Aborigines of the Imaginary

Applying Lacan to Aboriginal education

Neil Harrison*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper applies the work of Jacques Lacan, a French psychoanalyst, to decipher the desire of the teacher in Aboriginal education. It argues that the images of Aboriginal people represented in Australian classrooms are effects of the teacher's Imaginary, the Imaginary being one of the three psychoanalytic domains theorised by Lacan over a period of 30 years of teaching. The author questions whether it is possible for teacher education courses to move the student teacher beyond the Imaginary, and beyond the inventions of Aboriginal people that he or she has produced in his or her own mind. A possible way out of this endless cycle of romantic idealism and deficiency is proposed outside the usual approaches to cultural awareness training and professional development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-14
Number of pages10
JournalAsia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012

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