Conference season is in full swing. As we go out and learn, share and contribute to our shared knowledge of our chosen fields of endeavour – it is important to think of and include indigenous people of the lands upon which we meet.

Why? Well, whether you believe the lands upon which you meet are stolen, occupied or rightfully taken — acknowledging an indigenous history at minimum shows respect and understanding that there is a past with which we need to work in order to move towards the future. Problems don’t disappear because we ignore them – when we ignore problems, they fester. It is not divisive to apologise or acknowledge past hurts, it is a healing gesture that takes courage and honesty.

So, if you are presenting in a country where the lands were taken from those who once were caretakers, consider researching who those people were and acknowledging them.

This video from the University of South Australia presents a good format for doing so:

2 Comments

  1. I have no wish to be disrespectful. Having said that…

    The last place I presented as in Beijing. This week I am presenting in Tunis. I am aware of the history of both countries. But following your advice would be tricky.

    It would also be rude and I think presumptive to think that I could travel to a nation and impose my understanding of their social, cultural and political reality into their space.

    If there is a necessary recognition of indigenous history and ownership, and if it requires my participation, then it is up to the hosts to organize that, as they did for example when I spoke in New Zealand.

    Otherwise my role as a guest is to be respectful, to refrain from commenting on history, culture and society (aside from saying how beautiful the country is and how welcoming and friendly the people are) and to give my talk on the subject as agreed.

    • Thank you for your thoughts Stephen. Whilst I only present in Australia and New Zealand, I have had indigenous people of Australia let me know they appreciate it when visitors take the time to research the appropriate acknowledgements of indigenous people. Cheers! Kerry

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