Inclusive Methodologies - Decolonising the Research Process: Working in Collaboration with Aboriginal Artists in Southeast Australia

Fran Edmonds
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Methodologies in Australian Aboriginal research have generally been developed from within the ‘Western’ research paradigm. This approach has failed to address issues of concern to Aboriginal people, for example those associated with poor health. This can be viewed as a direct consequence of colonisation, where the Aboriginal ‘voice’ has remained peripheral to the research process. Within my PhD, a methodology has been developed which incorporates the oral history tradition of Aboriginal people from southeast Australia. Drawing on the theoretical perspectives of ‘decolonisation’, which refers here to an attempt at addressing the impact of colonisation by incorporating Aboriginal perspectives in the research process, I will argue that an inclusive and collaborative approach to research can facilitate benefits that are appropriate, relevant and meaningful to the Community. I will discuss this in terms of arts practices within the Aboriginal Community of southeastern Australia and argue that, despite colonisation, arts practices today are associated with oral traditions and histories which link people to their cultural heritage and thereby improve Community wellbeing. Examples of the inclusion of Community members in the design of the project, and strategies used to facilitate ongoing links with the Community will be discussed. I will establish that a methodology that includes people can enhance the research process and in turn achieve successful outcomes for the Community.

Keywords: Decolonising, Methodology, Southeast Australian Aboriginal People, Art
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Fran Edmonds

PhD candidate, Univeristy of Melbourne
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

My name is Fran Edmonds. I am a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne. I am currently undertaking my study through the Centre for Health and Society and Onemda, VicHealth Koori Health Unit. My PhD is a collaborative project which is looking at the practice and knowledge of southeast Australian Aboriginal art and its relationship to Community wellbeing. The cooperation of the Aboriginal Community in the development and planning of this project has been essential for its relevance and acceptance within the Community. My interest in this project living and working in Aboriginal Communities in Central Australia where I undertook a Master of Arts on the history of remote area Women's Centres. Later I became involved in Native Title claims in the Northern Territory, New South Wales and Victoria as a consultant historian and researcher. My experience with remote area and urban Aboriginal Communities demonstrated the significance of art practice for Aboriginal people in maintaining and reinforcing their cultural wellbeing.

Ref: I07P0292