind directions and temperatures, but also on the procurement of food, maintenance of cultural knowledge, and performance of ceremonies (structural time). Through the fusion of phenomenological (experiential, sensory, place-based, actual) and phenological (cognitive, visual, enumerative, digital) approaches, the endemic seasons of Australia can be appreciated in their depth and extent.