Teaching about and Working with Whiteness and Difference in the University Context
This paper explores my research and experience in teaching about whiteness and difference in the Australian university context. A central focus of this teaching lies with an examination of whiteness as a structure of authority; and difference and relations of power. The paper reflects on the processes of engaging white students in coming to understand whiteness as structure of authority; and as a location of identity; and their place in racialised relations of power. In engaging the students with these central concepts, the work of Foucault and discourse is brought into play whereby students are encouraged to understand power as it operates in local contexts (such as the university classroom in Greater Western Sydney) and at the same time the entanglement of the local with broader institutional, social and economic considerations that intersect with local contexts.
The paper addresses the processes of engaging students in thinking through power and difference in a white-dominated, racialised, gendered and classed, Anglo-settler society such as Australia. Thus, the paper is both an analysis of classroom practice in working with and about whiteness as a structure of authority; and at the same time it provides an examination of current racialised and gendered, and other social relations in the broader Australian context.
Keywords: Whiteness, Difference, Relations of Power, Classroom Practice
Dr Jane Durie
Head of Program, Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education, University of Western Sydney