Decolonising the reading of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writing: reflection as transformative practice

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Higher Education Research and Development, 2019, 38 (1), pp. 24 - 37
Issue Date:
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© 2018, © 2018 HERDSA. First Nations writing within English literary studies risks contemporary colonisation if encountered as a literary object for close reading without context or reflection on the role of the reader. This article will explore the processes involved in constructing an innovative reading practice amongst tertiary students to counter the potential for intentional or unintentional colonial readings. Dr Sandra Phillips, First Nations academic and researcher, initiated and applied the reading practice (which overtly incorporates student/reader standpoint and then reflection on the impact of that standpoint among other considerations) from her PhD scholarship then applied it to her curriculum design of ‘Reading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Writing’, which forms the basis of this research. Dr Clare Archer-Lean continued the coordination and teaching of the curriculum at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland after Sandra moved tertiary institutions. The two academics continue to collaborate on the curriculum review and reflect on the processes of teaching and crafting this form of reading practice and assessment. Their aim has been to create a reading practice that accounts for the position and influence of the reader in the cross-cultural, or co-cultural, reading process. This is primarily achieved by acknowledging the role and influence of standpoint in the reading process as well as deepening reading through an understanding of the cultural, social and political discourses affecting the production, distribution and reception of First Nations writing in the Australian context.
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