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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Re-presenting Indigenous Knowledges: Learning About or Learning From?

Bruce Campbell.

Indigenous knowledges have traditionally been presented in the curriculum as a means to learn about Indigenous cultures and, therefore, about the past or true nature of mainstream, hegemonic cultures. In this paper we subvert the notion that Indigenous knowledges are germane only to such anthropological learning, and propose instead that Indigenous Studies curricula should also present Indigenous knowledges as relevant to contemporary, mainstream issues and challenges. After discussing the significant neo-colonial risks this involves, we illustrate our proposal by presenting new perspectives on Indigenous Australian environmental ethics and traditional ecological knowledge.

Having established the grounds for a paradigmatic shift in the presentation of Indigenous knowledges, we examine the implications for education in the Western Australian school system. As part of the Society and Environment learning area, teachers are required to educate their students in 'Aboriginal Studies'. We analyse aspects of this curriculum to determine if the knowledges are presented anthropologically (learning about the other) or dialogically (mutual learning).


Bruce Campbell  (Australia)
Course coordinator/lecturer
Kurongkurl Katitjin School of Indigenous Australian Studies Faculty of Community Service, Education and Social Sciences
Edith Cowan University

With an interdisciplinary background in social theory and Asian Studies, Bruce Campbell has taught and researched in fields including the history of social and political theory, sociology of law, environmental politics, and Indigenous Australian Studies. His current research focus is on Indigenous environmental ethics and policing Indigenous communities. He is Course Coordinator and lecturer in the Bachelor of Social Science (Indigenous Services), Edith Cowan University, Western Australia.

  • Indigenous
  • Curriculum
  • Traditional
  • Contemporary
  • Environmental
  • Dialogic

(30 min Conference Paper, English)