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Audra Simpson


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When we talk about resolving relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, most discussions are concentrated on political recognition and reconciliation. In her 2014 book Mohawk Interruptus, Audra Simpson proposes an alternative: refusal.

Pushing back against the widely-presented idea that questions of statehood, territory and multicultural politics are settled, Simpson visits the Wheeler Centre to make her arguments for alternative notions of sovereignty and cultural recognition amongst First Peoples.

Simpson is a Mohawk scholar based at Columbia University, whose research combines ethnography, history and political theory in her study of race, diversity and statehood. Simpson’s work is concerned with how power is experienced, shared and institutionalised in relations between settler states and indigenous communities. Can sovereignty exist within sovereignty? What legal and diplomatic tensions would that introduce … and what would justice look like?

In a time when Australian society is engaged in debates around constitutional recognition, a treaty and community closures, this event will offer an alternative view on local dialogues – drawn from the insights, challenges and tactics of First Peoples across the world.

After presenting a lecture, Simpson will further unpack her provocative arguments with Emma Kowal, author of the acclaimed Trapped in the Gap: Doing Good in Indigenous Australia.

Presented in partnership with the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University.


Audra Simpson

Audra Simpson is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. She is the author of Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States (Duke University Press, 2014) and co-editor (with Andrea Smith) of Theorizing Native Studies (Duke University Press, 2014). S... Read more

Emma Kowal

Emma Kowal is Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Alfred Deakin Research Institute of Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University. After studying medicine and anthropology at university she moved from Melbourne to Darwin to pursue a career in Aboriginal health as a doctor and public he... Read more


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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.