"I was worried about insulting Indigenous communities with my designs": shifting from fear to recognition to create a meeting place of sovereigns

West, P, Akama, Y and McMillan, M 2016, '"I was worried about insulting Indigenous communities with my designs": shifting from fear to recognition to create a meeting place of sovereigns', in C. Robb, C. Pedersen and R. Haynes (ed.) Proceedings of the 2016 Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools Annual Conference, Brisbane, Australia, 29-30 September 2016, pp. 1-13.


Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: Conference Papers

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Title "I was worried about insulting Indigenous communities with my designs": shifting from fear to recognition to create a meeting place of sovereigns
Author(s) West, P
Akama, Y
McMillan, M
Year 2016
Conference name ACUADS 2016: Adaptation
Conference location Brisbane, Australia
Conference dates 29-30 September 2016
Proceedings title Proceedings of the 2016 Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools Annual Conference
Editor(s) C. Robb, C. Pedersen and R. Haynes
Publisher Australian National University
Place of publication Acton, Australia
Start page 1
End page 13
Total pages 13
Abstract This paper shares learnings from a design studio that addresses the continuing disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in higher education. The radical adaptation required for design education is significant to recognise Indigenous people as sovereign who have never ceded their land, rights or identity. This is a necessary foundation for Indigenous self-determination, to build mutual respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and avoid ignoring and perpetuating colonial legacy. The authors argue that this recognition must be part of the foundational understanding of what it means to be a designer. The paper traverses across complex terrains of sovereignty, cultural identity and consciousness of lawful relations to discuss how design theory, practice and pedagogy can create a meeting place of sovereigns. Insights are shared from the teaching studio that assisted non-Indigenous design students develop their understanding of being in lawful relation with Indigenous nations, specifically the Wiradjuri. Through this, discomfort and transformation were experienced as the students designed with, rather than for, Wiradjuri Nation partners. This partnership, grounded on research in Indigenous Nation Building, was central to the design studio and pedagogy. The students were guided by their involvement in two Wiradjuri-led events, Sovereign Weaving Treaty and Wiradjuri in Melbourne, that connected Wiradjuri to gather, talk, share and connect in cultural renewal. We narrate how the students' understanding grew, and in turn, enabled our own understanding of design pedagogies to evolve through this rich, complex and confronting encounter.
Subjects Design Practice and Management not elsewhere classified
Copyright notice © The Author(s)
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