Working Paper

Exploring and Researching the Indigenous Life Course

Published: 2022

Non-technical summary

Research on Indigenous experiences is limited for a range of reasons. First many scholars compare Indigenous lives with non-Indigenous populations which always leads to conclusions that Indigeneity is a disadvantage. This ignores the perspectives of Indigenous peoples and assumes that Western standards are the ideal. Second we have very limited data on Indigenous peoples and what we do have ignores the wide variations in culture, customs, language and experiences within Indigenous populations. Third, life course approaches tend to preference a linear, standard life course view that does not apply to many Indigenous people’s lives. This paper explains these issues and argues for a new approach that theorises Indigenous life courses as circular. It suggests the concept of lifeworld to explain the deep embedded nature of Indigenous experience in history and culture. And argues for the collection of new data that is relevant to Indigenous people.


Maggie Walter

Partner Organisations


Walter, M. (2022). ‘Exploring and Researching the Indigenous Life Course’, Life Course Centre Working Paper Series, 2022-22. Institute for Social Science Research, The University of Queensland.