Australian Aboriginal Studies Journal

Australian Aboriginal Studies Issue 1, 2017

aboriginal studies press journal cover issue 1

Editor: Dr Lawrence Bamblett 

Australian Aboriginal Studies is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal promoting high-quality research in Australian Indigenous studies, with a focus on the humanities and social sciences. It is published for a wide audience in both print and digital form, and visual content is encouraged.

Individuals, organisations and students can subscribe to Australian Aboriginal Studies. Standing orders are available for organisations.

You can access individual papers online via Informit.

Major articles

Photoyarn: Aboriginal and Mãori girls’ researching contemporary boarding school experiences— Jessa Rogers

Abstract: Few studies have primarily addressed Indigenous girls’ experiences in contemporary boarding schools in Australia or Aotearoa New Zealand. In response, this research was developed in conjunction with Indigenous students attending boarding schools to look at their school experiences. Fifteen Aboriginal girls attending two non-Indigenous Australian boarding schools and ten girls from one Mãori boarding school were involved in this research. An Indigenous research method termed ‘photoyarn’ was developed as a method students could use to drive and control their own research, on their own experiences, using student photo-graphy, yarning and yarning circles. Underpinned and viewed through the lens of Martin’s (2008) relatedness theory, this research also drew on Indigenous method­ologies centred on connectedness and relatedness, such as storywork. Photoyarn allowed participants to lead their own research in ways that many other methods could not, through participant-led data collection, analysis and dissemination.

Koolark koort koorliny: reconciliation, art and storytelling in an Australian Aboriginal community — Simon Forrest and Michelle Johnston

Abstract: In Nyungar Country, in the south-west corner of Western Australia, reconciliation has taken a significant step forward as the whole community expe­riences the healing effect of the Carrolup artworks — a collection of 122 drawings and paintings created in the late 1940s by Aboriginal children who had been forci­bly removed from their families and housed in harsh conditions at the Carrolup Native Settlement in the south-west of Western Australia. The artworks were lost for many years and then discovered and returned to Western Australia in 2013. With a Nyungar language title, koolark koort koorliny, which means ‘heart coming home’, the collection has commenced a series of tours and exhibitions throughout Nyungar Country. It has become evident that people are eager to engage with the exhibitions and that they provide the means by which the stories of the children, known as the Stolen Generations, can be shared with the wider community. They demonstrate the healing effect of that storytelling and are a source of pride for the Aboriginal community. The paintings celebrate traditional Nyungar culture and a unique Nyungar style of art. This paper discusses the artworks’ healing impact on the individuals who have experienced the trauma of removal from their fami­lies, and their power to bring black and white communities together in the spirit of reconciliation.

Drawings about Djang: drawings on paper by Jimmy Bireyula, 1983— Luke Taylor

Abstract: Interest in the drawings made by Aboriginal1 people and collected by anthropologists as a feature of their research of graphic representation is increasing. Of particular concern is the status of these collections as intercultural artefacts commissioned by the anthropologist and produced by the Aboriginal artists in order to teach about their cultural life. At issue is the appropriate manner of characterising the relation of this new activity in respect to older, and more local, cultural tropes. This study addresses a set of drawings made by Jimmy Bireyula, a Kuninjku language speaker, for the author in 1983. The works are intercultural in terms of the context of their production and the new uses of the materials supplied by the anthropologist and yet also develop established aesthetic and representational forms that are distinct to Kuninjku understanding of the powers of the Ancestral2 realm.

Australian Indigenous paediatric sleep: a descriptivesnapshot— Kelly Attard, Larissa Clarkson and Sarah Blunden

Abstract: Sleep has a substantial impact on a number of health facets for individu­als; however, there is a paucity of literature reporting the state of sleep health and frequency of sleep problems in Australian Indigenous children. This paper aims to describe the sleep patterns in 1671 Australian Indigenous children who are part of the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children. Waves 1–5, where the majority of sleep health data came from, had 1257 participants.

The narratives of Albert Namatjira — Wendy Aitken and Christopher Wareham

Abstract: Albert Namatjira gained public acclaim for his art at a time when Aboriginal people were excluded from full citizenship in Australia. His narrative provides a context to analyse the human impact of the assimilation policy and the official control exercised over Aboriginal lives, and how these were rationalised within the institutional bureaucracy. This paper examines the reasons for his popular success and analyses the discourse to reveal the racist assumptions that underpinned much of the artistic criticism Namatjira’s work received. This paper demonstrates that the legacy of control and exploitation over Aboriginal artists from the Hermannsburg School is not confined to the past, and concludes that Namatjira’s own legacy is profoundly important for the identity of modern Australia.

‘Say to yourself: do I want to be a doormat?’ Ageing Indigenous Australian women’s reflections on gender roles and agency— Tinashe Dune, Rubab Firdaus, Virginia Mapedzahama, Vanessa Lee, Jo Stewart, Wendy Tronc and Tensae Mekonnen

Abstract: Little is known about the restorative outcomes of Indigenous resilience borne through personal and community agency among Indigenous Australian women. This is particularly true of the agency of Indigenous women who often overcome the trap of colonial and postcolonial gender roles that ensnare women in limiting constructions of femininity — a situation that often becomes more restric­tive as women age. This paper addresses this gap in the literature by presenting findings on how ageing Indigenous Australian women talk about their own agency and gender role performance. The main themes relating to the women’s gender roles included their roles as mothers, wives, cultural custodians, grandmothers, carers of self, community workers and income earners. Agency included a number of themes: for oneself, changes over time, for others, barriers, facilitators and cata­lysts. The data generated from the focus groups give an insight of indigeneity and indicate a deep sense of community engagement, resilience and agency in the lives of Indigenous women and how these roles adapted over time to contemporary circumstances.

A regional governance structure for the Kimberley? Twenty-five years on from Crocodile Hole— Kathryn Thorburn

Abstract: Repatriation of song recordings from archives and private collections to communities of origin is both a common research method and the subject of critical discourse. In Australia it is a priority of many individual researchers and collecting institutions to enable families and cultural heritage communities to access recorded collections. Anecdotal and documented accounts describe benefits of this access. However, digital heritage items and the metadata that guide their discovery and use circulate in complex milieus of use and guardianship that evolve over time in relation to social, personal, economic and technological contexts. Ethnomusicologists, digital humanists and anthropologists have asked, what is the potential for digital items, and the content management systems through which they are often disseminated, to complicate the benefits of repatriation? How do the ‘returns’ from archives address or further complicate colonial assumptions about the value of research? This paper lays the groundwork for consideration of these questions in terms of cultural precedents for repatriation of song records in the Kimberley. Drawing primarily on dialogues between ethnomusicologist Sally Treloyn and senior Ngarinyin and Wunambal elder and singer Matthew Dembal Martin, the interplay of archival discovery, repatriation and dissemination, on the one hand, and song conception, song transmission, and the Law and ethos of Wurnan sharing, on the other, is examined. The paper provides a case for support for repatriation initiatives and for consideration of the critical perspectives of cultural heritage stakeholders on research transactions of the past and in the present.

Critical race theory and the orthodoxy of race neutrality: examining the denigration of Adam Goodes— Stella Coram and Chris Hallinan

Abstract: This study draws on critical race theory to examine common sense assumptions of race and racism so as to identify the distortions in logic in the justification that the booing of Indigenous athlete Adam Goodes was not ‘racist’. It is claimed that the central assumption of race neutrality relies on the assertion that non-Indigenous athletes are booed and that the booing of an individual such as Adam Goodes does not constitute racism since, for this to be the case, it must apply to all Indigenous athletes. Moreover, race is not targeted, only the athlete, nor is booing explicit of race. This study highlights the historical context within which Indigenous athletes are racially discriminated against. We contend that booing represents a covert reworking of the racial vilification of Indigenous athletes and that their vilification is but one form of racism. A theoretical piece, this paper follows in-depth examination of the content of booing (Coram 2016).