31st December 2019

Atalanta’s adventures in research part 1

By anatalantos

By Atalanta Lloyd-Haynes


I gratefully acknowledge and pay my respect to Country, Elders (present, past and emerging) and the Gnibi Wandarahn learning community who support and guide my learning journey.

So I am on the ‘home stretch’ with my Bachelor of Indigenous Knowledge studies. This means that between now and when I graduate / take on the honours year in 2021, I have two independent research projects to complete. I am currently tackling the first one in my major of Cultural Studies. I have chosen to explore “Colonial scarification and cultural violence’. This is an interesting prospect, and there are some challenges when undertaking Cultural studies research through an Indigenous Knowledges lens.

The feedback I received from my supervisor for my project proposal and annotated bibliography was very encouraging, though I will need to be extremely explicit in both my report and the final project in ‘justifying’ indigenous knowledge production processes to show they do not breach university ethics rules around human subject research. I will enjoy writing those paragraphs in I am sure.

Further posts will be reflective of the process I am working through, the progress report (due early January 2020) and the final project submission (mid February 2020). Hope you enjoy my adventures in Indigenous scholarship within the borderland of western academia.


Colonial Scarification and Cultural Violence

Student: Atalanta Lloyd-Haynes (©2019 Atalanta Lloyd-Haynes), Supervisor: Dr Leticia Anderson, SOY10114-2019-3 Independent Project  Assessment 2: Project Proposal

This independent research project is a preliminary inquiry into the depth and persistence of cultural violence (Galtung, 1990; Alvarez, 2019) perpetrated through Australian heritage and environmental legislation, policies and practices. The project is a development of the concept of ‘colonial scarification’ raised in my presentation assessment task in the Borderlands: Identity, culture and belonging unit (session 2, 2019). The project aims to explore how a multi-logical perspective of the ‘colonial scarification’ of Country may further understanding of the multidimensional cultural violence of coloniality.

Following a track marked by Irene Watson (2007), I have many questions. Why is it such a challenge to alter heritage management legislation in NSW? Why is colonial heritage still more valued than Aboriginal cultural heritage and histories (both pre-colonial and post-invasion) and who benefits from this? Who benefits from current legislation that allows for ‘state-sanctioned destruction’? What part do ‘experts’ in archaeology and anthropology play in obscuring the importance of Cultural landscapes, allowing for fragmentation and destruction of those landscapes through unfettered development? Arriving at definite answers to these and other questions falls outside the scope of this project. Realistically, resolutions and actions may only come from ‘very big yarns’ where we all listen to Country and each other to develop greater shared meanings and understandings (Watson 2007, p.15). Therefore, I am framing this project as an exercise in understanding and making visible the problematic characteristics of nation-state policy and practice that have suppressed, hidden, erased and overwritten local stories of place (Bhambra, 2014; Kincheloe & Steinberg, 2008), leaving indelible physical, spiritual and emotional scars.

Given time and ethical restraints, I am taking an autoethnographic approach that positions myself firstly as a Woman in relationship with Country, to examine how this relationship is constrained by the assumed sovereignty of the nation-state. This positioning offers a foundation for considering the potential of Indigenous Knowledge systems to transform how we can respectfully communicate and collaborate across difference. The research process involves conducting field trips in my local area, including heritage sites listed in local and NSW State government registers. I will consider this ‘base data’, consisting of photographs, and post-field trip reflective journaling and mapping, through the lenses of Indigenous critical historiography (Kincheloe & Steinberg, 2008, p.146) and cultural studies concepts including border thinking (Grosfoguel, 2015), hybridity (Loomba, 2015; Young, 1995) and de-colonial theory (Bhambra, 2014).

Indigenous knowledge frameworks and principles (Watson, 2014; Yunkaporta, 2019) ground my engagement with cultural studies theories to promote respectful, rigorous and credible cross-cultural research. Within an Indigenous paradigm, knowledge production is a collective and communal activity. Therefore, seeking counsel with Elders and teachers is a legitimate and necessary part of the research process as a practice of ‘cultural humility’ to clarify and test my thinking (Yunkaporta, 2019, p.98), rather than as ‘informants’ or sources of data requiring ethics committee clearance.

Through reflecting on cultural studies scholarship regarding the intersections of epistemic, structural, physical and systemic violence (Álvarez, 2019), I seek to make visible and legible how these are in fact inter-related manifestations of cultural violence (Galtung, 1990). The project findings will be presented as a reflective scholarly essay including images and mapping of the local area. This will serve as groundwork for further inquiry to address questions of how we may extend beyond aspirational rhetoric to enact more respectful ways of living together in Country.


Annotated Bibliography

Álvarez, M. J. L. (2019). ‘Unearthing and re-Earthing the unseen’: Power as reciprocity. the building of a boundary object (BSocSc Hons. thesis). Southern Cross University, unpublished

This Cultural Studies honours thesis provides a detailed discussion of ‘power as dominance’ as a key theme of Cultural Studies scholarship, and a sensitive and respectful consideration of Indigenous Knowledge conceptions of ‘power as reciprocity’. The discussion of the intersections of structural, physical and cultural violence prompt thoughts about the continuing ‘logic of elimination’ (Wolfe, 2016) apparent in nation-state policy and practice. Álvarez’s work offers encouragement to synthesise ideas and create dynamic cross-cultural pathways to shared understandings between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and knowledge systems.  

Bhambra, G. K. (2014). Postcolonial and Decolonial Reconstructions. In Connected Sociologies (pp. 117-140): Bloomsbury Academic (online). Retrieved from http://www.bloomsburycollections.com/book/connected-sociologies/ch6-postcolonial-and-decolonial-reconstructions

This source offers a solid background of decolonial and postcolonial theory, providing a foundation for clarifying how difference is best understood as the ‘co-presence and articulation of diverse historical logics’ (Quijano, 2007, in Bhambra, 2014, p.130). Further, Bhambra emphasises the importance of considering the broad intersectionalities of colonialism when undertaking decolonial scholarship.

Cotter, M. M., Boyd, W. E., & Gardiner, J. E. (2001). Heritage landscapes: understanding place and communities. Lismore, N.S.W: Southern Cross University Press.

This edited book is a collection of case studies and reflections arising from presentations at the Heritage Landscapes: Understanding Place and Communities conference held in Lismore NSW in 1999 (Cotter, Boyd & Gardiner, 2001, p.v).  The collection explores the physical, cultural and conceptual multiplicities of ‘landscape’ (Country). Relevant to this project are several essays highlighting the complexities and ambiguities of conducting ‘desktop studies’ and ‘site’ field work. The collection makes explicit that our personal histories (subjectivities and positioning) feed into a communal cultural history (ibid, p.1). The collection is a useful point of reference to engage with any shifts, movements and processes regarding heritage management in the past two decades.

Fox, I. (2003). An Aboriginal heritage study of a traditional pathway: linking coastal and upland resources, Northern New South Wales (BAppSc Hons. thesis). Southern Cross University, Lismore, N.S.W., Australia

This thesis is useful to the project as Fox raises questions around history-making, memorialisation and the fragmentation of cultural landscapes. Fox also highlights how contemporary ‘protection’ can lead to further scarification whereby ‘protected sites’ are left to decay or become overgrown, and subject to inadvertent or intentional destruction. Fox’s work emphasises the importance of working with Indigenous knowledge-holders and communities when mapping cultural landscapes to protect cultural heritage and revive Indigenous knowledges.  

Galtung, J. (1990). Cultural Violence. Journal of Peace Research, 27(3), 291-305. doi:10.1177/0022343390027003005

Galtung’s complex, detailed discussion of cultural violence is integral to understanding how ‘colonial scarification’ is a deep and abiding cultural violence perpetrated on Country and Indigenous peoples. The work requires further critical reading and reflection to make best use of the concepts presented.

Grosfoguel, R. (2015). Decolonising post-colonial studies and paradigms of political economy: Transmodernity, border thinking, and global coloniality. Nous, 1(1), 1-37.

This essay is drawn from the ‘Borderlands’ unit readings, presenting and critiquing a wide range of cultural studies concepts and theories. Although written in extremely complex academic language, Grosfoguel’s reflections on the entanglements and violence of global coloniality will assist me to better integrate base data and multiple theoretical frameworks.

Kabaila, P. R. (2005). High country footprints: Aboriginal pathways and movement in the high country of southeastern Australia, recognising the ancient paths beside modern highways. Canberra: Pirion Publishing.

This book is a useful example of an extensive regional heritage study, supporting Indigenous communities’ assertions of the existence and importance connected cultural landscapes. The highlighted problematics of ‘heritage vandalism in the name of heritage management’ (Kambaila p.74) gives some direction when I come to evaluate the base data. Kabaila provides examples of cartographic mapping and corresponding cultural mapping of pathways and connected sites, a helpful reference when presenting the findings of this project.

Kincheloe, J.L. & Steinberg, S.R. (2008). Indigenous knowledges in education: Complexities, dangers and profound benefits. In Denzin, N. K., Lincoln, Y. S., & Smith, L. T. (Eds.). (2008). Handbook of critical and indigenous methodologies. Los Angeles: Sage. 135-156.

This essay provides a justification for taking a standpoint of ‘critical multilogicality’ and use of critical historiography to disrupt the myth-making inherent in (neo) colonial histories (Kincheloe & Steinberg, 2008, p.146). The authors emphasise that critical engagement with ‘dangerous’ memories opens a space for identities and interactions other than those that are officially prescribed (2008, p.146).

Loomba, A. (2015). Hybridity. In Colonialism/Postcolonialism (3rd ed). pp. 171-180. New York: Routledge.

This reference gives a detailed and nuanced explanation of ‘hybridity’ which is helpful when exploring my positioning. Further, Loomba’s work is useful when exploring how the nation-state deploys ‘hybridity’ to control, contain and shape Country and Country’s inhabitants to meet economic development agendas.

Moylan, B. (2019, May 24). Decolonising Historical Maps [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.nla.gov.au/stories/blog/behind-the-scenes/2019/05/24/decolonising-historical-maps

This National Library of Australia blog post details the usefulness of historical maps and planning documents in researching cultural landscapes. Consideration of contemporary ‘land exclusion’ zones and ‘archaeological sites’ listed in local environment planning documents gives an indication of shared histories and changes in land usage over time. Further, historical cadastral maps may be used to illuminate the layering of history, erasures, overwriting and retentions hidden in plain sight when moving through Country.

Neale, T., McKinnon, C., & Vincent, E. (Eds.). (2014). History, power, text: cultural studies and Indigenous studies. Broadway, New South Wales: UTS ePress.

This edited book is an extremely useful source, offering discussions on the intersections of cultural studies and Indigenous studies and how the application of Indigenous knowledges works to stretch cultural studies theoretical frameworks. Several essays included in this anthology are pertinent to the project topic and will assist in unpacking the base data.  

Rhodes, J. (2018). Cage of ghosts. N.S.W: Darkwood.

This book by local photographer Jon Rhodes is an extensive examination of the partial protection of a number of cultural landscapes. Whilst the work is largely descriptive with little in the way of critique, it is a powerful example of the fragmented and arbitrary ‘conservation’ of material traces of pre-colonial cultural landscapes and ensuing colonial scarification of Country. Rhodes illuminates the ongoing cultural violence perpetrated by competing (neo)colonial desires for development (exploitation of resources), and fetish for pre-colonial cultural materials separated from the culture that produced them.

Sheehan, N., Dunleavy, J., Cohen, T., & Dean, M. (2010). Denatured Spirit: Neo-Colonial Social Design. In G. Martin, D. Houston, P. McLaren, & J. Suoranta (Eds.), The havoc of capitalism: publics, pedagogies and environmental crisis (Vol. Bold visions in educational research, pp. 99-116). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.

This article is useful as it provides a solid grounding in how to understand the prevailing neo-colonial pedagogy in Australia that regulates all peoples and land usage. The article also provides insight into the transformative potential of Indigenous Knowledge pedagogies to develop positional awareness and open a space for the uncomfortable conversations that are required for the emancipation of Country and communities.  

Watson, I. (2007). Settled and unsettled spaces: Are we free to roam? In Moreton-Robinson, A. (Ed.). (2007). Sovereign subjects: indigenous sovereignty matters. Crows Nest, N.S.W: Allen & Unwin.

This scholarly reflection by Nunga scholar Irene Watson highlights the challenges presented by regimes of state power dictating the terms of engagement with Country and Indigenous knowledges. The essay draws attention to the unabated appropriation of ‘public lands’ for development purposes (Watson, 2007, p.28) and a brief critique of ‘objectivity’ (ibid, p.27) that encourages a re-reading of Fanon (1967) and Sardar (1998) in my exploration of cultural violence.

Watson, I. (2014). Re-Centring First Nations Knowledge and Places in a Terra Nullius Space. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 10(5), 508-520.

This well-referenced, legal and philosophical reflection by Irene Watson is a valuable source for contextualising and framing my project. Watson’s offers a critical review of the historical (and ongoing) marginalised positioning of Indigenous peoples’ Law, philosophy and knowledges in Australia, and globally. Further, the essay includes an extended synthesis of the epistemic violence imposed on Indigenous peoples and lands by application of ‘universal truths’ in knowledge production and social organisation (Watson, 2014, p.513-514).

Yunkaporta, T. (2019). Sand talk: how Indigenous thinking can save the world. Melbourne, Victoria: Text Publishing.

Overall, this work by a highly respected Indigenous scholar and educator affirms my developing practice as an Indigenous scholar. Yunkaporta highlights the importance of Indigenous critical historiography as a way of closely examining the history of ‘western civilisation’ and the necessity to undertake examination of the narratives of the ‘occupying culture’ and challenge these stories with counter-narratives (Yunkaporta, 2008, p.133). Yunkaporta emphasises the importance of ‘cultural humility’ for Indigenous scholars, and the liberation that comes from recognising my place / role / status as a ‘single node in a co-operative network (ibid, p.98). 


Further Sources

  • Birch, T. (2005). ‘Death is forgotten in victory’: colonial landscapes and narratives of emptiness. In J. Lyndon & T. Ireland (Eds.), Object lessons: archaeology and heritage in Australia (pp. 186-200): Australian Scholarly Publishing. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/11343/34560
  • Birch, T. (2018). Recovering a narrative of place: Stories in the time of climate change. Griffith Review, (60), 207-214. Retrieved from https://griffithreview.com/articles/recovering-narrative-place-stories-climate-change-tony-birch/
  • English, A. (2002). The sea and the rock gives us a feed: mapping and managing Gumbaingirr wild resource use places. Hurstville, N.S.W.: New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.
  • Fache, E. (2014). Caring for Country, a Form of Bureaucratic Participation. Conservation, Development, and Neoliberalism in Indigenous Australia. Anthropological Forum, 24(3), 267-286.
  • Fanon, F. (1967). The wretched of the earth. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
  • Goldberg, D. (1993). Racist culture: philosophy and the politics of meaning. Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell.
  • Graham, M. (1999). Some thoughts about the philosophical underpinnings of Aboriginal worldviews. Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture & Ecology, 3(2), 105-118.
  • Graham, M. (2009). Understanding Human Agency in Terms of Place: A Proposed Aboriginal Research Methodology. PAN: Philosophy Activism Nature, (6), 71-78.
  • Graham, M. (2014). Aboriginal notions of relationality and positionalism: a reply to Weber. Global Discourse, 4(1), 17-22. doi:10.1080/23269995.2014.895931
  • Guilfoyle, D. (2006). Aboriginal cultural heritage regional studies: an illustrative approach: Department of Environment and Conservation.
  • Hodgkinson, C. (1845). Australia, from Port Macquarie to Moreton Bay: with descriptions of the natives, their manners and customs, the geology, natural productions, fertility, and resources of that region; first explored and surveyed by order of the colonial government. London: T. and W. Boone.
  • Hoskins, I. (2013). Coast: a history of the NSW edge. Sydney, N.S.W: NewSouth Publishing.
  • Howitt, A. W. (1904). The Native Tribes of South-East Australia. London: Macmillan.
  • Hunt, J., & Ellsmore, S. (2016). Navigating a path through delays and destruction: Aboriginal cultural heritage protection in New South Wales using native title and land rights. In P. F. McGrath (Ed.), The Right to Protect Sites: Indigenous Heritage Management in the Era of Native Title (pp. 77-110). Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.
  • Ireland, T. (2002). An artefact of nation: historical archaeology, heritage and nationalism in Australia (PhD thesis). University of Sydney. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/4678981/An_artefact_of_nation_historical_archaeology_heritage_and_nationalism_in_Australia?email_work_card=interaction_paper
  • Kearney, A. (2017). Violence in place, cultural and environmental wounding. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
  • Kijas, J. (2005). Revival, renewal & return: Ray Kelly & the NSW Sites of Significance Survey. Hurstville, N.S.W.: Dept. of Environment and Conservation NSW.
  • Kovach, M. (2009). Indigenous methodologies: characteristics, conversations and contexts. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • McCoy, K., Tuck, E., & McKenzie, M. (Eds.). (2016). Land education: rethinking pedagogies of place from Indigenous, postcolonial, and decolonizing perspectives. London: Routledge.
  • Ryan, I., & McDermott, J. J. (2016). Edict come, edict go: a critique of legislative approaches to the definition and conservation of Aboriginal heritage sites in Australia. Journal of the Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists: Special Supplement, 4, 8-19.
  • McGrath, P. F. (Ed.). (2016). The Right to Protect Sites: Indigenous Heritage Management in the Era of Native Title. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.
  • Organ, M. K. (1994). A conspiracy of silence-the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Sites. Aboriginal Law Bulletin, 3 ALB 67, 4-7.
  • Pascoe, B. (2018). Dark emu: Aboriginal Australia and the birth of agriculture. Broome, Western Australia: Magabala Books Aboriginal Corporation.
  • Pegum, S. & Pegum, M. (2010). Crossing the bar: a history of the Urunga Pilot Station. Urunga, N.S.W: Pilot House Books.
  • Roberts, J. (1981). Massacres to mining: the colonisation of Aboriginal Australia (Australian updated ed.). Melbourne: Dove Communications.
  • Ryan, J. S. (1964). The land of Ulitarra: early records of the Aborigines of the mid-north coast of New South Wales. Armidale, N.S.W: University of New England.
  • Sardar, Z. (1998). Postmodernism and the other: New imperialism of western culture. London: Pluto Press.
  • Somervillle, M. & Perkins, T. (2010). Singing the Coast Place and Identity in Australia. Retrieved from https://search-informit-com-au.ezproxy.scu.edu.au/documentSummary;dn=738052972685661;res=IELIND
  • Strakosch, E. R. (2011). Neoliberal Indigenous policy in Australia: government, sovereignty and colonialism (Ph.D. thesis). University of Queensland.
  • Susino, G. (1999). Fitting Pictures and Stories: A Study of Archaeology As A Resource. Australian Archaeology, 49(1), 69-69. doi:10.1080/03122417.1999.11681655
  • Ulm, S., Shnukal, A., & Westcott, C. (2001). An annotated bibliography of theses in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies at the University of Queensland, 1948-2000 (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit Research Report Series 5). Brisbane: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, University of Queensland.
  • Veracini, L. (2007). Historylessness: Australia as a settler colonial collective. Postcolonial Studies, 10(3), 271-285. doi:10.1080/13688790701488155
  • Watson, I. (1999). Raw law: the coming of the Muldarbi and the path to its demise (Ph.D. thesis). University of Adelaide, Adelaide. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2440/21610
  • Watson, I. (2002). Buried alive. Law and Critique, 13(3), 253-269.
  • Watson, I. (2005). Illusionists and Hunters: Being Aboriginal in this occupied space. Australian Feminist Law Journal, 22(1), 15-28. doi:10.1080/13200968.2005.10854336
  • Watson, I. (2012). The future is our past: We once were sovereign and we still are. Indigenous Law Bulletin, 8(3), 12-15.
  • Watson, I. (2015). Aboriginal peoples, colonialism and international law: raw law. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.scu.edu.au
  • Wolfe, P. (2006). Operation sandy track: Michael O’Connor and the war on Australian history. Overland, (183), 26-31.
  • Wolfe, P. (2016). Traces of history: elementary structures of race. London: Verso.
  • Historical Maps
  • Keele, T. W. & Gullick, W. A. & New South Wales Harbours and Rivers Branch. (1898). New South Wales harbours: Bellinger River entrance map
  • John Sands (Firm). (1886). Map of the counties of Gresham, Fitzroy, Raleigh, Dudley, Clarke, Hardinge, Sandon. Retrieved November 20, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-231053402
  • New South Wales Department of Lands. (1917). Map of the County of Raleigh Eastern Division, N.S.W. 1917. Retrieved November 20, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-233872022

Citation: Lloyd-Haynes, A. (2019). Colonial Scarification and Cultural Violence: Independent Project Proposal, Cultural Studies Major, Bachelor of Indigenous Knowledge Studies at the Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples. Committix Pty Ltd, Newcastle. ©2019 Atalanta Lloyd-Haynes. Published 31 December 2019. Available at: https://committix.com/2019/12/31/atalantas-adventures-in-research-part-1/


Atalanta is an intern of the Keewong Research Intern Programme