Community engagement is increasingly important in environmental management. While such engagement has tended to comprise only one-way communication, genuine engagement often requires meaningful cross-cultural communication. This paper explores issues surrounding engagement with Australian indigenous communities, suggesting that the construction of the cultural identity of these communities is an important impediment to meaningful social engagement. Drawing on schema theory and the notion of Bhabha’s interstitial space, we argue that environmental management needs to embrace such ideas. Using examples from a study of the non-indigenous construction of Australian Aboriginal identity through a long-established Australian newspaper, we explore implications of non-indigenous construction of Australian Aboriginal identity in environmental management. We argue, thus, that contemporary environmental management needs to encourage a focus on conscious engagement or self-critique of identity statements. This focus would have an emphasis on the constructedness of cultural identity and conscious rejection of the unthinking assumptions they engender.
An exploration of the role of schema theory and the (non-indigenous) construction of indigenous identityEnvironmental Education Research