Fear and Assuagement: representations and engagement of First Peoples in national museum spaces.

Dr Sandy O’Sullivan


Wednesday 16th April, 2pm to 3pm
Monash Indigenous Centre Library
Building 55 level 2. Clayton Campus

Imagine you’re doing a multi-year Australian Research Council-funded project on the representation of First Peoples in national museum spaces, and you’ve already visited 150 (of the eventual 425) museums over three countries and suddenly you find your work grinding to a halt because of a major sticking point for your participants. In this presentation, I’ll be revealing some of the moments that led to this and the solutions that finally restarted the conversations and the research.

The project, now nearing completion, began as a way to identify effective representations and engagements of Indigenous communities and peoples in the leading museum spaces of their own countries. The project asked a single question of the visited museums: what works? This presentation will focus on some of the stories and ideas that have emerged from this question, and will highlight the difficulties that some museums had in dealing with their own reductive ideas around identity. The dissemination of the research is in the standard form of a book and a range of journal articles, but the presentation will also show and talk through the challenges and value of using a more unconventional research output.

Dr Sandy O’Sullivan is an Aboriginal (Wiradjuri) academic in the Research Division of Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education. She is a current ARC Senior Indigenous Researcher, an enduring OLT Teaching Fellow, and holds a PhD in Fine Art and Performance. Her current international research study focuses on the representation and engagement of Indigenous peoples in major museum spaces. Sandy is the Indigenous representative for Interpretation Australia and is committed to supporting positive outcomes for both museums and other keeping places.

For enquiries, contact Beverly Thomson – beverly.thomson@monash.edu

Download the flyer for this event (PDF)