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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 3: Colonial Aboriginality


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Colonial Aboriginality


The previous chapter developed a critical appreciation of Aboriginal pasts before colonisation and, together with this chapter, offers some refinement of the progressive orthodoxy in Aboriginal history and affairs. The correction to the orthodoxy in that chapter was to moderate some of its romanticisation and positive mythologising, and to indicate how Aborigines were not all the same but simultaneously the same as and different from each other, with all the good and ill that that implies, and that life was not as easy or comfortable for all as is portrayed in the mythology. This chapter examines the Aboriginalities and the pan-Aboriginality that emerged from the colonial period. It recognises the partial truth of the conservative self-congratulatory story that celebrates the development of the nation, but is also aware of the way that that story has ignored or explained away the costs of the process for Aborigines and silenced their voice. It also recognises the partial truth of the progressive/revisionist story that acknowledges the violence at the centre of that development and mourns the long-term negative consequences of the colonial encounter.

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