‘Vaguely familiar’: haunted identities, contested histories, Indigenous futures

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Copyright: Saunders, r e a - Regina M
‘Vaguely Familiar’: haunted identities, contested histories, Indigenous futures is a practice-led PhD consisting of three creative works and a written thesis, which is intended as a contribution to Australian Indigenous new media theory and practice; a text written ‘by and for’ Aboriginal artists, not just ‘about’ us, following the eminent Aboriginal academic and activist Marcia Langton. My practice-led research develops a methodology of decolonisation which un-stories dominant colonial frameworks and re-Indigenises a critical capacity for creative work. Through responding to personal memory and a politics of resistance, this PhD re-examines identity politics, gender, sexuality and the performance of Aboriginality. My thesis follows a journey across the development of three experimental art works, from re-imaging the colonial archive, to the practice of Indigenous research protocols, to learning to listen to country. My art and my writing draw upon an intimate personal history that is always colliding with colonial history. In each of the three works, I explore points of collision through the collective mediums of photography, soundscape, moving image and sensorial experience. The thesis is written through a critical and creative combination of personal narrative, biography, oral history and deep Indigenous listening, as well as more formal critical analysis. I prioritise Indigenous-derived academic perspectives and methodologies as well as feminist and queer theorists, in order to develop new ways to speak and write from our/my own cultural standpoints and experiences. My methodology aims to Indigenise research through digital media practice: to revitalise our knowledges and practices, to attend to marginalised and dismissed aspects of what counts as knowledge and to produce complex and transformative decolonial forms of knowledge. Broadly speaking, my work aims to reframe research as decolonisation and Indigenisation. An arts-based platform becomes one through which I can claim a space of sovereignty over my own body, in order for me/us to write our own stories. Through this methodology, I provide testimony and bear witness to my research process, as a journey and a discovery of myself that is specific to my identity as a Gamilaraay, Wailwan and Biripi Indigenous new media artist.
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Saunders, r e a - Regina M
Biddle, Jennifer
Velonaki, Mari
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PhD Doctorate
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