Narrating the accumulation of dispossession: Stories of Aboriginal Elders


The lifeworld’s of Aboriginal people and relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Australia continue to bear the scars of a colonial past and present. Liberation oriented approaches within psychology have emphasised the role of storytelling and the recovery of historical memory in affirming identity and belonging but also for disrupting wilful ignorance of a history of dispossession in order to transform relationships. In this paper we draw on stories shared as part of an oral history based project and in conversational interviews, to explore the ways in which Aboriginal people have understood oppression in their lives, past and present. Following data analyses, three community narratives were identified that collectively narrated the history, legacy, and continuity of colonial dispossession. These stories are important in showing up the circuits and consequences of dispossession and privilege and can be mobilised to challenge dominant cultural narratives that construct Aboriginal people as needing to move on. As the recovery of historical memory, these symbolic resources also serve to strengthen identity and belonging within Aboriginal communities, thus disrupting the internalisation of oppression.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i24212113v2i2p79

Keywords: storytelling; oppression; praxis; Aboriginal; symbolic violence


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