How should Australia try to understood its unsavoury history? In this episode, I discuss a recent TV drama series called Cleverman about an Indigenous superhero who finds himself fighting a securitised white establishment.

So what does Cleverman tell us about the dynamics of race, history, and Indigeneity in contemporary Australia?


Show notes

This episode focuses on a recent TV drama from Australia, about a superhero named Cleverman who becomes involved in a a state of conflict involving a fictional group of Indigeous ‘subhumans’. The drama explores many of the issues of white Australia’s relationship with the Indigenous people.

The podcast was recorded a few months ago, in autumn 2017, before the release of Black Panther – which explores similar issue of colonialism, racialisation and whiteness in quite different ways to Cleverman.

I am not a fan of superhero movies. From what I’ve seen, most of the mainstream superhero genre is orientalist, racist, misogynist, and profoundly white. Black Panther aside, it seems that a modern superhero is not required to fight the forces of state, systematic oppression — particularly if that is race-based oppression.

So the production of Cleverman by Sundance TV in Australia stands out in many distinct ways, it contains something far more than anything that has preceded it.

It is literally a critique of normative white supremacism, dressed up as near-future science fiction. And in doing so, it is brutally honest.


A full text version of this discussion can be found on the Religion Bites blog.


Useful links


The text of this episode can be found in on the Religion Bites blog.



About the History's Ink Podcast


This is a podcast about history, the way in which we tell history and how we understand it.