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Michael Christie

    Associate Professor Michael Christie, Learning Research Group, Charles Darwin University
Originally from New Zealand, Michael has lived and worked in the NT since 1972 where he was the first teacher linguist at Milingimbi until 1980. Following that he worked at Yirrkala School on two-way curriculum, and at Charles Darwin University, teaching Yolngu languages. The Yolngu studies team at CDU last year won the Prime Ministers award for excellence in tertiary teaching. Michael is now engaged in researching Indigenous knowledge, digital technologies, and remote community capacity.
Awarded the Prime Ministers award for excellent teaching and research. He is currently research and writing about his projects in Indigenous education including "Digital tools and the management of Australian Desert Aboriginal knowledge".

Key websites for his research are: Michael is being sponsored by SiMMER
Title: Natural Enemies: Aboriginal Knowledge Traditions and Digital Technology.

The discourses of difference and deficit, and the psychological, anthropological and political analyses of learning have all informed Aboriginal pedagogy and the practices of Aboriginal education in different ways at different times. With the increasing use of ICT in schools everywhere, questions arise again as to how assumptions underlying the nature, and use of digitising technologies are biased towards western ways of knowing, of producing knowledge, of making and validating truth claims, and of keeping knowledge traditions alive into succeeding generations.

Meanwhile, Aboriginal people everywhere, even in very remote locations are appropriating digital technologies for their own knowledge purposes, both within and outside schools. They are reinventing and reconfiguring computers and allied technologies for their own purposes.

The title of the paper is derived from a reflection on the statement made by Lev Manovich, the media theorist, looking at the database as a cultural form, and contrasting it with an earlier, different and opposing cultural form, the narrative. Manovich argues that the database represents the world as a list of items and it refuses to order this list. In contrast, a narrative creates a cause-and-effect trajectory of seemingly unordered items (events). (So) database and narrative are natural enemies. Competing for the same territory of human culture, each claims an exclusive right to make meaning out of the world.. This position casts light on a fundamental dislocation between how Aboriginal knowledge is routinely made, and how institutions like schools do knowledge work.

Last modified: 5/20/2006
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