IPA Today

Highlights of Dr Bella d’Abrera on The Young IPA Podcast

Written by and
25 October 2017

On the IPA’s latest report The Rise of Identity Politics: An Audit of History Teaching at Australian Universities

  • “Personally I think [these subjects] don’t belong in history faculties. They are subjects that are largely focused on identity politics, looking at the past through the lenses of class, race and gender.”
  • “They are reducing 2,500 years [of human history] to three very simple themes…it’s a dumbing down, an anti-intellectualism which is really worrying, and it’s very difficult to see how it could be reversed.”
  • “At the University of Western Australia, second year students could choose a subject called ‘Masculinity, Nostalgia and Change’ and they basically spent their tutorials discussing constructions of masculinity in Europe, Australia and Asia since 1700 drawing from queer theory, gender theory, sociology and cultural study to explore changing cultural assumptions about masculinity. But then, in case you were thinking there was too much focus on men, the following year you can do something called ‘Feminist Thought’, which basically examines the history and philosophy of thinking gender and the West from its emergence in 18th century liberal humanism to the present. But this is my favourite bit – students undertook slow readings of the key texts with workshops and some assessments foregrounding of ‘feelingful’ responses.”

On the reaction from academia

  • Academics “are denying any influence of identity politics in their faculty, which I found astounding because you just have to look at the course handbooks and the course descriptions.”
  • “There was another response today [from the University of Melbourne] in The Conversation saying ‘no, we do teach all these decent courses, identity politics just isn’t a thing.’ Which I find incredible, because you just have to look at their website.”


For the rest of this interview and the rest of the episode, listen to The Young IPA Podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud and our website.

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To read the full report, click here.

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James Bolt

James Bolt is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs

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