Australian universities are increasingly embedding Indigenous content and perspectives within curriculum to promote Indigenous cultural competency. We present teaching challenges in an Indigenous geography course designed to present an engaged, intercultural learning experience. We critically reflect on student evaluations, informal discussions and observations to complement scholarly debates. Course design and delivery was seen as stimulating and illuminating in terms of course content. While diversity of student cohorts, backgrounds and learning styles remain challenging, the romanticism of some students can override critical engagement with the geographical context of the course material and their positionality. There remains a tendency in both student constructions and the geographical literature to create an Indigenous/non-Indigenous binary that not only essentializes both, but can be culturally unsafe for Indigenous students. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students may share a sense of pessimism in confronting apparently unstoppable development and environmental destruction. We argue for scholarship around the fundamentally intercultural nature of coexistence to contextualize the spatial diversity of Indigenous lives in landscapes, currently obscured by dominant constructions of Indigeneity. Critical reflection on settler educators’ and learners’ positionalities with respect to neocolonial structures will help to transcend both essentialism and pessimism.
Journal of Geography in Higher Education / Vol. 41, No. 2, pp.182-197