"When you're black, they look at you harder" Narrating Aboriginality within Public Health

Bond, Chelsea Joanne (2007). "When you're black, they look at you harder" Narrating Aboriginality within Public Health PhD Thesis, School of Population Health, University of Queensland.

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Author Bond, Chelsea Joanne
Thesis Title "When you're black, they look at you harder" Narrating Aboriginality within Public Health
School, Centre or Institute School of Population Health
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2007
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Leonie Cox
Mark Brough
Gayle Jennaway
Subjects 379902 Aboriginal Studies
Abstract/Summary While there is a clear investment within public health upon race, ethnicity and culture in identifying and explaining health inequalities experienced by those populations who are racially, ethnically and culturally othered, there remains scarce attention given to the meaning of such identities by those who proclaim them. Epidemiological and health behaviourist applications of identity often produce portraits of Aboriginality that convey illness, disease and dysfunction as inherently Aboriginal conditions. The aim of this study was to enable an urban Aboriginal community to articulate their own narratives of Aboriginality beyond those contained within the medical narrative. This study incorporated a Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach, utilising research methods of participant observation, key informant interviews and photo voice. The action phase of the study was informed by a Community Cultural Development (CCD) framework, in which local Indigenous arts workers and organisations collaborated to develop initiatives which simultaneously explored and promoted the cultural identity of this community from a strength-based perspective. The seven key themes that emerged within Aboriginal narratives of identity emphasised Aboriginality as expressions of; (1) stories (2) relationships to people and place (3) difference, (4) marginality, (5) bloodlines (6) pride, and (7) negotiation and interrogation. The common thread throughout each of these, at times, competing narratives is that the proclamation of an Aboriginal identity is a vital resource for living rather than a determinate of premature death, disease and dysfunction. The opportunity to articulate one’s identity narrative was found to be an empowering action in its own right, but it also enabled ‘new truths’ of Aboriginality to emerge that allow strength, survival and health to be very real conditions for Aboriginal people. This study demonstrates the need for a more contextualised understanding and application of the identity concept within public health practices generally and a more rigorous debate and reflection upon the use of ethnic, racial and cultural identity (concepts) particularly within the Australian public health research literature. It also strongly suggests the need to engage with and understand Aboriginality in a way that complements and supports Indigenous constructions of identity, health and well-being rather than compete against them.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (RHD) - UQ staff and students only
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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 15:24:15 EST