Global Indigeneity and Reconciliation

These 15 and 16 year old boys are men. All but one of them has been through an initiation ceremony. This status makes it more difficult for them to attend school. Here they are pictured in front of a mural which says 'Youth Outreach Team. Incite Youth Arts and CAAC AHYS Gap Youth Centre'. The Youth Outreach bus operates three nights a week and drives home 3,000 boys and youths per year. Alice Springs, Australia, July 2011.

How can we collaboratively understand and enact forms of meaningful engagement across cultural difference?

Based upon a foundational ethic of reciprocity, this program investigates global and local indigeneity in the context of a worldwide movement for social change.

Research focus

Our research is provoked by the narrow politicization of indigeneity and reconciliation, and the violence it affects on customary cultures. We seek to unsettle dominant social praxis derived from extant Western ideological preconceptions about Indigenous cultures and difference. Through critically addressing contemporary issues of human rights, social justice and conservation, this Program aims to evoke epistemological and ontological alternatives to those envisaged by current dominant modern thought.

Description of program

The program aims to understand indigeneity through meaningful engagement with indigenous peoples and others who relate to their lives. Our research therefore informs and is informed by those whose lives we study. Secondly, our research is concerned with policy and practice that gives rise to local and global processes of reconciliation—processes which improve the livelihoods, health and wellbeing of those whose alternate ways of life are being fractured by globalizing change.

We view indigeneity and reconciliation through various theoretical and practical lenses, including gender, health, sport, dance and cinema to undertake projects that afford new knowledge but most importantly honour and respect those who invite us into their lives. Ethical considerations are of paramount importance in the guiding principles of the program. As such, our research follows the cultural practices of Ngapartji Ngapartji to forge long-standing, ongoing research partnerships founded on principles of shared meanings and reciprocal exchange. From the Pitjantjatjara language this term translates as ‘I give you something; you give me something’.

Research themes

The overarching direction of the program is to create ethical relationships with indigenous peoples that impact their lives and the well being of their communities through the achievement of positive research outcomes.

1. Indigeneity and confronting modern change
Global indigeneity exists contemporaneous with the non-indigenous world and its claims to ‘modernity’, ‘post-colonialism’ and ‘globalism’.  The program seeks to document the multiplicity of ways that contemporary forms of global indigeneity engage with the non-indigenous social, cultural, economic and political world in their struggles to maintain difference.  The alterity embodied by global indigeneity offers non-indigenous peoples different understandings of reality and different systems to understand knowledge.  The program is deeply committed to communicating the value inherent in the alterity of global indigeneity and to explore ways that indigenous entanglements with ‘modernity’, ‘post-colonialism’ and ‘globalism’ might produce productive outcomes insofar as these uphold indigenous ‘tradition’ while also enhancing non-indigenous understanding of the world.

2. Aboriginal youth and sport
Sport is a high profile area of Australian popular culture where Indigenous people have a long and proud record of achieving excellence despite a history of socio-economic disadvantage and political discrimination.  Participation in sport creates opportunities for Aboriginal youth to develop leadership skills and make positive contributions to their individual well being of that of their communities.  The program seeks to explore the ways in which grass-roots participation in sport can empower Aboriginal youth to develop the skill set that will enable them to assume positions of leadership within their communities and beyond.  The program is interested in exploring how community level sports in Aboriginal communities can create, extend and enhance the breadth of life opportunities that are available to Aboriginal youth in achieving improved outcomes in the areas of employment, education and training.

3. Reconciliation
The program supports local and global efforts to promote communication, dialogue and enhanced understanding between indigenous and non-indigenous people worldwide.  Reconciliation in the context this program is fundamentally concerned with the building and enhancement of meaningful research relationships in ways intended to improve the social, cultural, political and economic wellbeing of indigenous peoples in their continued struggle to maintain independent and unique identities in the face of global forces of change.


For more information on Global Indigeneity and Reconciliation, please contact the Program Manager, Tim Butcher.