Word map about privilege

Unpacking privilege

This event invites four panellists to explore what it means to 'unpack privilege' from different perspectives, in order to open up a conversation and bring the issues involved to the forefront of everyone's workplace and personal agendas.

The economic and political structures we live in have long histories of privileging certain kinds of people over others – class, gender, education, ability, ethnicity, sexual rights and skin colour have all played a part in a consistent, if variable, politics of inclusion and exclusion. We live in a time when there is increasing effort to address this history, to be more inclusive, to live with diversity. With such goodwill, why does this remain so difficult? Why are there resistances, silences, denials? What character do these take, and how are they experienced? What does desired ‘change’ really look like? What might be getting in the way of achieving it? 

Such questions require that we interrogate the foundational question: what is ‘privilege’? Who has it, who doesn’t? Is it a status or an experience? Is it a label imposed by others, often rejected? Is it a virtue, born of hard work; or a justification of inequity? Is it simply the absence of oppression? 

There will be time for Q&A – so come and get involved in one of the most important issues of our times.

This event was held at the University of Sydney on Friday 4 May 2018. There is no podcast for this event.


  • Irene Watson is a Tanganekald, Meintangk-Bunganditj woman, a solicitor and law scholar who dialogues across Indigenous and western legal systems. She is committed in her academic and advocacy roles to advancing the recognition and rights of First Nations peoples both nationally and internationally.

  • Sujatha Fernandes combines social theory and political economy with engaged ethnography of global social movements, specialising in themes of neoliberalism, state theory, global black culture, storytelling, and migrant labor, with an area focus on the Americas.

  • Mariam Veiszadeh is proud of her refugee background and is passionate about championing the rights of minority groups in an endeavour to normalise 'difference'. She is a lawyer, author and social commentator. She was the 2016 Fairfax Daily Life Woman of the Year.

  • Gaynor Macdonald has been committed to re-inscribing Wiradjuri people of central NSW into the Australian story, highlighting their experiences of creative resistance. She is currently exploring the impact of neoliberalism on Aboriginal subjectivities, and the significance of decolonisation for a settler nation. She is co-convenor of the Social Inclusion Network. 

  • Lily Zubaidah Rahim (chair) speciallises in authoritarian governance, ethnic politics and democratisation in Southeast Asia, and political Islam in Muslim-majority states. She is President of the Malaysia and Singapore Society of Australia; convenor of the multi-disciplinary ‘Religion, State and Society’ Network; and co-convenor of the Social Inclusion Network.

Co-presented with the Social Inclusion Network.

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