From the European South

a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities

Public consultation and pub talk as toponymic workspace: Kings Square to Walyalup Koort

Thor Kerr and Shaphan Cox


The drive to recognise and assert pre-colonial toponymies and Indigenous place names in settler colonial cities has been gaining local and global momentum. Localized systems of governance have emerged as an effective scale for public engagement, consultation and decision-making. In this paper, we explore the City of Fremantle’s initiative for the (re)naming of its civic centre Kings Square now Walyalup Koort. The paper presents an analysis of texts produced through the consultation process and dialogue at a Pub talk question-and-answer session. We assert that the consultation and talk can be understood as toponymic workspace for opening up a politics of place-naming and a method for assessing and improving procedural justice. Such forms of public consultation can be applied by local governments and communities seeking ethical representation in and of public places, and they can be made effective through substantial inclusion of Indigenous visual culture, language and stories within the toponymic workspace.


Toponomies, postcolonial, settler colonial, Indigenous, subjectivity, Australia



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