The Contact Zone: The Intersection of Indigenous Knowledges in the Arts and Humanities

Abstract

Settler societies and indigenous peoples operate in the contact zone routinely in asymmetrical relations of power. Through the integration of indigenous knowledges in curriculum areas in the Arts and Humanities ontological shifts have shaped knowledge production. Whilst power relations and their systems remain firmly entrenched with settler societies, there have been necessary shifts in understanding methodological and research practices in the Arts and Humanities as a result of Indigenous epistemologies. In Australia, Indigenous methodological practices in universities have shaped knowledge production (Rigney 1999). Indigenous methodologies reflect; ‘Indigenous peoples' interest, knowledge and experiences' (Rigney 1999, p. 119) and deconstruct western research that has historically disempowered Indigenous peoples. Moreover, Indigenous knowledge firmly centers Indigenous agency and sovereignty at the core of discourse, which re-constitutes settler Australian identity and notions of connectedness as a nation. Re-dressing the constructions of Indigenous identity that negatively positioned Indigenous peoples has occurred through incorporating Indigenous perspectives into curriculum areas. This paper explores shifts in knowledge production within the Humanities and Arts that have shaped understandings of identity within the Australian context. The paper mobilises contact zone theory (Pratt 1991) as a discursive frame to explore the impact of Indigenous perspectives within curriculum areas in the Humanities and Arts, and reviews the challenges students face when confronted by their own sense of complicity in the alienation of minority peoples.



Author Information
Bindi MacGill, Flinders University, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2013
Stream: Arts & Humanities

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