The colonial project of gender (and everything else) under the burden of proof


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The colonial project of gender (and everything else) under the burden of proof

Presentation by Professor Sandy O'Sullivan

Many doing the work of the colonial project continue to assert reductive containers on the bodies of Indigenous peoples – with our histories made reductive through the burden of proof falling to Indigenous people. We are required to prove that gender was complex, that our lives were more than reproductive in the ways that they define. We are required to provide this proof in spite of their centuries-long systematic erasures. This presentation explores how institutions that seek to understand the past – in particular universities, museums and archives, colonial sites of memory keeping – can reset this by applying that same lens of proof to their own assumptions to move beyond reductive ideas of who we are, and to listen instead to who we are and have always been.


Professor Sandy O’Sullivan is a Wiradjuri transgender/non-binary person in the Department of Indigenous Studies and the Centre for Global Indigenous Futures at Macquarie University. They are a 2020-2024 ARC Senior Future Fellow, with a project titled Saving Lives: Mapping the influence of Indigenous LGBTIQ+ creative artists. Since 1991 they have taught and researched across gender and sexuality, museums, the body, performance, design, and First Nations’ identity.

Please note the captions on this presentation are automatically generated and not accurate. You can turn the subtitles on and off by clicking the CC button.

First published on 27 May 2022.

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