ATS2355 - Race and power: Imagining Indigenous Australia - 2017

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.




Dr Rachel Standfield

Unit guides



  • First semester 2017 (Day)


This unit critically examines the ability of white Australia to know Indigenous people through the discursive power of representation. This unit explores white Australia's attempt to represent Indigenous people, 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 Indigenous people 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 Indigenous people and authority over Indigenous lives.


This unit aims to provide students with an understanding of contemporary relationships between Indigenous people and white Australia through a critical examination of how white Australia claims to know Indigenous 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 Indigenous people 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 Indigenous people and white Australia operate.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the key theoretical frameworks through which white Australia claims knowledge about and power over Indigenous peoples and cultures.
  3. Describe and critically assess the central themes and issues that have shaped white Australian knowledge about Indigenous peoples and cultures.
  4. Acknowledge and critically examine the difference between white Australia's representational constructs of Indigenous people and the historic and contemporary realities of Australia's Indigenous peoples'.
  5. Acknowledge and critically examine the power and privilege of whiteness in contemporary Australian society.
  6. Demonstrate the various study skills and techniques necessary to successfully complete this unit and other Indigenous Studies units.


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.


AIS3055, ATS3355