New challenges and opportunities for Indigenous education and research in the post imperial world

Year: 2016

Author: Anderson, Peter

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In a ‘post imperial’ democracy such as Australia, with its deeply rooted ideological Westerncolonialist institutions, Indigenous staff and students on campus are constantly vying to createand to occupy a legitimate space (Anderson, 2015). Overwhelmingly the ‘Indigenous’ spacewithin Australian universities has been constructed through research and discourse thatdescribes this space in deficit terms (Devlin, 2009) by framing ‘Aboriginal’ education as a seriesof problems in need of solutions. In many respects these narratives repeat the colonial discoursesthat cast Aboriginal spaces as being inferior to Western ones by leaving unchallenged or byrepeating myths that impose binary understandings of cultural and racial inferiority andsuperiority.The increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people engaging in andsucceeding in Australian universities and the growth in the number of Indigenous peopleworking and teaching in universities is making it more and more difficult to sustain theseproblematic colonial narratives. This keynote will explore the ways in which the presence andcontributions of Aboriginal people and perspectives within Australian universities are essentialin creating truly post imperial universities by destabilising and eroding colonial discourses,power structures, and social hierarchies. As Aboriginal peoples’ achievements andaccomplishments grow, Indigenous spaces within Australian universities will be increasingly‘legitimised’ by achievement and successes rather than by colonial fantasies of whitebenevolence.