Telling stories in, through and with Country: Engaging with Indigenous and more-than-human methodologies at Bawaka, NE Australia

Sarah Wright, Kate Lloyd, Sandie Suchet-Pearson, Laklak Lak Burarrwanga, Matalena Tofa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Recent work in ethnographic and qualitative methods highlights the limitations of academic accounts of research interactions that aim for total objectivity and authority. Efforts to move beyond totalizing accounts of both the research experience and the investigator raise questions of how to engage with, make sense of, and (re)present embodied, sensual, visceral, and the ultimately placed qualities of collaborative research interactions. Our response to this set of questions entailed recognizing and respecting the knowledge and agency of the human and nonhuman actors involved in co-producing the research. In this paper, we analyze transcripts, research notes and conversations between non-Indigenous academics, Indigenous researchers, and Bawaka, northern Australia itself to explore storytelling as a collaborative, more-than-human methodology. We argue that in research, storytelling consists of verbal, visual, physical, and sensual elements that inform dynamic and ongoing dialogues between humans (academics/co-researchers/family members), and between humans and nonhumans (animals, water, wind). To move beyond the human/nonhuman binary in our storytelling, we look to Aboriginal Australian concepts of Country in which place is relationally defined and continually co-created by both human and nonhuman agents. Acknowledging and engaging with the embodied, more-than-human nature of research contributes to an enlarged understanding of how knowledge is co-produced, experienced, and storied.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-60
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Cultural Geography
Volume29
Issue number1
Early online date29 Feb 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

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