History Seminar Series, 18 April – Rebecca Cairns: ‘Asia and Senior Secondary History Curriculum Policy: A History of the Curricular Present’

This week’s History Seminar, ‘Asia and Senior Secondary History Curriculum Policy: A History of the Curricular Present’, will be presented by Rebecca Cairns.

Wednesday, 18 April (11am)


Room Details:
Burwood: F2.009
Waurn Ponds: JB2.107


As the 2018 school year commenced the Liberal Nationals announced that, if elected, the Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia cross-curriculum priority would be removed from the Victorian Curriculum and more emphasis would be placed on Western history. Political meddling in history curriculum and debate about whose histories and perspectives should be prioritised is not new. Australia’s engagement with Asia has been an education policy imperative for decades and yet the positioning of Asia-related histories within history curricula has been inconsistent and continues to be problematic. This paper examines the relationship between the policy contexts in which key Victorian senior secondary curriculum documents were created and the ways Asia and Asia-related histories are positioned within them. It draws on a recently completed PhD study. Framed as a history of the present (Foucault, 1977; Popkewitz, 2011) it traces the historical formation of Australian perspectives on Asia as a means of critically engaging with the present. It argues that the representation of Asia continues to shift in relation to the political, economic, intellectual, cultural and educational discourses that intersect during the socio-historical context in which history curriculum is created. These complexities have implications for the ways in which Asia-related histories are represented and engaged with in the present.


Rebecca has recently completed her PhD and is a lecturer in Education for the Master of Applied Learning and Teaching at Waurn Ponds. Prior to this she enjoyed twelve years teaching History, Philosophy and English in secondary schools in Victoria and Far North Queensland. Her interest in modern Chinese history led to her studying in Chinese and living in Nanjing and Beijing for a year.


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