Brotherhood and belonging: Creating pedagogic spaces for positive discourses of aboriginal youth

Nayia Cominos, David Caldwell, Katie Gloede

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Representations of Aboriginal youth in Australia are typically characterised by deficit discourses often in relation to normative, Eurocentric educational criteria. They are described as maladapted learners, living in disengaged communities, without identifiable or recognisable literacy or numeracy practices. This chapter argues that through sport Aboriginal youth are demonstrating alternative ways of being and belonging, which avoid facile Western-traditional binary classifications, and that bringing this emerging discourse into the classroom context valorises Aboriginal voices. In a novel pilot study, the on-field language of young Aboriginal players of Australian rules football was recorded and transcribed. Language mapping of the transcripts showed that the students and their coaches developed a cohesive team identity through the consistent use of specific interpersonal tokens of solidarity and leadership. Positive discourse analysis offers a forward-looking, constructive theoretical framework through which the voices, practices and context of Aboriginal youth can be described and valorised, casting them as agents of social change. The chapter proposes an alternative pedagogy which gives students a way into previously inaccessible academic literacies and teaches them how to use those literacies to create counternarratives which inform a sense of belonging in traditional classroom contexts and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationYouth, Place and Theories of Belonging
EditorsSadia Habib, Michael RM Ward
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781351362733, 9780203712412
ISBN (Print) 9781138559622
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameSociological Futures


  • Aboriginal youth
  • Youth policy
  • South Australian Aboriginal Sports Training Academy
  • Aboriginal education


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