Resisting the violence of the settler colonial university: Complicating “success” through generative teaching practices

In this conversation, Fi and Lilly reflect on their experience as co-educators who have actively sought to create generative learning experiences for Indigenous young people while resisting the neoliberal demands of the settler colonial university. They respond to the question: what is our responsibility and obligation as educators to unsettle or complicate the ways that Indigenous young people have been conceptualised by harmful educational systems in which we are also implicated? How do we move from a theoretical cognisance of the violent educational context to generative pedagogical practice that enables students to both make meaning of their diverse experiences in relation to these systems while also determining success for themselves beyond those circumscribed by the institution?

In honoring a politics of citation, they discuss the key concepts and theories that enable them to develop and model practices that respond to the above. They reflect on the process and pleasure of working together and in relation to the brilliant, critical and strategic young people who have travelled through the Bachelor of Arts Extended program since 2016.


Lilly Brown is an educator and researcher. As a former Charlie Perkins Scholar she completed an MPhil at the University of Cambridge and currently teaches in the Indigenous Studies program at the University of Melbourne. With a background in critical Indigenous studies, education and youth sociology, Lilly’s work focuses on the possibilities education presents as both a site of positive transformation and social reproduction; the ongoing colonial violence resisted by First Peoples; and, the way anti-Indigenous racism, as foundational to Australian nationhood, continues to function. Lilly’s work responds to and is informed by her relationships with different communities in Victoria and across Australia, including with Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal young people and their families. She belongs to the Gumbaynggirr people of the mid-north coast of New South Wales.

Fi Belcher is a white settler-invader educator and researcher. She is currently undertaking a PhD through the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, which is concerned with the implications of sustainability education for conceptions of urban Country. Fi has co-taught into the Bachelor of Arts (Extended) program since 2016.  Fi currently lives on the unceded Country of the Kulin Nations.


Associate Professor Sana Nakata Associate Dean (Indigenous), Senior Lecturer in Political Science and co-founder of the Indigenous Settler Relations Collaboration, the University of Melbourne. Sana trained as a lawyer and political theorist, Sana’s research is centred upon developing an approach for thinking politically about childhood in ways that improve the capacity of adult decision-makers to act in their interests. Sana has recently completed an ARC Discovery Indigenous Research Fellowship examining Representations of Children in Australian Political Controversies (2016-2019). She is the author of Childhood Citizenship, Governance and Policy (2015), and along with Professor Sarah Maddison, edits the Springer book series: Indigenous Settler Relations in Australia and the World.

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