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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2011 Undergraduate - Unit

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedCity (Melbourne) Summer semester B 2011 (Day)


Previously coded AAS2120


This unit considers the construction and representation of Indigenous culture and identity by reference to museum and art exhibitions and supporting literature. Museums and art galleries tend to give meaning to Indigenous 'cultural objects' by situating them within contextualizing narratives or by reference to additional information about their producers and production. This process may have broader implications relating to notions of Indigenous culture and their relationship to non-Indigenous history, identity and cultural production and property. These issues will be investigated through case studies drawn from current museum and gallery exhibitions in Melbourne's CBD.


This unit aims to provide students with an understanding of historical and contemporary representations and constructions of Indigenous culture and identity through a critical examination of museum and art exhibits. The unit will introduce students to current discussions focusing on the construction of identity and culture, as well as their relevance to museum and art contexts. 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 issues relating to the representation of Indigenous identities and cultures.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the key theoretical frameworks through which non-Indigenous Australia claims 'knowledge' about Indigenous peoples and cultures operate.
  3. Describe and critically assess the central themes and issues that have shaped non-Indigenous 'knowledge' about Australian Indigenous peoples and cultures.
  4. Acknowledge and critically examine the difference between non-Indigenous representations of Indigenous Australia and the historic and contemporary realities claimed by Indigenous people themselves.
  5. Critically examine how Indigenous culture and identity tend to be represented in museum and art exhibitions.
  6. Demonstrate the various study skills and techniques necessary to successfully complete this unit and later year Indigenous Studies.


Seminar paper (1000 word) : 20%
Research essay (3000 word) : 70%
Oral presentation (500 word equivalent): 10%

Chief examiner(s)

Stephen Pritchard

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

Australian Indigenous studies


1st year arts sequence or with the permission of unit coordinator