Despite the emergence of decolonizing methods for the conduct of research involving Indigenous peoples since the 1990s, the field of Australian Indigenous studies remains characterized by the “spatial distance” that exists between professional academic researchers and the Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders over whom they claim knowledge, understanding, and “expertise.” This paper, written primarily as an opinion piece, describes what transpired when I decided to seek a deeper engagement with the Aboriginal community that is the focus of my research activity. Moving from southeastern Australia to the regional center of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, this paper documents my efforts to close the spatial distance between researcher and researched through a series of vignettes. As the material outlined in the vignettes suggests, efforts to address the spatial distance proved only partially effective. Yet what emerged from this attempt was an ongoing engagement with inland remote Australia and a greatly enhanced understanding of the complex race relations between the Anangu (Aboriginal) peoples of the region and the non-Aboriginal population, as well as of the legacy of colonialism and the lingering impact the past continues to exert on the present.

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