Please knock before you enter: an investigation of how rainforest Aboriginal people regulate outsiders and the implications for western research and researchers

Martin, Karen (2006) Please knock before you enter: an investigation of how rainforest Aboriginal people regulate outsiders and the implications for western research and researchers. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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The regulation of Outsiders to Aboriginal Country is theorised by scholars as invasion and contact, race relations, frontiers and acculturation. In these theories Aboriginal People are represented as powerless and hopeless in the face of their inevitable assimilation. Aboriginal regulation of Outsiders is rarely investigated for Aboriginal agency. This research study investigated the agency of a Rainforest Aboriginal Community, the Burungu, Kuku-Yalanji of Far North Queensland, Australia in the regulation of Outsiders to their country of past, present and future. A major feature of this research study is its development of an Indigenist research paradigm founded on the principles of cultural respect and cultural safety and embedded in Aboriginal ontology, epistemology and axiology. It is through an ontological premise of relatedness and with the use of traditional devices such as First Stories and visual Stories that this Indigenist research paradigm makes transparent the assumptions, theory, methodology and ethics of the research study. The theoretical framework, called relatedness theory, is comprised of three conditions: Ways of Knowing, Ways of Being, and Ways of Doing. These conditions articulate particular orientations to knowing, being and doing that are available to Aboriginal scholars. Thus, Indigenist research methodology is both an inquiry and immersion process that is named after the Quampie, the pearl shell and consists of four phases. The first phase begins by working through the three conditions of relatedness theory. The second phase is an inquiry process structured by eight research procedures. The third phase is the immersion in the research study contexts. The fourth phase engages three Indigenist research projects of critique, re-framing and harmonisation to re-represent the research Stories. Quampie methodology, as Indigenist research methodology, requires culturally rigorous choices to be made for methods for data collection. Thus the research study utilised multiple methods for data collection. These are the analysis of literature produced by the Burungu, Kuku-Yalanji and the analysis of selected literature about them; field visits and Storywork. Storywork is a culturally safe, culturally respectful and culturally relevant research method based on Aboriginal epistemology, communication protocols and discourse. This research study found the Burungu, Kuku-Yalanji have always exerted agency in the regulation of Outsiders and this is theorised in three forms of relatedness: ngarrbal meaning ‘stranger’ is an Outsider who is unknown; waybal meaning ‘whiteman’ is an Outsider who is known about, and jarwon meaning ‘friend’ is an Outsider who is known. Each form of relatedness is regulated according to the types and levels of physical, social, emotional, cultural and economic relatedness between Burungu, Kuku-Yalanji and the Outsiders. These are either direct or indirect regulations that occur in limited interactions, limited engagements or sustained engagements. Accordingly, ngarrbal, or ‘stranger’ is regarded as a temporary state of relatedness by the Burungu, Kuku-Yalanji who regulate and mediate the interactions through series of enfoldments and evolvements. These are established as processes of ‘coming amongst’ and ‘coming alongside’ the Burungu, Kuku-Yalanji in relatedness as an ‘another’. Outsiders achieve this in fulfilling conditions of honesty, co-operation and respect and at the same time, maintain their own identity and autonomy so that relatedness is expanded and not diminished or replaced. Thereby, the agency of Burungu, Kuku-Yalanji, in the regulation of Outsiders of past, present and future, is as madja, meaning boss, in that they have never excluded anyone who fulfils these conditions but have equally protected their own relatedness. The implications and challenges for western research and researchers is to engage research as an interface where conceptual, cultural and historical spaces interface or come alongside each other based on new relationships to knowledge, to research and to self. Thus, Protocols for research developed for this research study demonstrate these different relationships in a research agreement that gives greater agency to the Burungu, Kuku-Yalanji. The Protocols state seven rules for research to direct culturally safe and culturally respectful researcher behaviour and ensure researcher responsibilities and accountabilities to the Burungu, Kuku-Yalanji, the research study and the academy are fulfilled. This stronger dialogic and self-reflexive researcher role works towards addressing, if not neutralising, issues of power of researcher over researched. When research is transformed in this way, it is itself, transformative and works towards achieving Aboriginal sovereignty in research.

Item ID: 4745
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Aborigines, North Queensland, Mossman, Buru, Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, rainforest, outsiders, tourists, regulation, Aboriginal agency, Burungu, Kuku-Yalanji people, ways of knowing, ways of doing, ways of being, indigenist research, relatedness theory, Quampie methodology, storywork
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Restricted access - strictly no access to full thesis due to cultural sensitivities.

Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2009 05:19
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9503 Heritage > 950302 Conserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage @ 60%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture @ 40%
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