Being successful. Becoming successful. An ethnography of Indigenous students at an Australian university
AffiliationSchool of Social and Political Sciences
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is currently not available from this repository
© 2014 Dr. Ekaterina Pechenkina
This thesis, positioned at the disciplinary intersection of cultural anthropology and higher education, investigates the drivers of Indigenous Australian academic success, drawing on participant-observation and interviews with Indigenous students and Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff in a de-identified Australian university ('The University'). Each year The University demonstrates some of the highest Indigenous completion rates nation-wide. This trend applies to The University’s Indigenous students who are already successful and well-prepared for higher education when they start their degrees and those who are not but who eventually learn how to succeed in The University’s high-achieving environment. As The University is shaped by and operates within a system of Western higher education, students who are more equipped to function within this value system (e.g. possess ‘Western’ academic capital) are perceived as more likely to succeed. The students who are not equipped with the ‘right’ kind of capital (or who are perceived as such) are expected to encounter challenges during their academic experiences and require help. While cultural capital is indeed a factor in Indigenous student academic achievement, I demonstrate that The University’s Indigenous students have found a way to overcome such capital-centred issues. In particular, they do it by employing their identities and differences as strengths to persevere academically and in the process create a new form of cultural capital. By reasserting their Indigeneity and resisting what is perceived as Western dominance, Indigenous students shift power away from the agents of mainstream education and internalise this power by becoming academically successful. This identity-based process contributes to the culture of Indigenous academic success that I propose as an explanatory framework for how The University’s Indigenous academic success is generated and maintained.
KeywordsIndigeneity; academic success; student success; cultural capital; higher education
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format" and choose "open with... Endnote".
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format". Login to Refworks, go to References => Import References