Latest Case Studies

Fifty people, fifteen of them children, died in the wreckage of a small boat, the Janga on December 15, 2010, at Rocky Point, off the coast of Christmas Island in Australia’s Indian Ocean Territory. Twenty of the dead remain unknown.

‘Migrants do not only die at sea, but through a strategic use of the sea … [E]ven when they drown following a shipwreck or starve while drifting in currents, there is nothing “natural” about their deaths.’

Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani,  Liquid Traces

‘I believe that Australia’s intelligence-based and still largely secret border protection system must itself carry a large share of responsibility when people die at sea whose lives could have been saved under different BPC [Border Protection Command] operational doctrines and protocols.’

Tony Kevin, Submission to ‘Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers’

‘Over the past 14 years Australia has emerged as one of the vanguard sites in the globalizing transformation of power that is the embrace of border security; Australia’s story is not only an Australian story. We see analogous processes taking shape and burrowing into the socius across the world: the USA, Europe, and Israel are three conspicuous cases.’

Peter Chambers, Shipwreck with Spectator

Sarah Lee Circle Bear was a 25-year old Native American mother who died while in custody at the Brown County Jail in Aberdeen, South Dakota. On July 3rd, Circle Bear was arrested following a traffic accident and placed in Roberts County Jail. Later, she was moved to Brown County. Throughout her stay in jail, Circle Bear demonstrated signs of detrimental physical health as she was shuffled between jail cells. No one really bothered to help her. On July 5th, she was found unresponsive in her jail cell.



This case study documents the spaces and contexts in which Indigenous women die outside the formal custody of the state: on the streets; on the open road; in their own homes or at the edges of communities. In these spaces, although outside of its carceral confines, the violence of the settler state is enacted through diverse practices that render Indigenous women’s lives unsafe and produce their deaths.

We use the term femicide to underline that the incidence of Indigenous women’s deaths in these disparate places is not accidental or random, but a systematic outcome of the logic of settler colonialism.




Set Slider URL



The research on this website is primarily funded by the Australian Research Council, for the project ‘Deathscapes: Mapping Race and State Violence in Settler Societies’ under its Discovery Projects Scheme (DP 160100303) from 2016-2020.

In year 1 and 2 partial funding was received from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada, for the project ‘Racial Violence in Settler Societies: An Interactive Multi-Media Site of State Violence Against Indigenous and Racialized Peoples’ under its Partnership Development Grants scheme (890-2014-002). CI: Professor Sherene Razack;  Community partners: Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto (Christa Big Canoe, Director);  African Canadian Legal Clinic  (Margaret Parsons, Director); Centre for Aboriginal Health Education at University of Manitoba (Dr Barry Lavallee, Director); Indigenous Social Justice Association, Sydney (the late Ray Jackson, founding Director).

We thank the School of Media, Culture & Creative Arts and the Australia-Asia-Pacific Institute at Curtin University for early development funding.

Thanks also to our design and development team (Tommy Segoro, Deanne Bowen and Claude De Lucia at Diversus and Jeffrey Effendi at DrawHistory) for their care, creativity and meticulous attention to detail.

Special thanks to Mike Sowerby of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at Curtin University for his invaluable insights and advice in developing the courtyard garden.

We are grateful to the artists, photographers and poets who have generously allowed us to feature their work on this site. All copyright for their work remains with them.  All efforts have been made to contact each artist whose work is reproduced here.  We ask anyone we have not yet managed to reach to please contact us at

All other content on the site is licensed under the Creative Commons Licence CC BY-NC-ND which allows for non-commercial sharing of the material as long as it is not changed in any way and the source is attributed to See Copyright, Permissions and Conditions of Use for more information.

Details of images on our Home page  are in the Galleries section.


Please Read

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are respectfully advised that this website contains images of and references to deceased persons.

All viewers are respectfully advised that the site contains images of and references to the deaths in custody of Indigenous peoples, Black people and refugees that may cause distress.