Governing the Good Teacher: A white governmentality lens on the 'white' teacher in South Australia's APY Lands

Author: Samantha Jo Schulz

Schulz, Samantha Jo, 2013 Governing the Good Teacher: A white governmentality lens on the 'white' teacher in South Australia's APY Lands, Flinders University, School of Education

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Abstract

This thesis is a qualitative examination of race relations in contemporary Australia. It specifies these dynamics by exploring the dispositions of 'white' teachers - meaning those of predominantly Anglo heritage - to their work in South Australia's Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands. The APY is a remote site where contests over cultural authority, ownership of land and governance of education have historically played out. Anangu is the name the Indigenous people of the region use in self-reference, and Anangu Education is a system that is regulated by Anangu and whites. It is within this context of dual educational governance that this thesis asks, what does it mean to be a good 'white' teacher? The 'white' teacher of Anangu students is positioned at the nexus between the desires and worldview of Anangu, and the dictates and dominant epistemology of the state. The central research question locates the teacher within these relations, and is considered through life history interviews with white teachers who were living in the APY at the time of interview. By asking what it means to be a good white teacher the thesis creates a context for considering: the 'cultural baggage' of white teachers; how growing up 'white' in White Australia has shaped them; and how the teacher subsequently draws upon racialised discursive resources in order to construct, and reconstruct, a good white teacherly identity. The research is therefore situated in a number of key contexts that together provide a space for analysis. The broadest of these is the White Nation, which influences the more specific sites of Indigenous and Anangu Education, as well as the individual white teacher's life. White governmentality is the conceptual frame for considering these relations. This framework brings together the concepts of whiteness and governmentality to create a lens for tracing racialised power. This includes the more patent ways in which we are governed, as well as governance in covert forms as vested in a range of naturalised beliefs and practices. The latter are mostly invisible to white people and therefore not experienced as acts of racialised domination. As a lens for interpreting the full range of research materials, white governmentality is therefore useful for bringing these hidden processes to light. The first half of the thesis establishes the social, political and historical context of Anangu Education, while the second half utilises this framework to locate the white teacher in contemporary relations. I establish the subject position of the 'white' teacher and argue that s/he may adopt a range of stances that work to reproduce, or resist, racialised domination. I argue that previous research into Anangu Education has insufficiently critiqued the historical record, failing to inform our pedagogical efforts today. I also argue that colonial continuities often characterise the dispositions of today's white teachers, unintentionally buttressing the foundations of white race privilege. This thesis therefore provides a critical contribution to the field by highlighting the everyday means by which white domination is reproduced.

Keywords: white teacher,whiteness,white governmentality,Indigenous education,Australia
Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2013
School: School of Education
Supervisor: Dr Ben Wadham