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Critical Multicultural Perspectives on Whiteness

Views from the Past and Present


Edited By Virginia Lea, Darren E. Lund and Paul R. Carr

Whiteness is a narrative. It is the privileged dimension of the complex story of "race" that was, and continues to be, seminal in shaping the socio-economic structure and cultural climate of the United States and other Western nations. Without acknowledging this story, it is impossible to understand fully the current political and social contexts in which we live. Critical Multicultural Perspectives on Whiteness explores multiple analyses of whiteness, drawing on both past and current key sources to tell the story in a more comprehensive way. This book features both iconic essays that address the social construction of whiteness and critical resistance as well as excellent new critical perspectives.

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21. An Epistemic Instruction Manual: The Blinding Whiteness of the Australian National Curriculum (Glen Parkes)


Chapter 21

An Epistemic Instruction Manual

The Blinding Whiteness of the Australian National Curriculum

Glen Parkes

The purpose of this chapter is to examine the Australian National Curriculum in English (Australian National Curriculum in English, n.d.) as (potentially) a reinterpretation and extension of colonisation and neo colonial practice through White-centric educational practices and processes. This (re)interpretation, presented through (un)documented curricula plans for learning and racialized language definitions, was viewed as a practice to maintain and promulgate White-centric constructs in Australian society, and an (unspoken) epistemic instruction manual detailing practices of Whiteness to be replicated in classroom epistemologies and pedagogies. Such replications were sought and documented as moments of colonization occurring within the Australian National Curriculum in English, as both content and philosophy. How does the Australian curriculum construct equality and difference in the learnings, knowledges, and instructive enactments presented therein?

In exploring contemporary Western curricula for practices of Whiteness I did not seek to engage the problem through invoking the binary of the white and non-white other. Such a narrative potentially continues a White-centric position incorporated within white Western hegemonically dominant societies. In using terms such as “white” and “non-white,” the explanation sought to express the hegemonic realities observed and theorised, whilst also acknowledging language can be an important marker of privilege and hence oppression (Kincheloe, 1999). Whilst the term white overwhelmingly refers to Western European descendants in the context of Australia, the non-White “location” incorporates a multiplicity...

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