The ethical work of Cultural Competence

Year: 2017

Author: Keech, Sarah

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Over the last decade, the collaboration between Universities Australia and the Indigenous Higher Education Advisory Council has produced a series of recommendations and best practice examples to support the goal of increased Indigenous cultural competence in Australian higher education institutions. While this is undoubtedly an important goal, one tied to improving the educational experiences of Indigenous students and embedding Indigenous knowledge across disciplines, two significant critiques of cultural competence for Indigenous focused and Indigenous Studies teaching have emerged questioning the potential for an emphasis on 'knowing' cultural difference in the absence of an analysis of power (see Hollinsworth 2013 and Carey 2015). This paper examines these critiques and draws on Foucault's history of 'ascetics', as the work one performs on the self to become an ethical subject, to consider how cultural competency might engage specific technologies of the self. My aim is to explore the relations between these practices of self and other notable pedagogies in Indigenous Studies higher education contexts, with a specific focus on the role of self-reflection.