Staging standpoint dialogue in tristate education: Privileging Anangu voices

Staging standpoint dialogue in tristate education: Privileging Anangu voices Thesis

College of Education

  • Author(s): Osborne, Sam
  • Published: 2017
  • Publisher: Victoria University
  • Volume: PhD

Abstract: Aboriginal education in remote areas of Australia continues to be a contested focus for policy and practice, with little debate that actively involves Aboriginal people themselves. This thesis attempts to redress this gap in a small way by in-depth conversations about education with Anangu in the tristate area of central Australia (the region where Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory meet). Here Aboriginal people live in relatively small, dispersed desert communities with close language and familial connections. Contact with Europeans is relatively recent, with provision of schooling moving from centralised mission-based schooling to decentralised community schools following the 1967 referendum. Anangu children are frequently positioned as deficient in mainstream educational achievement narratives within colonial and neo- colonial educational endeavours. This study seeks to inform Anangu education policy and practice from Anangu standpoints and to explore the potential for standpoint dialogue in negotiating alternatives in tristate education (Harding, 1992). This thesis privileges Anangu standpoint accounts in relation to young people, education and the future. The series of interviews, held across several years and translated and presented with minimal editing, are predominantly held in local languages and demonstrate the priority of oral histories and stories as Indigenous genres for knowledge sharing. A textual standpoint dialogue is staged between Anangu participants and trusted Piranpa (non-Indigenous) education leaders whom Anangu participants identify, describing practice from the 1950s to the current day. Through investigation of a number of historical sources, the background to colonial contact and approaches to provision of education in the tristate area in the twentieth century is provided which correlates with the Anangu standpoints given in the series of interviews. Diverse histories and interactions with colonialism and education shape points of difference between and among Anangu (Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara/Ngaanyatjarra) standpoints (Nakata, 2007a). The Anangu stories reflect how colonial interests are privileged in the historical interactions with cattle stations (including the removal of children), the Maralinga bomb, centralisation of populations to mission centres and sporadic engagement with mining interests. This study found that deep conversations about education across Anangu and Piranpa standpoints have been difficult even where educators spoke local languages and developed close relationships with Anangu. Educators feel caught between professional imperatives for upward accountability and personal conviction of the need for reciprocal accountability to community priorities and demands. Significant points of epistemic differentiation between Western norms represented in educational policy and practices and Anangu lives underscore the importance of seeking venues for standpoint dialogue where Anangu voices are privileged in (re)shaping Anangu education provision. Implications for inducting educators into remote schools are also explored.

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Osborne, Sam, 2017, Staging standpoint dialogue in tristate education: Privileging Anangu voices, Volume:PhD, Thesis, viewed 18 April 2024,

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