Pedagogies for troubling English with an Indigenous canon

Year: 2019

Author: Kelly, Stephen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Given political calls to recontextualise a Western tradition in Australian schooling in keeping with Enlightenment values, this paper explores the embedding of Indigenous texts in Australian Curriculum: English. In subject English, learners are encouraged to work with Indigenous texts, however, policies for English language and its cultural artefacts, axiomatically orient the representation and production of cultural knowledge. Indigenous texts, removed from the context of cultural production are translated, and iterably cited when materially subjected to comparative modes of cultural analysis. The disciplinary practices of English police Australian Indigenous narratives against the literary contours of an English speaking landscape, effectively violating the ontological integrity of Aboriginal story.

This paper draws on the cosmologies of Australian Aboriginal cultures to frame literary readings of Indigenous texts: it aims to connect the experience of place and time through the strata of culturally located experience. This is to conceive of Indigenist analytics as enactments of thought, constituted by the double experience of being present in the time and space of dreaming. In responding to technologies of government, as exemplified in the policy effects of the Australian Curriculum, I attend to the quality of attention required when actively listening, fearlessly speaking and observing when enunciating local cultural practices. I present these characteristics as entangled elements of subaltern subjectivity and democratic processes. Drawing on Foucault’s (2010)conceptualisation of power, knowledge and the subject, I offer empirical descriptions of cultural practices that re-territorialise (Deleuze & Guattari, 2004)Indigenous and other ways of being and knowing as onto-epistemic resources for a decolonised curriculum and pedagogy.

I argue that curriculum policy needs to foreground Indigenous ways of being and knowing, in response to ways in which Aboriginal cosmologies and epistemologies have been delimited through the constitution of the Australian Curriculum: English. In making this argument, I propose that curriculum and pedagogy might be seen as embodied thought acting within a mutable field of worldly relations : the power of the English curriculum to subjugate an equality of epistemic resources is countered by a pedagogy in which human subjects experience an equality of relation to each other and to the terra/world to which each is a part. Curriculum and pedagogy need not divide but are in a transformative relation which connect the footprints of cultural experience and production as being, knowing and acting in the world rather than a power/knowledge which possesses the world.