The Luxury of Leisure in Aboriginal Societies: A Commentary

Johan Huizinga (1872-1945), distinguished Dutch historian and philosopher of culture, called the play element in human culture Homo ludens [Huizinga, Johann. 1938. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. (1945 edition)]. Play involves time out from work – leisure embracing respite, repose, amusement, fun and games, even watching games. Leisure and physical exertion are key moderators of stress-illness relationships, significantly safeguarding against suicide. For Aborigines it is also an avenue out of anger. Australia’s Aborigines once had a multitude of traditional pastimes, most now lost, some re-found [see Edwards, Ken. 2009. “Traditional Games of a Timeless Land: Play Cultures in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities.” Australian Aboriginal Studies (2): 32-43]. Many men took to Western sports, excelling in Australian Rules football, boxing, cricket, darts, professional athletics and rugby league. Traditionally, food-gathering was essential but also leisure and pleasure. Whether leisured respite or organized sporting competition, clans beset by serious illness need venues – and Aboriginal access to facilities falls far short of what is needed and what is available to mainstream Australia.


Journal article

Journal citation

Annals of Leisure Research 17 Nov 2019


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Abstract included in PLA’s Research Connections article in Parks and Leisure Australia Vol 23.2 Winter 2020


Due to copyright restrictions, only the abstract is available


Tatz, Colin (Author)


Taylor and Francis online: 2019