Presentation on theme: "Session 5: ‘ Culture’ and Indigenous Disadvantage."— Presentation transcript:
Session 5: ‘ Culture’ and Indigenous Disadvantage
Critique exercise What constructions of culture are being used in your example?
Dimensions of critique Null hypothesis: “Culture is what people do” We put boundaries or labels on peoples’ behaviour in various ways that can be deconstructed. Structure and agency Time Morality Authenticity Sameness and difference
Example Smith BMJ 2003 Indigenous culture in harmony with the environment, in opposition to Westerners Death and disease due to “deep spiritual oppression” and cultural subjugation Improved health from cultural restoration, not improved health services Cultural restoration also means control of health services
Four resources Health Promotion Training Manual 1989 Pearson 2000 Trudgen 2000 Diabetic story 2004
Three common constructions of culture Cultural loss Cultural non-adaptation/rigidity Cultural maladaptation
Cultural loss Colonisation has robbed Indigenous people of their culture through loss of land, displacement to large settlements, stolen children and indoctrination with Western values This vacuum of culture is filled with intergenerational grief and depression that lead to social problems Culture is the answers to social problems, by improving self- esteem and identity and restoring social orders where young people respect and obey elders To improve Indigenous health we must encourage the restoration of Indigenous cultures
Cultural non-adaptation/rigidity Indigenous culture is stuck in a pre-colonial time which is no longer appropriate for the modern world Elements that were good (e.g. sharing resources) are now dysfunctional in the modern context (e.g. no accumulation of resources, dependent kinship relationship with government) Culture unable to keep up with the rapid changes brought about by colonisation The converse of this is cultural survival – celebrated by Indigenous people and many non-Indigenous people
Cultural maladaptation/failed acculturation Indigenous culture has had maladaptive responses to colonisation Rather than develop civil society in place of kinship network, Indigenous cultures have taken on the worst of Western culture Thus alcoholism, domestic violence, gambling, petrol sniffing, fast food etc. are the predominant elements of Western society that have been adopted
Where do terms like self-determination, social capital and community capacity fit in here? Which constructions of culture do they use?
Welfare dependency Indigenous people have become dependent on welfare and government programs, and have no ability or desire to become economically independent This is phrased alternatively as ‘having it too easy’, or ‘being inflicted with ongoing colonisation by the government that robs them of self-reliance,’ the latter expressed in confusing phrases like ‘the right to take responsibility’ (Pearson)
Culture as difference/cultural fragility Governments and service providers have not taken heed of the cultural differences of Indigenous people Indigenous people are inherently different from other people by virtue of their culture – if programs are designed in a culturally-appropriate way (timelines, settings, decision-making structures, kinship, family sizes, language, patterns of mobility, cultural safety etc) they will work Otherwise they will inflict additional damage on communities
Universal human rights/ anti-alterity, culture as hobby/recreation The role of culture has been vastly overestimated. Indigenous people want the same as the rest of us – nice house and car, healthy kids, regular income, enjoyable leisure time We need to stop being hamstrung by political correctness and go out there and give people the information & skills they need to live healthy and happy lives If communities are hiding problems like child sexual abuse behind, say, promised marriages, we must help those children Powerful Indigenous people will try to save their skin like anybody else but this is no excuse for allowing wrongs to continue