Approaches to Research
Anthropological research is diverse and varied but how does being First Nations influence the ways in which research is conducted? This plenary explores how First Nations researchers approach social science projects and includes an examination of the values, ethics and methodologies employed when doing research within our own communities. How is research within anthropology considered, designed and implemented by First Nations researchers? What is it like to research your own? Through critiques of the Colonial Project, to autoethnographic writing and through discussions of kinship and the development of social narratives, this plenary illustrates the diversity of Indigenous anthropological research.
Professor Sandy O’Sullivan (they/them/guwiiny), Professor of Indigenous Studies, 2020-2024 ARC Future Fellow, Macquarie University
Sandy is a Wiradjuri transgender/non-binary person and Professor of Indigenous Studies in the Centre for Global Indigenous Futures at Macquarie University, where they are a 2020-2024 ARC Future Fellow, with a project titled Saving Lives: Mapping the influence of Indigenous LGBTIQ+ creative artists. The project explores the unique contribution of queer artists to understand how modelling complex identities contributes to the wellbeing of all First Nations' peoples.
Since 1991 they have taught and researched across gender and sexuality, museums, the body, performance, design and First Nations’ identity. Sandy was the inaugural director of the Centre for Collaborative First Nations’ Research at Batchelor Institute. They recently completed an internationally focused ARC program examining the representation and engagement of First Nations’ Peoples across 470 museums and Keeping Places. In 2020 they completed an ARC Linkage mapping creative practice across the Barkly Region of the Northern Territory (Creative Barkly). Sandy works across both industry and the academy, and recently completed a national review of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance and theatre makers for the Australia Council for the Arts.
In addition to their academic work, Sandy has been a musician, performer and sound artist since 1982 holding national and international arts residencies.
Dr Jilda Andrews, (she/her), Australian National University, National Museum of Australia
Dr Andrews is an Indigenous cultural practitioner and museum anthropologist based in Canberra, Australia. Currently a Research Fellow with the Australian National University and the National Museum of Australia, Dr Andrews draws from her Yuwaalaraay heritage to investigate the connectedness of land, story and culture in museum collections. Jilda is interested in the dialogue between historical ethnography and contemporary cultural expression, and how these conversations can shine new light on contemporary museum work. Her approach seeks to push the definition of custodianship, from one which is focused on the collection and preservation of objects, to one which strives to maintain connections between objects and the systems which produce them. Publications include ‘Traditional Ecological Knowledges in textile designs of Northern Australia’, in Aboriginal Screen Printed Textiles from Australia’s Top End (Fowler Museum, UCLA, 2021) and the forthcoming chapters ‘String ecologies: Indigenous country and pastoral empires’ in Ancestors, Artefacts, Empire: Indigenous Australia in British and Irish museums (British Museum Press, 2021) and ‘Value creation and Museums from an Indigenous Perspective’ in Museums, Societies and the Creation of Value (Routledge 2021). Museum projects include concept development and producer of the National Museum of Australia’s permanent environmental history gallery ‘Great Southern Land’ (forthcoming, 2021).
Dr Jennifer Caruso, (she/her), Adjunct Lecturer University of Adelaide
Dr Caruso is an Eastern Arrente woman whose research, writing and speaking focuses on Aboriginal history across the 20th Century. Dr Caruso’s work crosses the breadth of that history.
As with many Indigenous peoples, Dr Caruso’s academic career has followed its own pattern, gaining her undergraduate and honours levels as a mature age student while lecturing in Indigenous Cultures and History at the University of Adelaide. The foundations underpinning Jenni’s approach in History is that understanding Aboriginal experiences since the time of colonisation is an imperative in education for all but more so for the empowerment of Aboriginal people. Jenni states that through her writing and speaking, in which she utilises both an Aboriginal knowledge position as well as an academic history approach, she “engages in political activism” drawing audiences into a paradigm shift bringing them to a ‘new’ and more accurate comprehension of the ongoing impacts of colonisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Jenni graduated in 2018 with her Doctoral thesis titled "Dream Phantasy of a Utopia" which uncovered the interactions between church, state, and academia (particularly anthropology) in the setting up of the Methodist Overseas Half-Caste Children’s Mission of Croker Island.
Jenni is also the recipient of the prestigious Gladys Elphick Quiet Achiever Award (2017), the 2018 South Australian NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award, shortlisted for the 2019 Premier’s NAIDOC Award, and most recently included in the South Australian Women’s Honour Roll.
Dr Gretchen Stolte (she/her), University of Western Australia
Dr Stolte is a Nimi’ipuu (Nez Perce) Native American and has degrees in art history and anthropology focusing on the material culture of First Nations peoples both in North America and Australia. Dr Stolte’s research areas focus on the relationship between cultural objects and identity and has published extensively about practice-based research, cultural protocols and the responsibility of western institutions in Indigenous cultural spaces. Her curatorial practices include two major exhibitions: Old Masters: Australia’s Great Bark Artists at the National Museum of Australia and Queensland Aboriginal Creations: Agency and Legacy at the Anthropology Museum at the University of Queensland. Dr Stolte is currently a lecturer at the School of Social Sciences at the University of Western Australia, specialising in research design and the ethics of research.