01 November 2012

Dr Irene Watson.The greater accommodation of Indigenous knowledges within universities and society is a key theme Dr Irene Watson will raise when she presents the 2012 Duguid Memorial Lecture at City West campus this month.

The biennial public lecture, which is organised jointly by the University of South Australia and Flinders University, is in honour of the lives of Dr Charles Duguid OBE and his wife, Mrs Phyllis Duguid OAM, who both advocated the advancement of Indigenous people.

In her presentation, Dr Watson, Associate Professor in Aboriginal Studies at the David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research, will examine how Indigenous knowledges are taught in society and what can be done to sustain these knowledges, including languages, for future generations.

“It should be a challenge in 2012 for us all to think what kind of relationship we have with the knowledges of the First Nations Peoples of this country,” Dr Watson says.

“There is still so much about the knowledges of Indigenous people that is discounted. This manifests itself in the failure of modern Australia society to respond in an effective way to Aboriginal languages.

“Once there were 250 languages spoken and today just 17 are spoken regularly across Australia.

“Language carries with it the knowledge of so many other things, including knowledge of environment and the knowledge of intricate kinship systems.”

Dr Watson suggests a greater positioning of Aboriginal academics, to take centre stage in teaching their own history, culture and values, to be essential to progress and sustainability.

“A greater Aboriginal voice is needed; an authentic voice that doesn’t need to be spoken for. Historically Aboriginal people were spoken for because of Australia’s history as a colony.

“Aboriginal peoples are gaining more prominent positions in academia and have powerful voices, and so this is about positioning Aboriginal academics and the community they come from, to be the narrator of their own stories.

“This inclusion needs to embrace Indigenous principles of respect, recognition and reciprocity.

“Universities are good at getting people job ready for the modern market but there is not much thinking about the constructions of Aboriginality in a positive way, as a way of building future Aboriginal communities that are valued, that will be sustained.”

The Duguid memorial Lecture is free and will commence at 6pm on November 12, in the Allan Scott Auditorium, The Hawke Building, North Terrace, Adelaide.

Registrations are essential and can be made by calling 8302 0160 (or giving@unisa.edu.au). 

Media contact: Will Venn office 8302 0965 email Will.Venn@unisa.edu.au

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