Seminar series

Please note that not all seminars were able to be recorded. Where possible, they have been made available here.

What does it mean to ‘Indigenise the curriculum’? The why and the how

Dr Corrinne Sullivan

DATE: Tuesday 10 November 2020


Universities Australia Indigenous Strategy 2017-2020 determined that all Australian universities need to have processes that ‘ensure all students will encounter and engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural content as integral parts of their course of study’. This call for action requires an understanding of not only why we need to Indigenise the curriculum, but also how to negotiate this space. Addressing the pedagogical practices and negotiating this teaching space is profoundly challenging for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics. Although this call to action does present distinct challenges, Indigenising the curriculum is an opportunity to interrogate the canon, to question assumptions and broaden the intellectual vision of the disciplines.

Dr Corrinne Sullivan is the Associate Dean (Indigenous Education) and Senior Lecturer in Geography in the School of Social Sciences at Western Sydney University. She is an Aboriginal scholar from the Wiradjuri Nation in Central-West New South Wales. Her research interests are multi-disciplinary and focus broadly on experiences and effects of body and Identity in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Corrinne also conducts research in Indigenous Education and has expertise in Indigenous curriculum and pedagogy development.

Human Right to Free Public Education and the Digital Divide

Associate Professor Azadeh Dastyari

DATE: Tuesday 13 October 2020


The right to free primary school education is a fundamental human right under international human rights law. However, education, including primary school education has not been free during the Covid-19 pandemic for many children in violation of Australia’s international obligations. Access to education has relied heavily on access to technology and the prohibitive cost of reliable internet has disadvantaged children from lower socio-economic backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The pandemic has drawn attention to pre-existing equity issues and has highlighted the significant human rights implications of Australia’s digital divide.

Associate Professor Azadeh Dastyari is in the School of Law at Western Sydney University. She researches in the areas of human rights, refugee rights, law of the sea and constitutional law. She is currently working on the application of human rights principles during public health emergencies such as the current Covid-19 pandemic. Her research has a particular focus on the experiences of vulnerable groups such as older persons, Indigenous Australians and children.

What does the Study of Minority Entrepreneurs in Australia tell us about the Dynamics of Racism, and vice versa?

Professor Jock Collins

DATE: Tuesday 25 August 2020


This paper reflects on recent research with various colleagues on the experience of minority entrepreneurs in Australia to think about the dynamics – complexities and contradictions – of racism. By minority entrepreneurs I mean Indigenous Australians, refugees, immigrants from a minority (CALD) background, including Muslim entrepreneurs, and people with a disability (PwD) who set up a business in Australia. While each group is very complex and internally and comparatively differentiated, they have as a common denominator the individual prejudice and/or the structurally-embedded discriminatory practices that block their access to jobs commensurate with their ability (human capital).  For people from minority groups the impact of formal and informal discrimination leads to their economic and social exclusion relative to other groups in society. A number – certainly not the majority – turn to setting up a business to overcome the blocked economic mobility that they face, a form of what the literature calls necessity entrepreneurship. For some on the Left these minority entrepreneurs are falling to a neoliberal trap by seeing the market and entrepreneurship as the solution – and not the cause – of their problems. Others fall into the trap of becoming fixated with the great barriers that Indigenous Australians, refugees, immigrants from a minority (CALD) background and people with a disability (PwD) face when setting up a business. They do lack, to varying degrees, adequate financial capital, human capital, social capital and linguistic capital, but to look solely at what they do not have rather than at their strategies to overcome these obstacles – that is, at their agency, determination to provide a good life for their families, their capacity for hard work and risk taking – is to construct a deficit model. Yet the mainstream entrepreneurship literature is weak in minority entrepreneurship, while economic rationalism has no conceptual framework – and no ideological will – to understand the realities of racism and the impact that racialisation plays in the economy and society. The picture that emerges is a complex, contradictory interaction between minority groups, the barriers that they face – the structurally-embedded discriminatory practices – their agency and the processes of racialisation in contemporary Australian society.

Jock Collins is Professor of Social Economics in the Management Discipline Group at the UTS Business School, Sydney, Australia. He has been teaching and conducting research at UTS since 1977. His research interests centre on an interdisciplinary study of immigration and cultural diversity in the economy and society. His most recent book - Jock Collins, Branka Krivokapic-Skoko, Kirrily Jordan, Hurriyet Babacan and Narayan Golpalkrishnan Cosmopolitan Place Making in Australia: Immigrant Minorities and The Built Environment in Cities, Regional and Rural Areas - will be published by Palgrave in November this year.

Race Beyond Social Construction: Building racial literacy

Dr Alana Lentin

DATE: Tuesday 28 July 2020

As the world wakes up to the reality that race still matters, there has been a scramble to understand racism, promoted through the sharing of reading lists and the organisation of online events. The maxim that race is a social construct with no basis in biological fact drives many of these attempts at public education. However, as Ian Hacking and Barnor Hesse have suggested, we need a better understanding of what we think race is the social construction of, or, in other words, as Patrick Wolfe wrote, we need to fill in the details as to when, where and how race was socially constructed. In Australia, in particular, there is a deeply insufficient racial literacy among the public, born of a wilful collective amnesia about the place of race in both its history and its present. Without a better understanding of the ‘colonially constituted’ nature of race (Hesse 2013), the possibilities for building racial literacy with transformative effects are thwarted. In these times in particular, rather than give way to the surge in acceptability of the biological determinism of ‘race realism’, we need an account of race that emphasizes its role as a key technology of power and eschews individualized, and psychologistic explanations of racism that are universalistic and ahistorical.

Dr Alana Lentin is Associate Professor in Cultural and Social Analysis at Western Sydney University. She is a European and West Asian Jewish woman who is a settler on Gadigal land. She works on the critical theorization of race, racism and antiracism. Her latest book is Why Race Still Matters (Polity 2020).

Segmenting Islamophobia: Understanding Victorians Varied attitudes towards Muslims

Prof Kevin Dunn

DATE: Tuesday 7 July 2020

This presentation is based on the research project, Segmenting Islamophobia: Understanding Victorians varied attitudes toward Muslims. The study aimed to address the following questions: To what extent is Islamophobia manifest across the Victorian population? What are the different manifestations and categories that can adequately represent the range of Islamophobia? Are some of the observed covariates predictive of individuals’ membership in each class? What are the types and form of anti-racist response to these categories of Islamophobia? Using data collected from a sample of 4019 Victorians, the study placed Victorians into 5 groups based on their perceptions of Islam in Victoria: Islamophobes (9%), Islamophobes with assimilationist tendencies (23%), Undecideds (17%), Progressives with concerns about Islam (32%), and Progressives (19%). Through a series of community consultations these groups were tested for validity and relevance and interventions that could target each group were developed. Key findings included: The Progressives was the only group untouched by Islamophobic sentiments, Islamophobia reaches through all of the other four groups, to some degree; and Islamophobia varied in each group across the degrees of social distance, support for (un)even treatment, recognition of intrinsic rights and citizenship, and intolerance of specific Muslim performances and traits.

This research project was a collaboration between the Challenging Racism Project, Western Sydney University and the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University. Co-authors include Craig McGarty, Thierno Diallo, Rachel Sharples, Fethi Mansouri, Yin Paradies, Matteo Vergani and Amanuel Elias.

Professor Kevin Dunn is Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research). He was Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Psychology between 2012 and 2019. His areas of research include the racism and anti-racism, immigration and settlement, Islam in Australia, and local government and multiculturalism. Recent books include Cyber Racism and Community Resilience and Landscapes: Ways of Imagining the World, and his recent articles are published in New Media and Society, Geoforum, Geographical Research, Australian Journal of Islamic Studies and the Urban Policy and Research. He is a Fellow of the New South Wales Geographical Society and past President. For fifteen years he has lead the national and multi-agency Challenging Racism Project.

What Next for Diversity?

Dr Alanna Kamp

DATE: Tuesday 26 May 2020

This presentation is based on the research project, What Next For Diversity?, commissioned by SBS and completed by the Challenging Racism Project team. Based on an online survey of 2015 Australians conducted in 2019, the project engaged with issues regarding Australian identity and culture, community and belonging, trust and anxiety, and contemporary social, economic and political changes. This presentation details the findings of Latent Class Analyses that were conducted on the thematic areas of: 1) views towards Australian values, identity and future; 2) attitudes to cultural diversity and difference; and 3) trust towards community, government and institutions, and corporations. Findings revealed that Australians generally hold positive and optimistic views, the vast majority value cultural diversity, and most acknowledge racism and inequality. However, negative attitudes on diversity drive deeper strains of pessimism. Pessimists are supportive of non-democratic governance, discriminatory immigration, and the rejection of climate change science. It was also found that Australians highly value trustworthiness in brands and corporations, yet their trust in the media, government and institutions is low.

Dr Alanna Kamp is Lecturer in Geography and Urban Studies (School of Social Sciences), Research Fellow in the Young and Resilient Research Centre (WSU), and academic member of the Challenging Racism Project (WSU). Her research contributions lie in the areas of Australian multiculturalism and cultural diversity, experiences of migration and migrant settlement, racism and anti-racism, national identity, citizenship and intersectional experiences of belonging/exclusion. Her work utilises national-level quantitative methods as well as smaller-scale qualitative techniques that are influenced by multi-disciplinary research (post-colonialism, feminism, history, diaspora etc).