Faculty of Arts

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This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2016 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.

Monash University

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

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



Organisational Unit

Monash Indigenous Centre


Associate Professor John Bradley


Not offered in 2016


Indigenous peoples worldwide are increasingly looking to past ethnographic descriptions of their ancestors' past lifeways in an effort to learn more about matters concerning kinship and language (among other things). In this unit students will explore a number of important early ethnographic texts written about Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders to learn more about the historical portrayal of Indigenous people and communities. Instead of seeing these texts of little value due to the nature of their writing and colonial stances, students will interrogate a selection of key texts to understand why and how they are still of value to contemporary Indigenous peoples while also examining the moral and ethical dilemmas posed through their contemporary use.


  1. At the completion of this unit students will be familiar with, and have a deeper understanding of the ethnographic endeavours undertaken by early anthropologists who worked throughout mainland Australia and the Torres Strait Islands.
  2. Through rigorous analysis of ethnographic text students will be able to demonstrate the important cross-cultural and intercultural issues that arise from such analysis.
  3. Through the study of ethnographic texts students will develop an awareness of the theoretical implications embedded in these texts and the moral and ethical dilemmas that might be posed through their contemporary use.
  4. Through analysis and engagement with the texts students will develop innovative solutions to the complex understandings that the selected texts can engender.
  5. Students will be able to apply their understandings of these texts to other ethnographic texts from other parts of the world and be able to place them within both historical and theoretical periods.
  6. Students will be able understand the empathic understandings in regards to Indigenous responses to such texts and as a consequence will also be well equipped both in regards the ethical and moral understandings they must have to approach these texts.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

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


Twelve credit points of first-year Arts units.