Whiteness in education

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

Webinar summary and key themes

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

In this talk Associate Professor Gerrard and Dr Rudolph advance the argument from their newly co-written book, Learning Whiteness: Education and the Settler Colonial State (Sriprakash, Rudolph & Gerrard, 2022 – Pluto Books), that whiteness is not innate, it is learned. The systems of white dominance that operate worldwide are not natural but created and maintained through social and political life. In this presentation they outline how material conditions, knowledge politics and complex feelings operate in education (both formal and informal) through pedagogies of the state to sustain systems of racial domination. Associate Professor Gerrard and Dr Rudolph offer an invitation to listeners to reckon with past and present politics of education to imagine a future thoroughly divested from racism.


Associate Professor Jessica Gerrard is the author of Class in Australia (2022), Precarious Enterprise on the Margins: Work, Homelessness and the City (2017), and Radical Childhoods: Schooling and the Struggle for Social Change (2014).

Dr Sophie Rudolph is a Senior Lecturer in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. She is the author of Unsettling the Gap: Race, Politics and Indigenous Education (2018).


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.