Into the borderlands: unruly pedagogy, tactile theory and the decolonising nation

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Garbutt, R, Biermann, S & Offord, B 2012, 'Into the borderlands: unruly pedagogy, tactile theory and the decolonising nation', Critical Arts: South-North Cultural and Media Studies, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 62-81.

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Modern Australia has been defined as an immigrant nation, a settler society that is located in the South and yet is problematically, ontologically and epistemologically oriented towards the North. Australia's colonial experience and trauma – far from being resolved – are characterised by a condition of collective amnesia expressed in social, cultural and psychological boundaries. It is in this landscape that an active and transformative form of cultural studies pedagogy has emerged. This article critically unpacks aspects of this pedagogy through Borderlands, an undergraduate subject that we teach in the Cultural Studies programme at Southern Cross University, and that responds to collective postcolonial amnesia through the antidote of sentient engagement. Using borderland theory (Anzaldua 2007), Borderlands is driven by ethical, transformative imperatives regarding knowledge and responsibility for both student and teacher. Borderlands sets out to redefine cultural studies' pedagogical practice by utilising field trips as a means of epistemological unsettlement and disruption, invoking and engaging with the tangibles of migration, installation, dispossession and displacement. Our article joins students on an excursion into the field, to four specific sites. Through this architecture we argue that Borderlands is an example of an unruly, unsettling cultural studies pedagogy that lends itself to sentient decolonisation.

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