Talk, Text and Technology Literacy and Social Practice in a Remote Indigenous Community Author: Inge Kral

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26 Jul 2012
Critical Language and Literacy Studies
Multilingual Matters
210 x 148


Talk, Text and Technology is an ethnographic exploration of language, learning and literacy in remote Indigenous Australia. This unique work traces the historical transformation of one Indigenous group across four generations. The manner in which each generation adopts, adapts and incorporates new innovations and technologies into social practice and cultural processes is illuminated - from first mission contact and the introduction of literacy in the 1930s to youth media practices today. This book examines social, cultural and linguistic practices and addresses the implications for language and literacy socialisation.


Kral claims in her book to try to 'counter sweeping generalisations about youth, social practices, the development of literacy and the cultural and historical production of literate identities in one remote Aboriginal setting'. She does this very well. Her work has implications for how we think about literacy, literate subjects, literacy as social and cultural practice and change. It is a timely book and, in an environment saturated with deficit conceptualisations and simplistic reading of literacy, it is an uplifting and important read.

- Fine Print, a journal of adult English language and literacy education, vol: 37 #3 - Pauline O'Maley, Victoria University, Australia

An absolutely rare study of how technologies have become integrated into the lifeways of youth. The stunning detail, rich history, and keenly etched personalities make this volume a thought-provoking read. This book should be at the top of the list of anyone interested in youth, literacy, and the blend of old and new in cultures around the world.

- Shirley Brice Heath, Stanford University, USA

What is literacy for, if it does not bring better material conditions, more opportunities for meaningful work? From inscribing stories in sand to inscribing birthday cakes, from Bible translation to bilingual education, from early morning speeches in camp to formal open letters, a rich and immensely readable description of Ngaanyatjarra reading, writing and image-making practices emerges from this book. Kral shows how literacy has evolved in these remote Western Australian communities since the 1930s, based on a large corpus of interviews, letters, literacy assessments and school population data. She concludes with glimpses of young Ngaanyatjarra learning skills in informal settings, through filming, art and computer work. The book is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the ambivalence of Indigenous Australians towards formal education.

- Jane Simpson, The Australian National University, Australia

Author Biography:

Inge Kral is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at The Australian National University. Her work as an educator and researcher in Indigenous Australia for nearly three decades has ranged across literacy, applied linguistics, anthropology and new media.

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional, Undergraduate

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