To gain insight into what our Indigenous Citizenship and Education project members are working on currently, this latest iteration of the “Updates from the Project,” series features Dr. Sharon Harvey from the Auckland University of Technology (AUT).
Associate Professor Sharon Harvey is the current Head of the School of Language and Culture and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Culture and Society at AUT. Dr. Harvey is an applied linguist and her research interests include, but are not limited to, language education, policy and planning. In the interview, Dr. Harvey discusses her current pursuits and reflects on the international project meeting in Australia this past autumn.
What project(s) are you currently working on within and related to the Indigenous Citizenship and Education project?
I have two projects currently:
The first is looking at language policy borrowing by New Zealand from the Council of Europe. Much of the policy work on language and culture education emanating from the Council of Europe has ‘gone global’. The Framework of Reference for Languages has been adopted and adapted by many countries. This research examines the concept of global language policy with a focus on intercultural competency (ICC) and its particular reception in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In 2007 New Zealand launched a revised national curriculum which included a new learning area called ‘Learning Languages’. This policy move unbundled the learning of subject languages from the learning of English and New Zealand Māori as first languages. The aim was to ensure subject languages were available to all learners in Years 7–10 (equivalent to ages 11-14). A stronger focus on languages brought with it a new requirement for teachers to integrate (inter)cultural teaching with language teaching. The approach was subsequently termed intercultural language teaching (iCLT). While it seems that effective education in ICC can, as a minimum, mitigate against stereotyping and promote linguistic and cultural self-reflection, this work inquires whether such a model can deal satisfactorily with the kinds of historical power imbalances that have resulted in extreme forms of oppression and silencing of indigenous languages and cultures in colonised countries. A related question is whether a language policy emanating from Western Europe can be unproblematically transposed into a context such as Aotearoa without a fundamental refurbishment?
The second project is part of a wider comparative study to examine the discursive construction of indigeneity in national curricula and how this has changed over time. The project also seeks to understand how indigenous discourses mobilise key concepts of nation building and citizenship for those identifying as indigenous and for those who do not.
What do you find rewarding and/or challenging about working with the project?
Working with likeminded colleagues from several different countries who are all concerned and interested in similar issues is a privilege. The ICE project is trying to grapple with questions that are crucial for many countries at this time. These revolve around indigeneity and colonisation/decolonisation particularly with regards education and citizenship. The need for indigenous language revitalisation, the decolonisation of national education systems, appropriate approaches to constructing civil societies characterised by super diversity: these issues are all on the agenda for ICE.
Have you recently collaborated with project members from other countries? If so, how and what did you gain from that experience? (I know many of you met recently in Australia).
I mainly collaborate with Professor Hilde Sollid who is also a linguist. We are both interested in the revitalisation of indigenous languages, the role of indigenous languages in mainstream education and the way indigeneity is mobilised in educational discourses to say things about nationhood, identity and citizenship. Our comparative work with national curricula links in well with research that ICE Education colleagues are undertaking as well.
Our recent two-week meeting at Australian National University (ANU), hosted by colleagues Dr Diane Smith and Dr Bill Fogarty gave the team valuable insight into indigeneity in the Australian context. The meeting involved a Roundtable between ICE members and interested experts at ANU, followed later in the week by a three-day doctoral conference featuring students from the National Centre for Indigenous Studies. The writing retreat at ANU’s Kioloa beach campus with the doctoral students enabled us to work alongside each other and take time for in-depth discussions. A standout experience for the ICE group was the opportunity to venture onto Aboriginal land with an elder who explained how Aboriginal people lived, survived and thrived for such a long period of time in this part of Australia.
Two images from ANU’s Kioloa Campus: “One is of a path leading to the camp, our ‘home’ for the week and the other is of a path leading to the ocean, the vast unknown. Perhaps they are metaphors for the two places we shuttle between in our research, what we already know and feel secure in and what we are seeking to understand…”
– Dr. Harvey