Privileging First Nations Knowledge: Looking Back to Move Forward

Gilbey, Kathryn (2014) Privileging First Nations Knowledge: Looking Back to Move Forward. PhD thesis, Batchelor Institute.

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This thesis was written as a counter to the dominant narrative of Batchelor Institute being just another Aboriginal organisation that was run into the ground, by Aboriginal incapacity. Instead it is written to highlight the subtle hidden ways that racist ideologies infiltrate a workplace, in this case, an Indigenous tertiary education workplace. I name behaviours in the five data chapters of the thesis and match existing theories to the narratives of these chapters introducing and shining a spotlight on the possessive investment in ignorance that manifests itself as a means of protecting and maintaining white privilege. I look at assimilative mimicry and how it is played out in an educational setting like Batchelor Institute. There are internal contradictions and battles, I have named these as a site of interdiction.

Batchelor Institute has a mandate and a mission statement that seeks to better the lives of Aboriginal people, not in a missionary or false ‘empowering way’ but through the truth about our history and a belief in our culture. When this organisation meets the coloniser’s deliberate denial of truth and history it causes internal conflicts which results in the right environment for an interdictory site.

Often when writing theoretically, concepts become abstracted, when talking of theories it is often too easy to read and distance oneself from the reality of actions. My intention in this thesis is to start with the daily interactions and encroachments on the operations of the Institute to highlight the small, myriad and complex ways that racist ideologies are enacted. This is done in chapters five to nine through narrative and a first person account of important moments as understood through my perspective. It is a step by step account of how whiteness centres itself within interdictory sites and how white privilege operates.

The thesis is designed to provide the theoretical and historical information that informs the reading of the data (narrative) chapters. The theoretical analyses in the final chapters encompass all the information read from the data chapters and concludes with a meta-analysis from which the learnings from my research are presented in a succinct set of action-oriented principles. My theoretical analyses, interweaves theory and past Australian government policies with contemporary accounts of the struggle to embed First Nations cultural knowledges and pedagogies, within Indigenous education. It illustrates how mimicry, interdiction, subjection and abjection are all tools that serve to maintain ignorance which in turn serves to maintain white privilege.

By trusting in our old cultures that have never really let us down we can regain our pride and belief in this organisation as a transformed First Nations site of scholarship, learning and cultural celebration.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Field of Research (2008): 13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Studies
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education
Research Collaboration Area: Education
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2016 23:08
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2016 23:08

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