Indigenous Studies Unit Guide


Words || Jodie Ramodien

Marandayi maranama Dharug ngurra. 
Always was, always will be Dharug country.

A great way to learn more about Indigenous perspectives, knowledge, histories, practices, and the challenges these communities overcome is to enrol in the Indigenous Studies units taught by Macquarie University. These units are available at both an undergraduate and postgraduate level. The Department of Indigenous Studies facilitates a number of areas of research including the Forum for Indigenous Research Excellence (FIRE) and the Journal of Global Indigeneity, a digital journal that features critical essays, workshops, and conferences, with a focus on Indigenous communities on a global scale.

Note: The following information is from the 2020 Macquarie University course handbook.

ABST1000 Introducing Indigenous Australia

This unit offers a broad introduction to the histories, politics and cultures of Indigenous peoples in Australia. Students in this unit will study the historical impact of British colonisation on Australia’s first peoples and reflect on their own histories, politics and cultures. Students will learn about Indigenous political resistance focused on the protection of land, country, and cultural identities driven by goals of achieving social justice and the recognition of human rights and Indigenous specific rights. Students in this unit will also be introduced to the social, cultural and political outlook of contemporary Indigenous identity and explore the impact and influence of early colonialist race theory on contemporary representations of Indigenous identity. This unit presents as a thought provoking and challenging experience of learning about Australian history and contemporary politics through the lens of an Indigenous worldview. Thus providing a solid theoretical foundation for anyone wishing to pursue further Indigenous studies.

ABST1020 Dharug Country: Presences, Places and People

This unit introduces students to Dharug perspectives about Country, spiritual concepts including human and non-human ancestors, and the importance of connecting to place and belonging. Students will learn valuable insights from a diverse group of Dharug community members telling their own stories about sites of significance to them. Students will be introduced to Dharug language, art and other cultural practices demonstrating the continuity of knowledges that Dharug people have maintained for over 65,000 years.This unit allows students to connect with contemporary Dharug people and learn about the impact of colonisation on the community and also better understand how Dharug people and communities have resisted and survived. Dharug people will share stories of importance so students can be more aware of the politics of place.

ABST1030 Introduction to Indigenous Queer Studies

This is a multidisciplinary unit that draws from both Indigenous and Queer Studies which have generally been treated as separate fields of academic inquiry. This unit prioritises the voices and perspectives of Indigenous Queer populations as transformative of the social, cultural, and political landscapes of Australia and beyond. Through critical engagement with Indigenous LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer) perspectives, students will develop an understanding of Indigenous Queer identities and the specific challenges that these communities endure under oppressive colonial regimes. This unit will explore Indigenous Queer worldviews and standpoints that interrupt, challenge, enrich and recalibrate our understanding of community, culture, gender, sexuality, the body and desire.

ABST2020 Indigenous Culture and Text

This unit will examine Indigenous Australian texts to explore Indigenous peoples’ perspectives of culture and continuity. Students will be introduced to a variety of creative works, including biography, music, literature, and the growing presence of Indigenous voices in online spaces. We will consider the range of reasons Indigenous Australians write and create, from resistance to celebration, as well as the political motivations for publication. Students will also examine the impact of Indigenous creative works on national identity and understandings of Indigenous Australia.

ABST2035 Global Indigenous Queer Identities

Indigenous societies have recognised diverse genders and sexualities for thousands of years. This unit will investigate global case studies of Indigenous gender and sexual diversities including Australia, the Pacific, and Northern American regions. Students will analyse the continuity and development of gendered and sexual practices and the ways in which they have transformed in multiple colonial contexts. This unit will interrogate and challenge the influence and enforcement of western gendered and sexual norms by embedding an understanding of Indigenous worldviews situated within, beyond, and against the scope of the gender binary, heterosexuality, and gender and sexual taxonomies across the LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer) spectrum.

ABST2060 Indigenous Histories and Knowledges

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are recognised as belonging to the oldest living culture on earth with over 60,000 years of history and knowledge to draw upon. This unit explores Indigenous history and knowledge from the Big Bang through to contemporary times. Students will develop an understanding of Indigenous relationships to land, water, fire, food and medicine and recognise the ways in which Indigenous knowledges are utilised in everyday activities. This unit will provide a significant understanding of how Indigenous knowledge about the world can inform future thinking about conservation, land management, climate change and sustainability.

ABST3025 Indigenous Research Methodologies

This unit examines contemporary and historical research practices and explores decolonising and Indigenist research methodologies. This unit also provides students with the skills and knowledge to engage in ethical research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. Students are guided by a range of documents outlining ethical research practices including, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research guidelines, the National Health and Medical Research Council’s, Values and Ethics: Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research (Values and Ethics) and Macquarie University Ethics Approval process.

ABST3035 Indigenous Queer Theory & Practice

This unit will explore the convergence of theories that inform Indigenous Queer Studies as an interdisciplinary space. Through an investigation of post-structural theories, this unit will explore the emergence of Indigenous Queer critique from the margins of social and cultural movements, such as feminism. Students will be introduced to Indigenous Queer readings of theories such as intersectionality and examine how Indigenous Queer perspectives unpack, translate, and reterritorialize knowledge in ways that centralise Indigeneity and Queerness. This unit will inform students understanding of multiple and complex forms of resistance to the ongoing erasure of Queer Indigenous and coloured populations and challenge the dominance of non-Indigenous ideas and knowledge which continue to enable and comply with settler colonial projects.

ABST3040 Indigenous Policy: Politics and Activism

This unit provides a focused reflection and critical analysis on the political histories of Indigenous peoples in Australia. Students in this unit will study past and current social and political movements dedicated to achieving social justice through the pursuit of human rights, civil rights, and Indigenous rights. Students will learn about a range of approaches to social and political movements striving for justice for past and present acts of colonial violence, protecting land and country, protecting sovereignty and asserting the political status of first peoples. Through a process of critical reflection embedded in the unit, students will also reflect on the social and political movements that have influenced their own lives or their family’s life. This unit presents a thought provoking experience of learning about social and political movements in Australia from an Indigenous perspective.

ABST8990 Master of Research – Indigenous Studies

MRes Year 2 students in the Faculty of Arts will develop their knowledge and experience of research in their chosen discipline via a program of Faculty-level and department activities and assessments. Students will complete two assessed and two non-assessed tasks to assist with the design and implementation of an independent research project, the findings from which will be communicated via a 20,000-word, externally examined thesis. Alternatively, students enrolled in the departments of MMCCS or English may be required to produce a creative work and a 10,000-word thesis, which are also externally examined.

For more information:

Visit the 2020 Macquarie University course handbook

Visit the Department of Indigenous Studies website