Un-educating the Colonial to Settler Colonial Mind-Body Discourse: an analysis of the institutional dismembership of First Nation Australians and a proposition for human rights and citizenship in the nation-state

Year: 2019

Author: O'Dowd, Mary, Frances

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The paper identifies and analyses a non-Indigenous form of colonial to settler colonial discourse in the conceptualisation of Australia and the idea of an Australian. It traces how this developed during colonialism and endures and adapts to retain settler colonial hegemony: socially, educationally and politically in the 21st century. It begins by briefly analysing the development of this discourse in its socio-historical context where 'Australia/Australian' were terms possessed by non-Indigenous people during the 19th century. With this analytical background the paper goes on to demonstrate the enduring discourse as an imagining, silencing and exclusion that leads to the ongoing dismemberment of First Nation Australians from social and political citizenship. It then applies the discourse analysis of ‘Australia’ to the assumption that Australia has an ‘Australian curriculum’. The paper moves forward to consider a specific example of the non-Indigenous colonial discourse, and consequent colonial mind, in education by reflecting on the example of the current discourse of ‘embedding Indigenous perspectives’ in pre-service teacher education and in the national curriculum while failing to decolonise non-Indigenous perspectives. It concludes the analysis by arguing non-Indigenous discourse enables enduring settler colonial power and, associated with this, a necessary enduring non-Indigenous problematisation of First Nation Australians. Theoretically the paper draws on Michel Foucault and scholarship arising from this; that is a theorization on how discourse operates to construct a version of the social world systemically, and where control and governance of citizens may operate a below conscious level through an internalized disciplining of thought. It thus draws on how discursive practices contribute to the constitution of knowledges (Fairclough, 1989; Jager, 2001; Youdell, 2003; Rogers, Malancharuvil-Berkes et al, 2005); and how performativity of ideas enact and are productive and so (re-) constitute the subject (Butler, 1993; 1997, 1997a). It also draws on theory from anti-racist pedagogy (particularly. Cochran-Smith 1995; 2003; Gillborn & Youdell, 2003). The conclusion is a proposal for an institutional strategy for targeting institutional racism including un-educating the colonial mind invested in non-Indigenous educators and students. Thus the paper proposes a social justice and a human rights strategy essential for a non-colonial non-Indigenous discourse of citizenship to exist in Australia.