Faculty of Arts

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2013 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

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FacultyFaculty of Arts
Organisational UnitMonash Indigenous Centre
OfferedNot offered in 2013
Coordinator(s)Dr Rachel Standfield


Previously coded AAS3055


This unit critically examines the ability of white Australia to know Aborigines through the discursive power of representation. This unit explores white Australia's attempt to represent Aborigines, moving beyond the historical, political and legal 'facts' of the colonial encounter to address the inherent theoretical problems of 'talking' about and for Australia's Indigenous peoples. Topics covered include representation of Aborigines in media, history, sport, culture, public administration and law. The unit is self reflexive and critically assesses way the Western academy has claimed to possess knowledge about Aborigines and authority over Aboriginal lives.


This unit aims to provide students with an understanding of contemporary relationships between Aborigines and white Australia through a critical examination of how white Australia claims to know Aboriginal people, cultures and history. The unit will introduce students to the problematic of representation and the theoretical and practical influence representational constructs have exerted in shaping the colonial encounter between Aborigines and white Australia. On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate, both orally and in writing an appreciation of the broad social, cultural and historical context in which contemporary dialogues between Aborigines and white Australia operate.

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the key theoretical frameworks through which white Australia claims knowledge about and power over Aboriginal peoples and cultures.

  1. Describe and critically assess the central themes and issues that have shaped white Australian knowledge about Aboriginal peoples and cultures.

  1. Acknowledge and critically examine the difference between white Australia's representational constructs of Aborigines and the historic and contemporary realities of Australia's Indigenous peoples'.

  1. Acknowledge and critically examine the power and privilege of whiteness in contemporary Australian society.

  1. Demonstrate the various study skills and techniques necessary to successfully complete this unit and other Indigenous Studies units.

  1. The third year students, in addition, will be expected to provide evidence of independent research by reading and considering a range of materials not covered in the seminars or on the distributed reading list. (Added by Assessor)


Written work: 90% (4500 words)
Oral Presentation 10% (500 words)

Chief examiner(s)

Contact hours

One x 2 hour seminar/week


AIS1020 or with the permission of the coordinator