The Indigenous Settler Relations Collaboration (ISRC) acknowledge the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung Peoples of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the unceded land on which the University stands and respectfully recognise Elders past and present.
The Indigenous Settler Relations Collaboration (ISRC) will be taking a new direction from 2022. The research unit in its current form will be disestablished at the end of this year. However, our staff, the scholarship, and—most importantly—the relationships we have built and nurtured over the past three years will find new life as the Australian Centre. The reconceived Australian Centre will build on the program and principles developed by the ISRC since its inception in 2016, although marking a turn in this work. Drawing on the relational principles developed by the ISRC, the Centre will turn the lens directly on the settler state, its culture, institutions, sovereignty and identities. We are very excited to welcome Dr Julia Hurst to the team as the Centre’s new Deputy Director. The ISRC extends our greatest thanks to Sana Nakata for her work as ISRC co-director. The ISRC team wish Sana all the best focusing on her role as Associate Dean Indigenous. We also thank all of you for everything that you have contributed to the ISRC and look forward to working together in our new form next year.
The ISRC is a multi-disciplinary research unit devoted to exploring the challenges that lie at the heart of relations between Indigenous and settler Australians. We work in partnership with a range of Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations in Australia, using our networks and expertise to explore what might inform, shape and give life to more just relations between Indigenous and settler peoples.
We have made a deliberate choice to focus on relationships and relationality as a site of enquiry, arguing that ‘creating more just relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the Australian state is one of the most profound and important challenges this country faces’ (Nakata & Maddison, 2020).
Our approach to framing this challenge as a field of research draws from the structuralism of both settler colonial studies and decolonial studies / critical race theory. These fields posit that the ongoing injustice in relationships between Indigenous peoples and settler societies is perpetuated by the structures of colonialism and racism.
This is undoubtedly true, and it is important to map and contest those structures, recognising that it is Indigenous people’s ongoing resistance that most often makes these structures visible. At the same time, however, much mainstream scholarship focuses on the lives and bodies of Indigenous peoples, drawing attention away from the structures that perpetuate injustice.
By contrast, our approach centres relationality as a way of decentering disciplinary authority to know Indigenous peoples. Focusing on relations and relationality is expansive. Indigenous settler relations are inevitable and everywhere – in every part of the continent, in every school, hospital, prison and university, in every discipline.
Focusing on relationality reveals and denaturalises the structures of colonialism and racism and opens a productive space for transformative scholarship and engagement. This approach is not without risk, however, as relations are not always among equals. A critical and reflexive approach to Indigenous-settler relations then, becomes a practice of exploring these expansive sites of potential transformation while also considering whether the very relation itself is part of the problem.
Engage our services
In the collaboration there is a multidisciplinary team of leading researchers that are dedicated to exploring issues relating to Indigenous Settler Relations.
The collaboration is open to both short-term and long-term partnerships and are adaptable to a wide variety research needs. If you believe the ISRC would be a suitable fit for your initiative, research project or partnership then we encourage you to email the ISRC with your enquiry along with relevant contact details.
A summary of the publications produced by collaborators can be seen on the Publications web page.
The collaboration would love to hear from current or prospective graduate research students undertaking study related to the emerging field of Indigenous-settler relations.
The ISRC can assist with:
- Identifying potential supervisors
- Support with application processes
- Engaged research support for existing PhD and Masters by Research students
- Networking opportunities with collaborators
We encourage students at all levels to subscribe to our mailing list to hear of other opportunities to get involved with the collaboration.
Interdisciplinary Graduate Research Program in Indigenous Settler Relations
The Interdisciplinary Graduate Research Program is open to graduate researchers in any faculty undertaking research related to the emerging field of Indigenous settler relations in Australia and the world. The program will connect students with researchers across disciplines, fostering an engaged and supportive intellectual community, and creating a strong cohort experience for the duration of their study.
Eligible students must have commenced a PhD or Masters by Research.
Applications for the 2022 Program are open from Monday 1 November 2021 and close on Friday 4 February 2022.
The ISRC runs a reading group each semester. Our semi-regular meetings bring together graduate researchers, early career researchers and senior academics across myriad disciplines to discuss the chosen text, generating new ideas and relationships.
If you are interested in joining the ISRC reading group, email a few brief sentences about yourself and your research to I-SRC@unimelb.edu.au.
- 2021* – Routledge Handbook of Critical Indigenous Studies, eds. Brendan Hokowhitu, Aileen Moreton-Robinson, Linda Tuhiwai-Smith, Chris Andersen, Steve Larkin
- Semester 2, 2020 – Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the colonial politics of recognition, Glen Coulthard
- Semester 1, 2020 – Questioning Indigenous-Settler Relations: Interdisciplinary perspectives, eds. Sarah Maddison and Sana Nakata
- Semester 2, 2019 – Indigenous and Decolonising Studies in Education: Mapping the long view, eds. Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang
- Semester 1 2019 – As We Have Always Done: Indigenous freedom through radical resistance, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
*Please note: the reading group will be conducted via Zoom and not face-to-face.
View a selection of current and completed projects that have been undertaken by the Indigenous Settler Relations Collaboration.
View a selection of books, book chapters, journal articles, conference papers and the Springer Book Series published by academics associated with the Indigenous Settler Relations Collaboration.
The health, safety and wellbeing of our community is our number one priority. Our events program is now online. Find out more about the University’s COVID-19 response.
Phone: +614 8344 1276
Indigenous Settler Relations Collaboration Research Unit
School of Social and Political Sciences
E672 John Medley (Building 191), East Tower
The University of Melbourne
Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia
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