About Project


About Deathscapes

Project Personnel

Ethics Advisory Board

Copyright, Permissions and Conditions of Use


Crisis Support Services

About Deathscapes

With the ultimate aim of ending deaths in custody, the Deathscapes project maps the sites and distributions of custodial deaths in locations such as police cells, prisons and immigration detention centres, working across the settler states of Australia,  the US and Canada, as well as the UK/EU as historical sites of origin for these settler colonial states.

It presents new understandings of the practices and technologies, both global and domestic, that enable state violence against racialized groups in settler states. Within the violent frame of the settler colonial state, centred on Indigenous deaths as a  form of ongoing clearing of the land, the deaths of other racialized bodies within the nation and at its borders–including Black, migrant and refugee deaths–reaffirm the assertion of settler sovereignty.

To focus on Indigenous deaths and other racialized deaths is not to collapse the differences between racialized groups, or to ignore the presence of other racialized populations in these states, but to address some of the shared strategies, policies, practices and rationales of state violence deployed in the management of these separate categories.

Text based image featuring quote that reads 'Now it is this police culture that has got to be broken in this country. It is a culture that not only affects us. It affects everybody - if you are Asian, if you are Muslim, if you are gay, if you are poor, if you are a kid. I mean, I don't know what the cop is here to save, unless it's the monied people. I don't know, but it certainly isn't a lot of society. They don't care about a lot of society. They couldn't care less about us.' - the late Uncle Ray Jackson, Wiradjuri activist and former President of the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA).

The late Uncle Ray Jackson, Aboriginal People and the Criminal Justice System

We situate deaths in custody within the shared contexts and interrelated practices of the settler state as they are embedded within contemporary global structures. By working across the major Anglophone settler states, as well as the United Kingdom and European Union, the project seeks to move away from the nation as the primary analytical unit to consider forms of governance and social relations that are transnationally linked.

The project adopts a transnational and cross-disciplinary approach to racialized state violence,  mapping racialized deaths in custody in  all their visual, analytical and geographical dimensions.

Text based image featuring quote 'What to do about it? Tell stories, use art to forge a way forward. I believe that when you have art you have voice...Be responsible with your voice, with your freedom, and when you do this you can change the cultural tapestry of a nation. I would like people to take the stories to the world, to humanise what has been dehumanised, to change the world and make it a better place with these words with your words and deeds.' - Richard Frankland, Gunditjmara researcher, artist, writer and activist.

Richard Frankland, Writer’s Notes,  Conversations with the Dead

Deathscapes seeks to ‘humanise what has been dehumanised’ by incorporating the aesthetic as part of the infrastructure of the site. The artworks on the site offer testimony of what otherwise would remain unsaid and unrepresented; they offer graphic examples of acts of protest and resistance; they instantiate agency in contexts in which it is often so brutally denied; they amplify, through their visual languages, the key analytical and political concerns articulated in the various case studies of racialised deaths. More on the aesthetics of the site can be accessed here.  Notes on teaching with the Deathscapes site can be accessed here.

Project Personnel

Deathscapes: Mapping Race and State Violence in Settler Societies

Funded by Australian Research Council 2016-2020


Chief Investigators

Professor Suvendrini Perera, Curtin University

Professor Joseph Pugliese, Macquarie University

Partner InvestigatorS

Professor Marianne Franklin, Goldsmiths, University of London

Professor Jonathan Inda, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Michelle Bui, Curtin University

Pilar Kasat, Curtin University (2018)

Beatriz Maldonado, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Ayman Qwaider, Curtin University

Charandev Singh, Indigenous Social Justice Association

Dr Raed Yacoub, Goldsmiths, University of London

Project Manager

Dr Dean Chan, Curtin University (2016-2018)

Ethics Advisory Board

Dr Safdar Ahmed, Refugee Art Project

Assoc Professor Maurizio Albahari, University of Notre Dame

Ms Lorena Allam, Guardian Australia

Mr Ruben Allas, Independent writer and researcher on Criminal Justice and Aboriginal Visual Arts

Ms Tess Allas, Independent Researcher and Curator

Dr Sean Anderson, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York

Ms Renata Avila, Smart Citizen Foundation

Dr Robin Barrington, Curtin University

Professor Bronwyn Carlson, Macquarie University

Professor Chris Cunneen, University of Technology, Sydney

Professor Nicholas De Genova, University of Houston

Dr Maria Giannacopoulos, Flinders University

Assoc Professor Richard Frankland, University of Melbourne

Professor Mishauna Goeman, UCLA

Mr Abdul Karim Hekmat, Journalist and Photographer

Professor Joy James, Williams College

Dr Lara Palombo, Macquarie University

Dr Barry Lavallee, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak

Dr Hannah McGlade Curtin University

Ms Lena Nahlous, Diversity Arts, Sydney

Ms Carly Nyst, Human Rights Lawyer

Professor David Palumbo-Liu, Stanford University

Emeritus Professor Phil Scraton, Queen’s University, Belfast

Dr Wendy Teeter, Fowler Museum, UCLA

Professor Sunera Thobani, University of British Columbia

Dr Nicole WatsonUniversity of Sydney

Prof Ray Watterson, Retired Law Professor

Suspended boat, covered with net, painted with names of people who've died while seeking asylum in Australia. Marziya Mohammedali, Call Them Home, 2016. Photo: Michelle Bui.

Copyright, Permissions and Conditions of Use

All original creative works (including artworks, photographs and poems) reproduced on this site remain the property of the makers and permission for reuse must be sought directly from them or their agents.

All other material on the site is protected under the Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND which allows users to download and share material for non-commercial purposes provided that: a) the materials is not changed in any way and b) is credited as the source.


Except as specified above, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including files downloadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owners.

The authors named at the end of each case study must be credited when citing specific case studies.

All other material must credited to

In reusing material, please inform yourself of issues affecting Indigenous peoples in the states studied: Australia, the U.S.A and Canada. Indigenous groups in these states also have varying protocols relating to appropriate re-use. In particular, please ensure you have authorization to reproduce images, especially of those who have died.

All material relating to deaths in custody must be treated with respect and sensitivity.


This website has been designed with consideration of web accessibility requirements. Our website aims to meet the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) at level A at a minimum but aims for AA where possible.

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Contact us
Making our website accessible to all users is important to us. If you are experiencing any difficulties accessing our site or have any feedback or suggestions regarding how we can improve its accessibility, please contact us via the contact form provided or email

Crisis Support Services

Lifeline (Aus): 13 11 14
A free interpreting service for people who do not speak English is available for 13 11 14. To access this service please:
1) Call TIS on 131 450 and ask to talk to Lifeline on 13 11 14 in the language required.
2) TIS will call 13 11 14 on behalf of the caller.

Crisis Services Canada (Can): 1 833 456 4566

Samaritans (UK): 116 123

Suicide Prevention (US): 1-800-273-8255

International Support: International Association for Suicide Prevention and





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.