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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2010 Undergraduate - Unit

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedNot offered in 2010
Coordinator(s)Ian McNiven


This unit offers an exploration of human evolution, world heritage and the politics of representation surrounding these. Based in South Africa and with access to early human fossil sites within the 'Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Area' such as Sterkfontein, the unit will examine biological and cultural evidence for human evolution in Africa and the subsequent 'Out of Africa' global colonisation by humans (with an emphasis on Australia), the ethnographic models used to explain early human behaviour, the manner in which this material is offered for museum exhibition and the politics surrounding world heritage designation and access.


The primary aim of this unit is to provide students with a detailed understanding of human evolution set within the context of the management (World Heritage Area) and representation (museum displays) of key fossil sites in southern Africa. A secondary aim is for students to gain an appreciation of how evolutionary developments in Africa set the scene for human migrations 'Out of Africa' that eventually led to the colonisation of Australia. On successful completion of this subject students will be able to:

  1. Describe and critically compare both orally and in writing the key concepts in human evolution, world heritage and museum representations
  2. Examine leading arguments and positions on the same from a range of disciplinary perspectives, including archaeology, heritage studies, and post-colonialism and museum representations
  3. Understand the importance of the various arguments within contemporary understandings of human evolution, and develop an appreciation of what it means to be defined as 'human'
  4. Critically analyse representations of humanity and culture and understand their relationship to debates concerning cultural politics such as 'who owns the past' and world heritage
  5. Engage with broader debates relating to the interpretation of human evolution
  6. Demonstrate both orally and in writing an understanding of the social and political context of these debates and their relationship to broader social and political issues of representation.


1 x seminar paper (2000 word): 20%
1 x research essay (5000 word): 60%
1 x Oral presentation (1000 word equivalent): 10%
1 x Multimodal self-reflective visual diary: 10%

Contact hours

Intensive Mode over three weeks based in South Africa.
Week 1 (Mon-Fri)
4 days of Lectures: each day - 2hrs in morning, 2 hrs in afternoon
Reading & seminar preparation each day: 3 hrs
1 Day fieldtrip to Apartheid Museum and Hector Pietersen Museum (Soweto)

Week 2 (Mon-Fri)
1 day fieldtrip: Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Area (Maropeng Museum)
1 day fieldtrip: Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Area (Sterkfontein fossil site)
1 day fieldtrip: Witwatersrand Uni (Origins Centre & Rock Art Centre Museums)
1 day of lectures: 2hrs in morning, 2 hrs in afternoon
1 day of research at Witwatersrand University

Week 3 (Mon-Fri)
1 day of lectures: 2hrs in morning, 2 hrs in afternoon
1 day of research at Witwatersrand University
2 days of seminar presentations

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

Geography and environmental science (ARTS)


Any 1st year sequence in Arts, Social Work, Education or Law.