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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 2: Ancestral Aboriginalities


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Ancestral Aboriginalities


In Chapter 1, we provided a picture of a common sense Aboriginality, one that is popularly taken for granted but simplistic, romantically positive about the pre-contact world, has imagined that that world could be recovered, and dismissive of the cultural innovations of the colonial period. The Aboriginality taught in orthodox Indigenous Studies in many ways refers back to the Aboriginality before colonisation. This chapter considers the mythicised or common sense understandings of Aboriginality that abound, and in addition unsettles, undermines and problematises them through three regional studies. While teachers must have some background information as the basis for teaching, it is also important that they avoid contributing to the mythologisation in their teaching and so contributing to the negative consequences that have been suggested. In this way, critical knowledge provides a better foundation than stereotypical knowledge for cultural sensitivity, effective communication and social inclusion.

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