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Unsettling the Gap

Race, Politics and Indigenous Education

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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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Author Biography

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Sophie Rudolph is a non-Indigenous, Anglo/European settler Australian. She has a long-standing interest in exploring issues of social justice, difference and equity in education, and these interests frame her teaching and research practices. Her research includes sociological and historical examinations of education and investigates issues of curriculum, pedagogy and politics in education, policy and practice. Her work is informed by critical and poststructuralist theories and aims to offer opportunities for working toward social change. Sophie has taught in schools in Australia, England and South Africa, and is currently Lecturer in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne.

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