Invented tradition and how physical education curricula in the Australian Capital Territory has resisted Indigenous mention

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This article reports how ‘invented tradition’ [Hobsbawm, E. (2012), Introduction: Inventing traditions. In E. Hobsbawm & T. Ranger (Eds.), The invention of tradition (pp. 1–14). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press] as a long-term process has contributed to Indigenous students experiencing physical education (PE) within Eurocentric curricula that largely ignores their own culture. The study was undertaken at three high schools within the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) which come under the remit of the ACT Education and Training Directorate. Documentary evidence was the main data source and figurational sociology was used to inform the study and analyse the data. Central to figurational sociology is the notion of the figuration which refers to how individuals are located interdependently in social structures characterised by relationships of power. Historical and contemporary documents were analysed using content and thematic analysis according to the premise that the document writers are themselves included in figurations and their inclusion or presence has to be taken into account [Dolan, P. (2009), Using documents: A figurational approach. In J. Hogan, P. Dolan, & P. Donnelly (Eds.), Approaches to qualitative research: Theory and its practical application (pp. 185–208). Cork: Oak Trees Press]. The paper identifies key events and long-term processes mainly linked to Australia’s colonial past that have shaped contemporary PE curricula. Despite intent within historical PE curricula to include Indigenous perspectives in PE these have largely not translated to actual teaching. The final part of the paper suggests additional research to find ways to embed these perspectives. This is important because current curriculum requirements at a national level emphasise these perspectives.




Williams, J. (2016). Invented tradition and how physical education curricula in the Australian Capital Territory has resisted Indigenous mention. Asia-Pacific Journal of Health, Sport and Physical Education, 7(3), 219–234.

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