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Unsettling the Gap

Race, Politics and Indigenous Education


Sophie Rudolph

Unsettling the Gap: Race, Politics and Indigenous Education examines pressing issues of inequality in education. The notion of gap—and the need to close it—is used widely in public and policy debates to name the nature and scope of disadvantage. In the competitive world of education, gaps have become associated with students who are seen to be "falling behind," "failing" or "dropping out." A global deficit discourse is, therefore, mobilised and normalised. But this discourse has a history and is deeply political. Unsettling the Gap examines this history and how it is politically activated through an analysis of the "Australian Closing the Gap in Indigenous Disadvantage" policy. In this policy discourse the notion of gap serves as a complex and multiple signifier, attached to individuals, communities and to national history.

In unravelling these diverse modalities of gap, the text illuminates the types of ruling binaries that tend to direct dynamics of power and knowledge in a settler colonial context. This reveals not only the features of the crisis of "Indigenous educational disadvantage" that the policy seeks to address, but the undercurrents of a different type of crisis, namely the authority of the settler colonial state. By unsettling the normalised functions of gap discourse the book urges critical reflections on the problem of settler colonial authority and how it constrains the possibilities of Indigenous educational justice.

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Artist Biographies


Gordon Bennett (1955–2014). Born Monto, Queensland; lived and worked in Brisbane, Australia. Gordon Bennett is internationally acclaimed as Australia’s most significant and critically engaged contemporary artist. Recognised for his powerful perspectives on postcolonial experiences, particularly in the Australian context, his work maps alternative histories and questions racial categorisations and stereotypes. He has widely exhibited in Australia—Gordon Bennett: a survey, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2007, touring to Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; and internationally in History and Memory in the Art of Gordon Bennett, Brisbane City Gallery, 1999, touring Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK; Arnolfini, Bristol, UK; Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Norway. In 2012, he was Australia’s representative in Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany. Gordon Bennett is in major Australian and international collections and is widely published. He is represented by Milani Gallery, Brisbane and Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, Australia.

Tracey Moffatt b. 1960, Brisbane Lives and works in Sydney. Tracey Moffatt is one of Australia’s most renowned contemporary artists. Working predominantly in photography, film and video, Moffatt is known as a powerful visual storyteller. The narrative is often implied and self- referential, ← 193 | 194 → exploring her own childhood memories and fantasies, and the broader issues of race, gender, sexuality and identity. Tracey Moffatt represented Australia at the 57th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale 2017 with her solo exhibition MY HORIZON in the Australian Pavilion, curated by Natalie King. Moffatt has exhibited in numerous national and international art exhibitions and film festivals...

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