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Theorising Survival: Indigenous Women and Social and Emotional Wellbeing

By Jennifer Baker

Overview

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"The great strength of this work lies in the way that the author structures the argument to show how Indigenous peoples have been marginalized by the artificial separation of the humanities and the sciences and by the separation of theory and practice. The author positions the Indigenous subject in health science research and health science texts and then applies a theoretical model of alterity drawn from transnational cultural studies and feminist studies of the history of the philosophy of science. She argues that a framework that includes the history of race in relation to Indigenous peoples is critical to making even the most radical forms of counselling and therapy relevant for Indigenous people."

Professor Lyndall Ryan, University of Newcastle

 

Jenny Baker is a Mirning woman whose mother and grandmother were born either side of the Nullarbor Plain on the southern coast of Australia. She has a PhD and a Master of Primary Health Care from Flinders University in South Australia and trained as a registered nurse at the Adelaide Children’s Hospital Inc in the early 1970s.
She is currently Associate Professor and Director of the Yaitya Purruna Indigenous Health Unit in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Adelaide.

Table of Contents

Chapter Contents

Introduction: Knowing the other and the “worlding of a world”
I’m (no longer) someone from the government
The Chapters: Writing from an interdisciplinary space
Connecting with work on health and healing

1. Not another Native Informant
Notions of ‘consciousness’ as a basis for colonial barbarism
The ‘worlding of the world’ at Fowler’s Bay
Deconstructing the researcher
Surveillance of the ‘raced’ subject
Deconstructing surveillance regimes
Mindful interrogation
Senator Herron
The authority of a signifier
A yearning
It is not post-colonial
A health science system in the neo-colonial space
Feminist critiques of science and colonialism
Aiming for ‘strong objectivity’

2. Reconstructing gender and ‘race’ relations after the frontier
Into the ‘archives of pain’
Genocide and the collection of ‘specimens’ for the ‘racial’ hierarchy
Just some unconscious finagling?
The fetishism of measurement and the rise of ‘biopolitics’
The dissection of race and gender: The case of Sarah Bartmann
Race and gender; what is the connection?
The arrival of the medical gaze signifying race and sex (gender) in this place
A murderous frontier as western colonial thought moves across the land
The coming of the ‘civilised’: murder, violence, slavery
Rape and abduction
A rationale for genocide: ideas of miscegenation and eugenics
Profound surveillance and the finalising of policies of control

3. Consciousness, abjection and the colonised subject
Who ‘cares’?
Defining our health
In the aftermath of the frontier
The simultaneous operations of abjection and subjection
The author in the text: are they speaking to the ‘hunter-gatherer’?
Psychoanalysis and the psyche of the non-European
Psychoanalysis: Subverting but still sustaining the colonial discourse
Psychoanalysts serving colonialism
Subversion: an Indian becomes an analyst
Australia in the 1930s: psychic subjugation
Carl Jung’s incorporation of news from the Australian frontier
More subversion: Franz Fanon dissects French colonialism in Algeria
1950s: Updating the discourse - the ‘dependent’ mind of the colonised
Psychic subjugation through exclusion and self blame
Internal/external critiques: institutionalisation versus politico-ethical action
Why mention the ‘savage’?
Resistance continues

4: Pain as a catalyst for change, for working for change
Background to the interviews with Nunga women
The connection to the Aboriginal Women’s Health and Well-being Forum
Nunga women who work for government
We will not be native informants
Arrogant perception
Under surveillance by everyone
Generalised individual-based frameworks that exclude colonial history
Just who can go there?
Negotiating for cultural safety
What’s valued and what is ‘value’?
Three examples to contextualise the barriers
Partnerships that move past barriers and imposed systems
A partnership on social and emotional wellbeing
Challenging policies from within
Government workers and community controlled services
The Aboriginal Women’s Health and Healing Project, Narrative Therapy and the
Family Well-being Program
It’s not about clinical health service provision

5: ‘Changing the terms of the conversation’ and moving from “a survival mentality to a living mentality”
Recalling and remembering
Displacing western universalism, clinical diagnoses and justice
Subjugating terms
Maintaining the system: usurping the term but not the intent
‘Just’ Therapy: acknowledging the context of colonialism in New Zealand
Narrative Therapy and the Camp Coorong Gathering
Criticisms of the intellectualisation in Narrative Therapy
The ‘unseen’ risks in Narrative Therapy
Challenging the authority/power of the therapist: lessons from New Zealand
The Family Well-Being Program
Institutionalisation: from community to individual focus
The evaluation of the Family Well-Being program
The claim that a counselling approach is ‘Aboriginal’
“... the coloniser looks black”
What would a ‘healing’ approach look like?

6: Borderlands: What is happening there?
The border between the social sciences and the humanities
Caring for land
The language of pain
Government, social science and evidence for policy changes
Changing the terms
Different definitions bring different approaches
An example of a ‘border-crossing’
Borderlands: Places where the coloniality of power is still enacted
Cultural context and ideology
De-contextualisation
The language and ideology of individualism
First Nations and counselling
Western individuality and the act of confession
The ‘archaeology’ of the space in which counselling occurs
Redressing cultural loss
Refusing to surrender
Building partnerships and possibilities
Trauma and burn-out: healing yourself first

7: Land and spirit: Old ways of being
‘Culture’ both defines and maintains health
Incentives, or if not, punishment
Agents of change not objects subjects for further punishment
The determination to recover and restore
The ‘authoritative knowers’ maintain their neo-colonial roles
Remembering the pain suffered by past generations
“What about our men”: the suffering of Aboriginal men
Services that ignore kinship and gender
Aboriginal men and social and emotional wellbeing
Healing and family violence
Developing approaches with community agreement
The “Bell-Huggins debate”

8. Conclusion: Abjection denies a future of shared joys
Negative portrayals ‘earn’ attention
Presenting as the ‘docile body’
Overwhelmed: 15th May 2006
Racist exclusion from a common ‘culture’
We are not “contemporary ancestors’
Commitment to ‘strong objectivity’
The yearning for change and wellbeing
Bibliography

 

Reviews

“The great strength of this work lies in the way that the author structures the argument to show how Indigenous peoples have been marginalized by the artificial separation of the humanities and the sciences and by the separation of theory and practice. The author positions the Indigenous subject in health science research and health science texts and then applies a theoretical model of alterity drawn from transnational cultural studies and feminist studies of the history of the philosophy of science. She argues that a framework that includes the history of race in relation to Indigenous peoples is critical to making even the most radical forms of counselling and therapy relevant for Indigenous people.”

Professor Lyndall Ryan, University of Newcastle

“This is a very important piece of work and the researcher is to be congratulated for what she has achieved. It represents both a personal voyage of discovery and an important contribution to contemporary understanding of Indigenous affairs in Australia and to Indigenous practice in the fields of counselling, community development, policy analysis and theorising.”

Associate Professor David Legge, La Trobe University

 

Theorising Survival: Indigenous Women and Social and Emotional Wellbeing

Published: 2012
ISBN:
978-0-646575-78-0
Pages: 212
Imprint:
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