Koori critical storying: re-imagining to re-connect with memories, archives, and Country

  • Wendy Somerville

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis introduces Koori Critical Storying as an approach to the recovery and revitalisation of Koori connection to Country, history and knowledge. The dispossession and displacement of Kooris following colonisation has meant many Kooris have lost the close connection to Country and the affinity with people and community that their ancestors experienced. As a consequence, a fracturing of knowledge and of relationality to Country and people has
occurred. In an effort to help bridge these fissures in knowledge and loss, this thesis develops Koori Critical Storying as a methodological tool that offers possible pathways to re-connection of relationality to Country and people. Storying brings vitality to Koori culture. It is key to the transfer of knowledge and culture from generation to generation. Koori Critical Storying,
through its mobilisation of varied storying registers that underpin diverse modes of wayfinding, empowers Koori research into family in Koori Country through re-storying with Country, archives, memories, and yarning. This new methodological approach is needed to tell the stories of us in our ways grounded in experiential Koori contexts.

This thesis critically examines archival research, and institutional structures that keep stories of us not told by us. These monolithic structures have entrenched Western concepts of First Nations Australians in such places as archives, museums, libraries, and universities. Many of the stories held in those institutions existed only in the imaginations of the authors. In this thesis
the voices of First Nations peoples are privileged and the concepts they have introduced to the world are built on. Decentring colonial stories and histories through focusing on the lived experiences and lives of Kooris is central to this research. Koori Critical Storying represents just one way of introducing decolonisation of knowledge into the academy and other cultural
institutions. In this thesis, I use Koori Critical Storying to tell my story of my search for my ancestors and family and evidence of their/our relationship with Jerrinja Country.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBethaney Turner (Supervisor), Tracy Ireland (Supervisor) & Jennifer Crawford (Supervisor)

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