• Offered by Research School of Humanities and the Arts
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Museum and Collection
  • Areas of interest History, Australian Indigenous Studies, Museums and Collections, Human Rights, Heritage Studies

This course encourages students to explore the relationship between social justice and museums with a focus on repatriation. It highlights the role that repatriation has and can play in advancing social justice, and the obstacles and responding strategies that have been presented. Participants will explore the role of repatriation as a social movement and investigate its influence in the development of new concepts in museum practice and policy, including decolonisation and new museology. The course critically reflects on the role of museums in the colonisation process and its impact, and the role they can play within 20th and 21st century social justice movements. It will consider repatriation as a site of resistance and a means to disturb dominant narratives about curated heritage and its management. The course explores methods of community engagement and the ways that museums have produced internal and external change as exemplified in key repatriation/museum case studies. It consider the link between repatriation, healing, reconciliation and nation-building. Course themes are explored through consideration of a wide range of collecting institutions including the work of local community museums and heritage centres. Repatriation as a social movement is explored broadly, including through understanding of the return of knowledge, archives, audiovisual materials, cultural materials and ancestral remains. How legal and other regulatory instruments connect with/link museums and repatriation is investigated. From an Indigenous perspective, the course explores key terms such as 'justice' 'self-determination', 'heritage' and 'reconciliation' to problematise and understand the role and potential of repatriation, museums and community collections to contribute to advancing social justice for colonised peoples whose cultural and bodily remains became part of institutional collections in Australia and worldwide.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. describe and critically appraise the interconnections between repatriation , social justice, and collecting institutions;
  2. understand Indigenous world views surrounding repatriation of knowledge, audiovisual materials, cultural materials and Ancestral Remains and identify mechanisms of change in museum theory and practice;
  3. identify and describe key concepts in Indigenous social justice movements and how these are manifested in repatriation and museum practice, including matters of rights, representation, narrative and identity; and
  4. identify and analyse the role of, and challenges for, cultural institutions and Indigenous peoples, both locally and internationally in advocating for human rights, social justice and reconciliation.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Pre-reading and 5 key text summaries, 300 words each (25) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. Reflective journal, 1500 words (25) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Major research project developed from a direct and critical engagement with one or more cultural institutions and/or repatriation campaigns/events, 3500 words or equivalent (50) [LO 1,2,3,4]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:

a) 30 hours of contact attending intensive sessions over consecutive 5 days; and

b) 100 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Prescribed Texts

Not applicable

Preliminary Reading

Apsel, J. 2015. Introducing Peace Museums. London: Taylor and Francis.

Bardgett, S. 2012: ‘The Material Culture of Persecution: collecting for the Holocaust Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum. In G. Were & J King (eds): Extreme Collecting: Challenging Practices for 21st Century Museums. Berghahn Books. Pp19-36.

Dean, D. 2013. ‘Museums as sites of historical understanding, peace, and social justice: views from Canada’ Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology19(4): 325-337.

Fromm, A. B., Rekdal, P. B., & Golding, V. 2014. Museums and Truth. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Fforde, C., Knapman, G. and C. Walsh 2020: Dignified Relationships: Repatriation, Healing and Reconciliation. In C. Fforde, C. T. McKeown & H. Keeler (eds) The Routledge Companion to Indigenous Repatriation: Return, Reconcile, Renew. Routledge

Hemming, S., Rigney, D., Sumner, M., Trevorrow, L., Rankine, L. Jr. & Wilson, C. 2020 Returning to Yarluwar-Ruwe: Repatriation as a Sovereign Act of Healing. In C. Fforde, C. T. McKeown & H. Keeler (eds) The Routledge Companion to Indigenous Repatriation: Return, Reconcile, Renew. Routledge

McKeown, C. T. 2020 : Indigenous Repatriation: The Rise of the Global Legal Movement. In C. Fforde, C. T. McKeown & H. Keeler (eds) The Routledge Companion to Indigenous Repatriation: Return, Reconcile, Renew. Routledge.

Western Apache NAGPRA Working Group 2020: Striving for Gozhóó: Apache Harmony and Healing Through Repatriation. In C. Fforde, C. T. McKeown & H. Keeler (eds)

The Routledge Companion to Indigenous Repatriation: Return, Reconcile, Review. Routledge

Thorpe, K., Faulkhead, S., & Booker, L. 2020: Transforming the Archive: Returning and Connecting. In C. Fforde, C. T. McKeown & H. Keeler (eds) The Routledge Companion to Indigenous Repatriation: Return, Reconcile, Review. Routledge

Gachanga, T. 2017. ‘Transforming Conflict Through Peace Cultures’. In Walters et al (eds). Heritage and Peacebuilding. Boydell Press. Pp127-135.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
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Unit value:
6 units

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6.00 0.12500
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Winter Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
6385 01 Jul 2026 TBA TBA 30 Sep 2026 In Person N/A

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