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Signposts that helped a white activist find her way as a critical ally.

Carnes, R. (2011) Signposts that helped a white activist find her way as a critical ally. In: Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association and Indigenous Studies Research Network Joint Conference: Directions and Intersections, 7 - 9 December 2011, Surfers Paradise, QLD

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As a white researcher setting out on a research journey with Indigenous people, how could I deal with the paradox of being part of the problem I was seeking to address? Awareness of, and desire to minimise, the impact of my white privilege would not automatically cancel it out. Activist researchers who have challenged powerful systems have a history of being condemned and ostracised by colonial centres of power. Would it be my fate to be condemned by the colonial centre of power in which I found myself; the academy? Would I also be condemned by those not in positions of power? What signposts could show me how to act, what to do and how to undertake the research journey?

This paper outlines the intersecting theories I melded together to use as a map for a critical activist ally standpoint when conducting research in Indigenous Prisoner Education in Western Australia. Drawing on theories of whiteness, power, critical pedagogy, activism and standpoint theory, I attempt to navigate a direction that allows for the struggle, uncertainties and paradoxes that are what it means to work critically as an allied activist. I explore some of the challenges I face as a critical, activist ally who is exploring Indigenous education in Western Australian prisons. I invite audience discussion, feedback and reflection on these challenges.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Copyright: 2011 The Author
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