‘Living Between two Worlds’: Who is Living in Whose Worlds? Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: Indigenous people have often been depicted as 'living between two worlds'. They have been described as living neither in their 'Indigenous' world nor in the 'Western' world but in some middle, liminal, or in-between 'world'. People in such situations are often described as 'caught' or 'suspended' and with obvious negative social, emotional and health consequences. What is this cultural space that is often described as 'being between two worlds'? Can Indigenous people develop their identity within the demands and values of contemporary Australian society? CONCLUSIONS: Most people who live within the context of modernity move across a mixture of different social, spiritual and cultural 'worlds'. By projecting particular and negative meanings onto Indigenous people and their journey of identity, non-Indigenous people diminish the value of Indigenous energies and initiatives in attempting to cope with life's diverse pressures and expectations. The perpetuation of such attitudes serves to undermine the efforts that Indigenous people make to engage modernity while at the same time attempting to maintain values that are of critical importance for their health and wellbeing. Consequently, non-Indigenous people can end up diminishing the importance of their own life transitions.

publication date

  • February 2009