Inclusion/exclusion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students: Understanding how ‘We’ matters

Catherine M. Demosthenous

Abstract


The inclusion of Indigenous people in universities is an important policy issue, as evidenced by the Review of Higher Education and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which is currently underway. While the Review aims to collectively address access and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in universities to ensure parity in the sector, a key contributor to those outcomes is that of participation. This article examines a focus group interaction in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are yarning about their experiences of participating in university life, using Ethnomethodology (EM) and its analytic methods. Premised on the understanding that language is action, the study examines the students’ use of personal pronouns and particularly the first person pronoun ‘we’, using the inclusive/exclusive distinction. Applying this pronominal system here provides insights into the notion of inclusion/exclusion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Australian higher education, and for understanding how ‘we’ matter(s) in everyday university life.

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