Affirming Indigenous Knowledge as the social capital of Indigenous Peoples

The School of Social and Political Sciences and the School of Languages and Cultures, in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney, present the Keynote Lecture of Indigenous Knowledges in Latin America and Australia Symposium

Les Malezer
9 December 2011


Over the past decade comprehensive changes in the status of Indigenous Peoples around the world have occurred. While attention focussed upon the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples the commitment to key rights effectively emerged a decade earlier. Consequently parallel developments occurred which extended disclosure of the exploitation of the cultural resources and Traditional Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples. The identity of Indigenous populations as 'Peoples' is a critical cornerstone of survival into the future. Existing and new international legal instruments might be beneficial to protect and promote Indigenous Knowledges, rather than being a threat. However a positive outcome requires sustained effort by Indigenous Peoples around the world. On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, this presentation discusses how Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have greater capacity to take advantage of the legal opportunities and build social capital through Indigenous Knowledges

Les Malezer

Les Malezer is from the Butchulla/Gubbi Gubbi peoples in southeast Queensland. He has extensive experience in campaigning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and has represented community interests at local, state, national and international levels. Les is a former head of the Qld Department of Aboriginal and Islander Affairs and is currently Chairperson of the Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action (FAIRA) and in that role he is a delegate to United Nations forums on Indigenous issues. In 2008 he won the Australian Human Rights Award, and his contribution to coordinating Indigenous Peoples’ advocacy for the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the UN General Assembly is well known and respected.

Les Malezer gave the keynote lecture for the 2011 Indigenous Knowledges in Latin America and Australia: Locating Epistemologies, Difference and Dissent symposium that examined the place of Indigenous Knowledges in Higher Education, and approaches to the same across different cultural contexts. The symposium and planned workshop brought together Indigenous educators and intellectuals from Latin America to Sydney to meet with interested Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander educators, scholars and activists, as well as non-Indigenous practitioners and allies, to discuss different models and approaches of Indigenous Knowledge and Education in the tertiary sector and beyond.