This contribution to our Governance Lunches discussion was drafted by Michael in response to requests from our last meeting. We invite discussion on any of these points towards our thinking together.
The 1980s (when some of us were at Yirrkala) was characterised as the era of ‘Aboriginalisation’. That meant many things, but two of them were the development of a Yolngu curriculum, and the Remote Aboriginal Teacher Education program both of which which took seriously Yolngu knowledge practices. (Helen and Juli were both key players)
When the Yolngu studies program started at CDU (then NTU) we tried to implement some of those good-enough both-ways practices, first for teaching and then for research – in a number of different research projects, including YACI.
We continue to work carefully with Yolngu philosophers to hear what they have to say about knowledge, agreement making, authority, the body, the environment, time, money, and more recently, governance and governmentalities.
We also engage (mostly through Helens help) some of the current theory at work in the academic world – for example Actor Network Theory and material semiotics, and the pragmatist philosophers John Dewey and Kathryn Pyne Addelson and others – Latour, Deleuze, Foucault…
We discern a link between Yolngu practices of encounter and engagement, and the ‘metaphysics of emergence’ looking at how new ideas, practices, and theorisations come out of participants in collective action working together to address the ‘problems of the moment’ and ways of going forward together.
What here might look like simply good manners uncovers a commitment to a particular way of ‘doing’ the world, where categories are always provisional and emergent, when dualisms are not a priori, but effects of collaborative work, where narrative enables us to go beyond linear progressive time and the individualism of western ethics and political philosophy.
Currently we see our work as ‘GroundUp’ because we want to avoid the grand narratives and see ourselves as engaging on the ground, in the moment, in collective action, and to do our work so that it ramifies outwards and upwards into incremental changes in practices.
We want our research to be generative, and our outputs to be performative, so we attempt to develop websites which can participate actively in our going on together. Our websites include www.cdu.edu.au/yaci, www.cdu.edu.au/tfc www.cdu.edu.au/ik and www.cdu.edu.au/groundup