Teaching from Country International Seminar

From July 27th to 29th 2009, the School of Australian Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Charles Darwin University, hosted a three day extended seminar at the SAIKS Seminar Room, on the Casuarina Campus, to report on the ‘Teaching from Country’ Program, and to explore issues around the engagement of Indigenous knowledge authorities in university teaching and research. The Teaching from Country program has been funded through a National Fellowship from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council.



Seminar papers

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Monday 27th July: Teaching from Country

10 am
Teaching from Country: a report to the community

Michael Christie, Yiŋiya, Guthadjaka, Dhäŋgal, John Greatorex, Trevor van Weeren

At this session Michael gave a report on the ALTC Senior Fellowship, Teaching from Country. He spoke about the five goals, and the progress made towards them, and showed a DVD which includes excerpts from the 28 trials we have enjoyed over the past six months. Then the main Yolŋu teachers, and John Greatorex, the Yolŋu Studies coordinator, and Trevor van Weeren website developer and technical expert introduced themselves. Members of the audience were invited to write their reflections and questions on paper during the three days of talks, and these questions were addressed by the speakers and the audience in the final forum on Wednesday.

12 noon
1 pm
Yolŋu Researchers panel

John Greatorex introduced Yolŋu involved in the project.  They showed digital resources, and talked about their work, including powerpoint presentations which were prepared for teaching, videos of live teaching sessions from country, Skype and Google earth.

2 pm
Multimedia Salon

Trevor presented a poster display and talked about some of the socio-technical issues he has been dealing with.  Michael talked about a poster addressing questions of remuneration for Aboriginal knowledge authorities working within the academy. Several computers and display boards were set up in building Blue 4 where people could look at some of the videos which are currently available on the Teaching from country website, and talk to some of the Yolŋu lecturers about their experience of the program. 

3 pm
Helen Verran (University of Melbourne)

Seeing Teaching from Country as the latest in a series of engagements between modern institutions and Yolŋu Aboriginal knowledge traditions: Histories Staying in Place

Helen's Introduction: In my talk I will locate the Teaching from Country initiative in what I propose as a series of linked engagements between knowledges of modern/ising institutions and Yolŋu knowledge traditions involving legal, educational, and environmental thinking.  In proposing this I will be asking what it means to take seriously the Yolŋu notion that histories stay in place.

Sally Treloyn, (Coordinator, National Recording Project for Indigenous Performance)
Faculty of Law, Business and Arts Seminar

Strategies for preserving and sustaining Australian Aboriginal song and dance in the modern world
see details below


Tuesday 28th July: Indigenous Knowledge in the Academy

9 am
Wendy Brady (School of Australian Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Charles Darwin University)

Toxic debt: the Indigenous knowledge economy and the academy.

10 am
Greg Williams (School of AustralianIndigenous Knowledge Systems, CDU)

Exploring pedagogical Practice in an Indigenous Academic Space: Teaching from the School of Australian Indigenous Knowledge Systems

Recognising the local nature of knowledge draws us to recognise the importance of teaching from country, or perhaps teaching from place. Drawing on some of the experiences of teaching from within the School of Australian Indigenous Knowledge Systems and its predecessors, the pedagogical and political implications of teaching from country will be explored.

11 am
Dr Sandy O’Sullivan (Batchelor Institute Indigenous Tertiary Education)

New media in Indigenous Research.

Sandy O'Sullivan (Wiradjuri Nation) is a Researcher at Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education and a current ALTC Teaching Fellow.   Her current work examines the variety of ways that new media forms facilitate the dissemination of Indigenous research. This paper explores how new media forms using a practice-based research model, serve as appropriate dissemination forms for Indigenous research.

12 noon
1 pm
Robynne Quiggin (Vincent-Quiggin Legal and Consulting Services)

Australian and Indigenous Intellectual Property laws, the internet, and the academy.

2 pm
Student forum: Convened by Christian Clark.

Students spoke about their experiences participating in Indigenous Studies, Yolŋu studies, and Teaching from Country.

3 pm
Susan Leigh Star (University of Pittsburgh)

Shunned Knowledges:  Secrets, Shameful Knowing, Knowing from Forgotten Places

Leigh's introduction: This talk will pick up the topic of ways of knowing that are shunned, shamed, and forgotten. We will look at the politics of knowledge; how some secrets are powerful and good, other painful and shameful.  We will try to understand together what makes some knowledge "unthinkable."  I believe that all such knowledge is powerful in particular ways, and I'm interested in exploring with you the nature of those ways.

4 pm

Wednesday 29th July: Indigenous Knowledge and Science - National and International Perspectives

Ian Nigh (United Nations University, Institute of Advanced Studies, Traditional Knowledge Initiative)
Annette Kogolo and Alwyn Lyall (Northern Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance)

Formal recognition of traditional knowledge in the academy.

The Higher Education Recognition for Traditional Knowledge Project uses action learning methodologies and social networks to foster creative cross-breeding between Aboriginal and western epistemologies. Annette Kogolo and Alwyn Lyall, MSc candidates and facilitators from the NAILSMA Indigenous Community Water Facilitators Network will present the initial outcomes and experiences from the project together with Project Manager Ian Nigh.

10 am
Keith Warner (Assistant Director for Education, Center for Science, Technology & Society and Lecturer in Religious Studies; Santa Clara University)

Patterns of partnerships with conservation scientists: indigenous peoples, their environmental knowledges, cosmologies, and moral visions

For twenty years scholars and practitioners have debated the feasibility and desirability of conservation partnerships that work collaboratively with indigenous peoples and their ecological knowledge. Some partnerships re-inscribe oppression of indigenous peoples in the name of nature conservation, in part by ignoring the ways in which indigenous knowledge is embedded within specific cosmological and moral visions. This presentation proposed a criterion of humility for scientists to guide the creation of authentic partnerships based on mutuality.

11 am
Margaret Ayre, Emma Woodward (Commonwealth Scientific Industrial and Research Organisation, Northern Territory)

Water Planning and Indigenous knowledge in Northern Australia

1 pm
Paul Dourish (University of California, Irvine)

Knowledge, Design, Method: Understanding Technology Design Methods across Cultural Settings

Projects like Teaching From Country exemplify an approach to culturally-sensitive information system design that depends on close partnership between different stakeholders and knowledge communities.  These projects emphasize the deeply local practices that make technologies meaningful to particular communities, in contrast to the universalizing assumptions that lie behind many of the representational systems at the heart of information technology design. They also throw up important questions for the methods by which these systems are developed. In this talk, I will discuss ongoing research into the "portability" of technological design methods and design approaches (with a particular emphasis on interactive digital technologies) and discuss our work to date, which has looked in particular at design practice in India, using this to ground a conversation about the experience of the TfC project and potential relationships between the two.

2 pm
Geoff Bowker, (University of Pittsburgh)

All Knowledge is Local

A central way of understanding ways of knowing has been to divide them into two main categories - on one hand you have 'scientific' knowledge which is universally true and culturally invariant, on the other hand you have 'local' or 'indigenous' knowledge, which is tied to place and culture.  I argue that these categories create barriers to our understanding of the nature of knowledge in general - in particular the role of place and culture in 'scientific' knowledge and the role of epistemological and ontological insight in 'local' knowledge.  I draw on a range of examples to illustrate this abstract argument.

3 pm
Closing Forum: Chaired by Helen Verran

The key people who have been involved in the Teaching from Country project will join with the audience to address some of the questions and reflections which have arisen during the program.

8 pm
Susan Leigh Star (University of Pittsburgh)

Silence and Invisible work

This paper will be part of a longer discussion in feminist Science and Technology Studies (STS) concerning whose work gets silenced and whose gets represented, whose "counts." Work is a form of materiality and representation, of the doing and the done, and one of the (I think) quinessential mixtures within STS.  One way to frame the discussion might be to start with the question:  what connects and interrupts the links between SSK (sociology of scientific knowledge) and the SSW (sociology of scientific work)?

International Video Conference Seminar for the STS Mixtures series from Lancaster University, UK.
Education Lecture Theatre, Blue 5.1.01


Late abstracts:
Sally Treloyn, (Coordinator, National Recording Project for Indigenous Performance)
Faculty of Law, Business and Arts Seminar

Thayalgu Nhurna Thaabi (Capturing Our Songs): Preliminary report on the Sustaining Ngarluma Song project

This seminar will outline a collaborative research project initiated by Andrew Moorumburri Dowding from the Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation (NAC) (Roebourne, WA) with Sally Treloyn and Allan Marett from Charles Darwin University. The project (which has recently been approved for three years of funding by the Australian Research Council) has been developed in response to questions faced by the NAC in their efforts to increase knowledge of, participation in and control over Ngarluma song and dance across the Ngarluma community. The aim of the research is to identify ways to foster and strengthen intergenerational engagement around song and dance activities and knowledge production through workshops, investigating and documenting Ngarluma song and dance traditions using archival and new recordings, developing local, accessible media archives, and supporting the interests and skills of Ngarluma young people in mobile multimedia technologies and social networking platforms. 

Sally Treloyn is a Research Fellow in the Faculty of Law, Business and Arts at CDU and Co-ordinator of the National Recording Project for Indigenous Performance in Australia (www.aboriginalartists.com.au/NRP.htm). Sally will take up an ARC Post-Doctoral (Industry) Fellowship in 2010 with the ARC Linkage project Strategies for preserving and sustaining Australian Aboriginal song and dance in the modern world: the Ngarluma community of Roebourne, WA.