Dismantling settler futures

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

Webinar summary and key themes

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

In previous work together, we identify settler colonial technologies of temporality operating through Australian Indigenous policy, and argue that often unacknowledged stories of the colonial future sustain the settler project. In this discussion, we explore the relationship between what Tuck and Yang (2012) have called settler futurity, and the violence produced by a settler order permanently invested in securing an inherently fragile claim to sovereign legitimacy. As white colonisers simultaneously complicit in and seeking to challenge the Australian racial-colonial project, we consider how European understandings of sovereignty shape settler temporalities and inflect our commitments to apparently ‘decolonising’ agendas at the level of political orders, settler political and academic institutions, and subjectivities. We discuss the implications of this for our own political investments and responsibilities, and reflect on what this might mean for our models of solidarity. How might settler anti-colonial praxis engage the here and now – and begin to more effectively refuse settler futures?


Dr Elizabeth Strakosch is a senior lecturer in public policy and governance at the University of Queensland, and her work focuses on Indigenous policy, colonialism, political relationships, bureaucracy and new public management. Her research explores the connections between political relationships and policy systems in Australia and other settler contexts. contexts. Elizabeth is a non-Indigenous scholar who aims to carry out politically located research that respects Indigenous sovereignty.

Elizabeth is currently working with colleagues at the University of Melbourne on the ARC project Revitalising Indigenous-State Relations, and developing a comparative study of Australian and US Indigenous policy relationships.

Together Alissa and Elizabeth have published four articles including:


Professor Sarah Maddison is Professor of Politics in the School of Social and Political Sciences, and Director of the Australian Centre. She is particularly interested in work that helps reconceptualise political relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the Australian settler state, including critical examinations of a range of relevant public policies. Her recent work has focused on the treaty process in Victoria, and she is currently working with the Australian Centre’s Deputy Director, Julia Hurst, exploring the role of truth-telling in treaty making. Sarah has also designed the Professional Certificate in Treaty, which includes the Preparing for Treaty series of Melbourne MicroCerts.

Sarah has published widely in international journals and is the author or editor of nine books including, most recently, The Colonial Fantasy: Why white Australia can’t solve black problems (2019). Her other books in the field include The Limits of Settler Colonial Reconciliation (2016), Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation (2015), Beyond White Guilt (2011), Unsettling the Settler State (2011), and Black Politics (2009). Sarah has led numerous research projects and was an Australian Research Council Future Fellow for 2011-14, undertaking a project that examined reconciliation in Australia, South Africa, Northern Ireland, and Guatemala. Her current ARC project is exploring intersections in Indigenous and settler governance regimes.

The presenters have granted permission for this recording to be used for personal viewing and educational purposes.