Working together: a story-based approach

LCJ 26 cover

Leonie Norrington & Jangu Nundhirribulla

LCJ: Special Issue:

Collaborative knowledge work in northern Australia, 26, pp. 34-38

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Norrington, L., & Nundhirribulla, J. (2020). Working together: a story-based approach. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts [Special Issue: Collaborative knowledge work in northern Australia], 26, 34-38.



Increasingly research in North Australia involves generative collaborations between researchers and Aboriginal elders, landowners and knowledge authorities; collaborations that bring people together from multiple and multi-faceted epistemic worlds. My research is located in this space. I am writing a historical novel set in Arnhem Land in the 1600s, before the colonial intrusion. The Traditional Owners of the lands where the story is set are supervising the novel. The historical novel form and the English language of articulation are firmly embedded in a Western world, while the characters, plot and zeitgeist are from the pre-colonial Wubuy-speaking world. Lingering in the dynamic interface between the Wubuy and English-speaking worlds, a place where language and logic grapple to make meaning, and articulate concepts, this article tells the story of a moment of epistemic disconcertment and how working through that disconcertment manifested itself in my research and the writing of the novel. I draw on Helen Verran’s proposition that researchers cultivate epistemic disconcertment, and Serres’ notion that learning happens when the researcher lingers in the turbulent middle between cultures where all references are equally distant.


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