Habitus clivé and the Aboriginal Experience: Edgar A. Burns, Julie Andrews, Claire James, ‘Bourdieu Might Understand: Indigenous Habitus Clivé in the Australian Academy, British Journal of Educational Studies, 2022


Abstract: Bourdieu’s concept of habitus clivé illuminates Indigenous Australians’ experiences in tertiary environments for both Aboriginal students and Aboriginal staff. Habitus formed through family, schooling and social class is also shaped by urban, regional or rural upbringing, creating a durable sense of self. Aboriginal people in Australia live in all of these places, often in marginalised circumstances. Bourdieu’s more specific concept of habitus clivé, or divided self, is less well known than habitus, but offers value in giving expression to Indigenous people’s experiences within a dominant White society. The complexity of participation and educational change is explored here through the experiences of three authors’ intersecting positionalities within the Australian academy. Developing more nuanced scholarly language reduces the imposition of perspectives that see Indigenous people as objects within western frameworks. Scholarly understanding and respect for Australia’s first peoples’ concepts and cultural practices would engage more appropriately and fairly with Aboriginal knowledge and society. Habitus clivé chronicles one version of habitus that can be changed or be reconfirmed but not easily or by fiat. Understanding the concept can be learned, however. Educational opportunity, glorified in today’s higher education, means little for Aboriginal people without long-term strategies addressing existentially and culturally split habitus.

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