Sport and race under the microscope 


Indigenous athletes in the Northern Territory have been subject to more extreme and prolonged hardships than their southern counterparts, according to research from Charles Darwin University.

Dr Matthew Stephen, who will be conferred a PhD from CDU at its May graduation ceremony this week, explored the history of sport and race in the Northern Territory between 1869-1953 to understand how and why it was, and remains, an active and powerful social agent.

“Sport and sporting fields the world over are hotly contested social and political terrain and are an important barometer of changing values,” Dr Stephen said.

He said that the obstacles of poverty, oppression, bigotry and discrimination that confronted non-White participation in sport throughout Australia were not different in the Northern Territory, but that the social, political and physical environment meant that they were more exaggerated and prolonged.

“At the heart of this history from sporting exclusion and segregation to integration and liberation for the Territory’s non-White sportsmen and women is the struggle for human rights and recognition.”

Dr Stephen’s research drew on and analysed diverse sources, challenging the conventional White history, challenging myths and interrogating the social memory.