Black Stories Matter: the media, power and Aboriginal aspirations

The Australian Centre thanks Ashley Anderson for the careful and considerate revision of provided captions.

Webinar summary and key themes

This webinar is the third in the Australian Centre's 2022 Critical Public Conversations series: Undoing Australia.

Mainstream media reporting of Aboriginal people has long been governed by the broader inequalities and racism that shape Indigenous-settler relations in Australia. In a major study of how media had covered Aboriginal political aspirations, we identified three major narratives that operated to delay and deny Aboriginal self-determination. We also uncovered an alternative narrative of Indigenous sovereignty and nationhood – present across Indigenous communication texts and in interventions of Aboriginal political actors and their supporters – which worked to unsettle the dominant narratives and challenge their constraining logics. In this collaborative lecture, we aim to share the tools and resources we developed to understand and analyse the discourses and narratives that shape our ways of knowing Indigenous-settler relations. We consider how they have changed and can be changed to advance sovereignty and self-determination claims. By understanding the media’s ways of knowing Aboriginal people and political worlds, we can be armed to disrupt the patterns of the past.


Professor Heidi Norman is a leading Australian researcher in the field of Aboriginal political history. She has made significant contributions to understandings Aboriginal social, cultural, economic and political history where she addresses questions of power in relation to Aboriginal citizens, the state and settler society and Aboriginal land justice. She is the Associate Dean (Indigenous) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Sydney and a descendant of the Gomeroi people from north western NSW.

Dr Archie Thomas is a Research Fellow in the Social and Political Sciences Program at the University of Technology Sydney. In 2021 they completed a six month postdoctoral fellowship at the Australian National University’s Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR). Their research focuses on institutions and social change, education and power, discourses and media representations, and Indigenous and settler relations.

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