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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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List of Images


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Image 1.1. Tracey Moffatt, Pioneer Dreaming, 2013, From the series ‘Spirit Landscapes’, Digital print on handmade paper, hand coloured in ochre, Edition of 8. Image 27 × 61cm. © Tracey Moffatt. Courtesy the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney.

Image 2.1. Vernon Ah Kee, austracism, 2003, ink on polypropylene board, satin laminated, edition of 3. image 120 × 180 cm. ©Vernon Edward Ah Kee/Copyright Agency, 2018. Courtesy the artist and Milani Gallery. Photo: Carl Warner.

Image 3.1. Maree Clarke, Mutti Mutti/Yorta Yorta/Boon Wurrung peoples, Made from Memory (Nan’s house) 2017 (detail), holographic photograph, 100 × 150 cm, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Purchased 2017 in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum. ©Maree Clarke. Image courtesy the artist and Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne. ← ix | x →

Image 4.1. Brenda L. Croft, Only shadows remain, 1998, Ilfachrome digital print. Image: 49 × 76cm. ©Brenda L. Croft/Copyright Agency, 2018. Courtesy the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne.

Image 5.1. Gordon Bennett, untitled, 1989, oil and acrylic on canvas, six panels each 30 × 30 cm. ©The Estate of Gordon Bennett. Courtesy The Estate of Gordon Bennett and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, gift of Doug Hall 1993. Photo: Richard Stringer.

Image 6.1. Brook Andrew, Australian, born 1970, Vox: Beyond Tasmania, 2013, wood, cardboard, paper, books, colour slides, glass slides, 8 mm film, glass, stone, plastic, bone, gelatine, silver photographs, metal, feather. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Yvonne Pettengell Bequest, 2014 (2014.58)...

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