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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 8: Indigenous bothness or rooted cosmopolitanism


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Indigenous bothness or rooted cosmopolitanism


In Parts I and II, we considered the orthodox Indigenous Studies attempt to include understandings about Indigenous issues and perspectives in the curriculum and to accommodate Indigenous students’ social and cultural particularities. Both adaptations to ‘normal’ teaching practice have been intended to make education more inclusive of and effective for Indigenous students, and develop settler-Australian students’ cultural understanding, and so facilitate the inclusion of Aborigines and Islanders as equals in Australian society. We have refined that approach by complicating the culture and history it teaches so that it more accurately reflects lived realities. We have moderated, complicated and localised but not quite overcome the orthodox focus on culture.

There has been significant criticism of the focus on culture in Indigenous education and Indigenous Studies, from many quarters. The criticism is that its effectiveness is compromised in part by its foundation in essentialist understandings of Aboriginality1 that are entirely inadequate to the actual subtlety, nuance, fluidity and ambiguity of the lived Indigeneities of today. It ignores Indigenous peoples’ immersion in multiple intersecting and mutually influencing cultures, the many parallel and intersected identities they as individuals develop and negotiate in their everyday social interactions, ← 175 | 176 → and their use of all human ways of learning.2 It is unable to account for the dynamism and diversity of cultural backgrounds and individual interests, abilities, strengths and needs that actually exist beyond the stereotypes and binaries....

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