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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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Advance Praise for Unsettling the Gap



Unsettling the Gap

“In this book, Sophie Rudolph intelligently, and in an ethically aware way, historicizes ‘gap talk’ in contemporary Australian Indigenous education policy. As well as a thoroughly researched ‘history of the present,’ her analyses and pedagogical use of Indigenous artists’ images provoke and decolonize how we might think otherwise about Indigenous education. Unsettling the Gap: Race, Politics and Indigenous Education is a profound book and a must-read for all concerned with Indigenous schooling.”

—Bob Lingard, Emeritus Professor, School of Education, The University of Queensland

“Unsettling the Gap: Race, Politics and Indigenous Education invites readers into a difficult conversation about how educational policies can enact both material and epistemic dispossession. Sophie Rudolph makes an extremely important contribution to educational studies by offering a highly sophisticated analysis of knowledge production in the context of settler colonial relations. The book is a persuasive and carefully argued account of how investments in settler authority are mobilized to reproduce colonial injustices in Indigenous education.”

—Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Race, Inequalities and Global Change, The University of British Columbia

“Unsettling the Gap: Race, Politics and Indigenous Education impressively examines and disrupts the governing colonial and racial logics of white supremacy in education. Empirically insightful and theoretically innovative, it indexes the concept of gap and its effects within a history of the present that analyzes the paradoxical role education plays in structural inequalities...

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