Alice Springs-based researcher and policy officer Dr Josie Douglas was announced as the recipient of the 2017 W E H Stanner award today.
Her winning manuscript entitled ‘Kin and Knowledge: the meaning and acquisition of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge in the lives of young Aboriginal people in Central Australia’, was selected from a record number of entries.
The biennial Stanner Award is open to all aspiring Indigenous authors of academic works, with the author of the winning submission receiving $5000 in prize money, an inscribed glass eel trap sculpture, and mentoring and editorial support to turn their manuscript into a publication.
The Chief Executive Officer of AIATSIS, Craig Ritchie, announced the winner in a ceremony in Canberra, noting the exceptionally strong field and record number of entries for this round.
“This unprecedented number of quality entries is a great reflection of the research that’s being carried out by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholars which AIATSIS is proud to support.
“Notwithstanding the many positive qualities identified in the shortlisted manuscripts, the judges were unanimous in identifying a clear winner as a manuscript that ‘actively challenges stereotypes and functions as a powerful counteractive against negative depictions and the deficit discourse around Aboriginal youth today,’” Mr Ritchie said.
Dr Josie Douglas, who holds a PhD from Charles Darwin University and graduated in 2016, was motivated by a concern that not enough was known about how young Aboriginal people engage with Indigenous Ecological Knowledge (IEK), and a desire to challenge negative stereotypes. Her doctoral research analysed the views of more than 150 Aboriginal youth, finding that despite the stresses and forces of modern life, cultural knowledge persists, and that young people and are integral to the future of IEK and practice in Central Australia.
“Young adults are engaging in cultural practices relating to birth, death and milestone life events through processes and practices of IEK. While there is widespread understanding of the factors contributing to knowledge decline, the factors and means by which Aboriginal people are regenerating and transmitting knowledge in response to new environmental, social and economic conditions is less well understood. Young people’s social and cultural lives remain relatively invisible and I wanted to change this,” Dr Douglas said.
In addition to the winning entry, three other manuscripts were highly commended by the judges for their original and sophisticated contributions to their fields of study:
- ‘Where’s all the community? Kinship, mobility and identity revisited in Aboriginal Melbourne’ by Dr Julie Andrews
- ‘FASD: From isolation to inclusion in Australian schools’ by Dr Deonne Basaraba
- ‘The Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship: A story of a dynamic Christian movement in Australia, 1970-1995’ by Dr Maxine Knap
The Award acknowledges the significant contribution of the late Emeritus Professor W E H (Bill) Stanner to the establishment and development of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), and is administered by its publishing arm Aboriginal Studies Press.
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