ATS3934 - Global indigeneity: Performance and spectacle from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century - 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.




Maryrose Casey

Not offered in 2017


'To see is to know' was the motto of Columbian world fair in 1893. Across the centuries as embodied encounters with people framed as the 'other' in world fairs, touring savage shows, wild west shows, and ethnographic displays set the terms of popular cross-cultural understanding. These racialized representations proved to millions of Europeans who witnessed them that the 'savage' was inferior and should be controlled.

In the 21st century the inclusion of Indigenous performance in major spectacles such as opening ceremonies of Olympic games by people whose land has been colonised such as Australia and Canada are seen as a symbol of cultural respect.

In this unit students will examine Indigenous performance in large scale spectacles from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries using approaches from performance studies, history and critical race theories to develop a richer understanding of the dynamics intrinsic to the embodied encounter between strangers from different cultural backgrounds and traditions across the last three centuries. Students will explore a range of topics including the fabrication of difference, the invention of the savage and reflect on what has and has not changed.


On successful completion of the unit students will be able to:

  1. Describe and explain the ways in which racialized hierarchies, as expressed and made popular through performance, supported colonialism.
  2. Describe and explain the ways in which representations effectively create a sense of power and knowledge in relation to people and cultures outside our personal experience.
  3. Critically examine accounts of embodied encounters.
  4. Critically reflect upon the ways in which knowledge and cultural comparison enables us to be more critically aware of our own cultural practices.


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.

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


Twelve credit points of second-year Arts units.