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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 4: Postcolonial Aboriginalities


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Postcolonial Aboriginalities


Thus far we have described and complicated the ‘common sense’ Aboriginality1 within orthodox Indigenous Studies programs. The orthodox perspective looks back to the ancestral past through rose-tinted glasses that make life appear idyllic, views the colonial era as an unmitigatedly violent dispossession of innocent victims, and sees the present as an inadequate attempt to facilitate self-determination. We have identified two dimensions of Aboriginal culture, history and identity that differ from that of common sense. They are the reality of the diversity and far greater complexity of the ancestral worlds and the colonial relationship than is commonly told. We have offered a picture that captures more of the ambiguity, dynamism, and agency that occurred.

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