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Australian Indigenous Studies

Research and Practice

Terry Moore, Carol Pybus, Mitchell Rolls and David Moltow

This book provides a guide to research and teaching in an Australian Indigenous Studies that is oriented toward the diverse, contemporary world. Central to this perspective is a sensibility to the intercultural complexity of that world – particularly its Indigenous component – and an awareness of the interactional capabilities that the Indigenous (and others) need to successfully negotiate it. These capabilities are important for facilitating Indigenous peoples’ goal of equality as citizens and recognition as Indigenous, a goal which this book seeks to address.

The Indigenous Studies presented in this book rejects as unproductive the orientation of orthodox Indigenous Studies, which promulgates the retention of old cultures, positive stereotypes, binary oppositions and false certainties. It adopts a more dialogical and process-oriented approach that highlights interactions and relationships and leads to the recognition of cultural and identity multiplicity, intersection and ambiguous difference.

The book covers key topics such as ancestral cultures, colonisation and its impacts, identity politics, interculturality, intersectionality, structural marginalisation, unit development and teaching complexity. The focus of the book is the development of a sensibility that can shape readers’ perceptions, decisions and actions in the future and guide teachers in their negotiation of intercultural classroom relationships.

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Chapter 1: Orthodox Indigenous Studies


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Orthodox Indigenous Studies


Indigenous Studies, previously and still often today known as Aboriginal Studies, began in the late 1960s and continues into the present day, in consistent forms. Though there have been changes over time, with the development of complementary programs of cultural awareness and cultural competence, and more Indigenous authors contributing, the core aims and notions that ground Indigenous Studies have remained stable for forty years. Indigenous Studies has aimed to break the silence on dispossession, debunk persisting negative myths, nurture Aboriginal and Islander pride and settler-Australian respect for both, and establish the nation’s Indigenous history.1 Insofar as these aims have been achieved, they have contributed to the ultimate end of Indigenous peoples’ inclusion in the wider society as equals, with their cultural heritage in a healthy state.

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