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The Australian National University

Plugged in: Remote Australian Indigenous Youth and Digital Culture

Working Paper 69 / 2010



For most Indigenous people in central and northern Australia the encounter with the western world has been relatively recent. Yet even in the most remote Indigenous communities, global influences pervade everyday life and new forms of media and communications are reshaping youth culture. This paper draws on ethnographic case study data from research with Indigenous youth who are participating in non-formal community-based media and music production and digital community archiving projects in remote regions. For these young adults the generational shift has been rapid, as many of their elders once lived a pre-contact nomadic existence. Now they are firmly part of global youth culture, taking on the role of mediating between old cultural knowledge and new digital technologies. Such generationally differentiated arenas of social practice are also changing the ways in which youth in remote Indigenous Australia are using oral and written language.

Keywords: Indigenous youth, media, technology, Indigenous education, multi-modal literacies, lifespan learning