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The Australian National University

Seminar Series

The Centre of Heritage and Museum Studies Seminar Series

The Centre holds a series of monthly seminars on current issues in the field. If you would like to give a seminar in the series please contact Maya Haviland (

2017 Programme:

Culturally re-connecting the Native American and Pre-Columbian collections in the Vatican Museums

Katherine Aigner

Associate Curator, Anima Mundi – Peoples Art and Cultures in the Vatican Museums

With the first depictions of Native Americans in Europe in 1494, to the Qom People of Argentina and Kogipriests of Columbia, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, cultural objects date from the 16th century to the present day, as well as Pre-Columbian objects representing the Maya, Aztec, Incas and other pre-Columbian civilisations. Drawing on empirical experience, this talk will share the Indigenous perspectives gained through re-connection journeys in the Americas, and show images of objects from the recently produced catalogue.

The majority of the collections in the Vatican’s Ethnological Museum were sent for a great exhibition in 1925 inside the Vatican, when Pope Pius XI invited the people around the world to send objects about their cultural, spiritual and daily life to educate a European audience between the two world wars. The exhibition lasted for a year and included 100 000 objects – after the exhibition, an estimated 60 000 objects were returned to the communities and the remaining, gifted to the Pope, became the core of the permanent museum collection.

Today the museum has taken on a new importance with a philosophy of active engagement with the groups who sent the objects a hundred years ago or more. In a continuum of relationship the objects are reconnected with local knowledge and current meaning, and become active in promoting and preserving cultural heritage from the past and for the future through collaborations.


Past Seminars

“Torres Strait Islander Dance: understanding the movement of cultural knowledge”

Gretchen Stolte – Centre for Digital Humanities Research, Research School of Humanities and the Arts, ANU  

This seminar will explore the linkages between Torres Strait Islander regional and cultural identity and the different dances performed across the Islands. Research into the physical dance steps of the Torres Strait, their cultural meaning and the breaking down of individual dance movements is quite rare. There has been a lot of focus on the music and songs of the Torres Strait, but the physical movements are less known. This seminar will present the initial research findings exploring the types of traditional dances performed recently at two major cultural events. The first cultural event was on the 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision and the first raising of the Torres Strait Islander flag at a dance showcase. This showcase is significant as it was organized by Torres Strait Islanders for Torres Strait Islanders in Cairns, Queensland. The second event is the annual Cairns Indigenous Arts Fair which draws both Indigenous and non-Indigenous attendants. A comparison between the two events draws out important cultural differences and considerations when viewing Torres Strait dance performances.



Cultural Heritage Fever in China: Discourse and Practices

Dr Yujie Zhu

Since the UNESCO World Heritage Convention was ratified by China in 1985, the country has had fifty of its national sites inscribed as World Heritage. The ratification of the World Heritage Convention expresses the country’s efforts to embrace globalization, build up its national identity, and pursue economic development through the revitalization of cultural traditions and the promotion of heritage tourism.

Based on long term ethnographic research at heritage sites and cities in Yunnan, Sichuan and Shaanxi, this talk seeks to explore the multifaceted and contested nature of “cultural heritage fever” in contemporary China. I argue that culture heritage is not a global reward system, but a cultural, social phenomenon celebrated and contested by different actors. It is often not the local communities who identify what aspects of their culture should be preserved and presented. Instead, it is the central and local governments - with the help of the tourism industry, authorized agencies and mass media - that define ‘the authentic culture’ and promote it accordingly. The official heritage discourse utilizes the cultural expression of identity and sense of place and memory for political and economic control. In this presentation, I also discuss how heritage may be understood as having emotional, cultural and political consequences in peoples’ lives. Local communities are often not passive recipients of the ‘heritage effect’; rather, they consume, contest and negotiate to shape heritage policies and practices.


Miranda Forsyth - Associate Professor, RegNet School of Regulation and Global Governance, ANU

College of Asia & the Pacific, The Australian National University

“Water Music in Vanuatu – How does Law become Law?”


Dr Maya Haviland and Anni Doyle Wawrzynczak

“Into the Heart” - Community Art as a Cultural History of Canberra

This seminar will discuss Into the Heart, a research and curatorial project investigating the material and social history of collaborative arts in Canberra. We believe that the creative works that artists make, with and about local communities, capture cultural through-lines and historic moments. The goal of this project is to show the layering of community, culture and history in Canberra through the prism of collaborative artistic practices over its short history.

The project is a collaboration between Dr. Maya Haviland and Anni Doyle Wawrzynczak. It builds on Maya’s work on arts practices and projects as forms of collaborative anthropology (See Side by Side? Community Art and the Challenge of Co-Creativity, Routledge, 2017) and Anni’s recent research into the development of arts and culture in Canberra between 1912 and 2000 (Doyle Wawrzynczak, 2016). As will be discussed, this project is part of a larger project looking at methods of curating and exhibiting collaborative community arts as forms of cultural history.


Jilda Andrews

Encounters with cultural material in museum collections: an Indigenous perspective”

Successfully navigating the collection repositories of museums is a challenging and nuanced task. Indigenous cultural objects in museum collections all over the world are widely understood as having been removed from an original context to be placed with new meanings, under new hierarchies of value in systems still pungent with the residue of the colonial imperative.

For Indigenous Australians, these conditions ensure that encounters with collected objects are also encounters with the system under which they were collected, an encounter with the subjugation of the prevailing ideologies of the time, and an encounter with a contemporary reluctance to engage with difficult histories. This final thesis presentation will focus on encounters with collected cultural material from my own Yuwaalaraay country, the inland freshwater region of north western New South Wales. These encounters are explored in relation to contemporary postcolonial frameworks including Museums as a Contact Zone as developed by James Clifford and Mary Louise Pratt, as well as Martin Nakata’s Cultural Interface Theory. Through these lenses, I explore sites of agency and potential, as well as probe limitations brought about by persistently defining the relationships between museums and source communities as dichotomous– as the ultimate colonial legacy of the self and the other. This research invites a reconsideration of historical Indigenous cultural material in collections not as relics of the past, but as products of life and experience, fundamentally grounded by a uniquely Indigenous Australian consideration of the concept of ‘Country’.

Keven Francis

Shared Management of Cultural and Natural Landscapes

The seminar presents my PhD Thesis and associated visual practice Exegesis.It delivers a landscape management model that integrates Culture, Nature and Art (CNA) in a process focused on the intangible of heritage as the primary driver of policy development and management delivery. The model draws from the Aboriginal concept of Country to bring cultural and natural heritage management together and incorporate art practice in the management process. This is in contrast to the dominant Western landscape management system that recognises links but separates cultural and natural heritage management, whilst simultaneously separating the management of historic fabric (the tangible) and the performance of heritage (the intangible). 

The research theorizes heritage as fundamentally intangible and presents art practice as an intangible management process. The Thesis case studies are Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Purnululu National Park and Reserve, and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Terhi Nurmikko-Fuller

Australian National University 

Shedding Light on Ancient Inscriptions using 3D Models – a report on collaboration between the ANU and the British Museum


This talk reports on a project which saw the production of 3D digital replicas of a sample set of cuneiform tablets housed at the British Museum. The talk will highlight the ways in which digital technologies can enable research questions that would not be possible without them: 3D digital models can be enlarged, zoomed in on, digitally manipulated, and used to produce larger replicas that will improve our analysis of the unique features on the tablet surface. In the project with the British Museum 3D models are examined to establish whether they can be used to achieve a greater understanding of the minute displacement of clay on the object surface, invisible to the naked eye. If this proves to be possible the models will help in the identification of specific authoring individuals, as well as potentially being useful in the detection of fakes and modern replicas.

The cuneiform tablets capture the earliest instances of written language in human history, but the examination of the materiality of the cuneiform object is a new and novel approach. A preliminary study into wedge order (Taylor, 2014) determined the vast majority (two thirds) of tablets in a sample set of objects from the British Museum to have insufficient clay displacement to determine such features through unaided visual inspection. It is here that the application of digital technologies is opening up new research possibilities. 

Nigel Pollard

Swansea University

Heritage and spatial knowledge in the Second World War: How the ‘Monuments Men’ documented cultural property. 

The Anglo-US Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Sub-Commission (the ‘Monuments Men’ organisation) was set up within the military government structures of the Allied armed forces in 1943. Part of its remit was ‘to preserve historic buildings, works of art and historical records…. by [furnishing] the ground and air forces with information as to the location of such monuments’ and to those ends the organisation, supported by largely American civilian agencies, produced a range of what might now be called ‘no-strike’ lists. This paper examines the production and evolution of this documentation by considering themes that are still issues in the production of modern cultural resource inventories. These include:

Production: Who undertook the research for these lists, and how? What were the relative roles of civilian and military personnel in this process?

Formatting: What formats and media were employed, and in what contexts?  These include typescript lists, printed booklets, and annotated maps and aerial photographs.

Data selection: What information was presented in the lists?

Magnitude: How comprehensive were the lists as inventories of cultural property, and how were decisions made over incorporation in, or exclusion from them?

Prioritisation: To what extent were priorities assigned to cultural property within the lists? Who made these decisions and how?

Dissemination: How and to whom within the Allied military structures were the lists distributed?

Reception: How useful and practical did military personnel find the lists?

All of these questions are relevant to the production of comparable lists today, and the experience of the Second World War provides us with valuable lessons in establishing such lists.


Jilda Andrews

Australian National University 

Adding Value to Ethnographic Collections in Australian Museums


Barbara J. Little 

Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland, College Park 

Claiming, Re-claiming and Celebrating Underrepresented Heritage

Civil Society Organizations, governments at all levels, educational and research institutions, and others identify and represent heritage in various and sometimes incompatible ways.  Heritage workers who are concerned about fairness and righting historical wrongs face challenges in assessing what counts as underrepresented heritage and what would count as adequately or appropriately represented heritage.  I will take a broad view of the way that heritage places are represented in the United States to consider the interplay of various organizations, including national cultural institutions and local preservation organizations.  I consider collaboration and competition, different definitions of “underrepresented,” and demographic change.  I consider historical and current civil rights struggles as foundational for opening paths to self-representation. 


Paul A. Shackel

Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland, College Park 

Remembering the Lattimer Massacre: Issues of Labor Justice in Northern Appalachia 

In 1897, immigrant coal miners in Northeastern Pennsylvania went on strike to gain similar wages earned by their white, English speaking co-workers. At a confrontation with the sheriff and his deputies, 25 miners were killed and another 40 were wounded. The Lattimer Massacre, considered one of the major miscarriages of American justice, was quickly forgotten, and disappeared from the national public memory. Today, the incident is missing from many of the major labor history text books and it is not part of the Pennsylvania State curriculum.  Through the efforts of many different stakeholders the subjects that surround Lattimer’s place in history - immigration, income equity, and labor justice – are important topics that are relevant and need to be addressed in the contemporary community.


Sharon Peoples

Australian National University 

Fashioning Heritage

With the exception of 2010 and 2011, each year from 1993 the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders meet and dress in ‘political fancy dress’. It is often referred to as the ‘silly shirt season’. Rather than a ‘parade of nations’, an outfit is designed by the host nation to be worn by each visiting head of state for a formal photograph.

The official pictorial documents are termed ‘family photos’ in the journalist jargon. The dress is deemed to reflect the heritage of the host nation. The aim of this dress is arguably to give a display of solidarity, obscuring the differences between economies and political divergences of the represented countries and states. It could also be conceived that countries are willing to consider an alternative point of view, like walking in another’s shoes (Roces and Edwards 2010: 1). As well there is a dampening of ‘national differences expressed semiotically through the use of national/ethnic dress.’ (Shimatzu 2016)

This paper describes the politics of dress at APEC meetings and looks briefly at the garment worn for the meeting in Sydney, Australian, and more closely at ‘traditional’ clothing designed for the meeting in Bogor (1994) and ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) meeting (2013), Indonesia.


Howard Morphy, Gretchen Stolte, Robyn McKenzie

Australian National University 

Online Cultural Collections Analysis and Management System (OCCAMS) research tool explained

OCCAMS was developed by the Centre for Digital Humanities Research at ANU to meet the specific needs of researchers working with cultural collections. From photographs to film; from paintings to sculptures, and performance—OCCAMS allows researchers to work with and develop data about all kinds of material and intangible culture. In this seminar Professor Howard Morphy, who initiated and oversaw the development of OCCAMS, will explain its origins in the needs of researchers working in visual anthropology, the anthropology of art and related fields. Robyn McKenzie will then situate OCCAMS within the wider landscape of data management systems and data analysis in the digital humanities, in particular focusing on the difference between relational databases and ‘linked data’ systems. Through an examination of projects she is working on in OCCAMS, Gretchen Stolte will conclude the presentation by demonstrating the benefits of the database as a research tool.


Ngarino Ellis The University of Auckland

Māori, Art History and Museum Studies in the 21st century

Abstract: In a climate of New Art History, and New Museology, what does it mean to undertake research into Indigenous art and culture today? What are some of the challenges that need to be addressed? What kinds of conversations need to be articulated? And what does it all mean? This talk will engage with some of these complexities through a discussion of recent and current teaching and research projects. These prioritise working collaboratively across tribes (rather than across cultures), in a way which aims to stimulate important and ongoing discussions in courses, museums, art galleries and other spaces. Significantly, the voices of Indigenous writers, curators, and artists are presented as being the first voice that must be heard and read, rather than mediated through others. This has the potential to transform the writing of and understandings of art histories and Museum Studies on a global scale. Tihei mauriora!

Biography: Dr Ngarino Ellis (Ngāpuhi, Ngati Porou) is a Senior Lecturer in Art History, and Co-ordinator of the Museums and Cultural Heritage Programme at the University of Auckland. She lectures on Indigenous women’s art, Art Crime, Māori art history, and Museum Studies. She has published widely on many facets of Māori art, most recently A Whakapapa of Tradition: One Hundred Years of Ngati Porou Carving, 1830-1930 (2016) with Natalie Robertson (Ngati Porou) which explores the transformation of carved structures in her tribal area. Together with Deidre Brown and Jonathan Mane-Wheoki (both Ngāpuhi), she is currently writing a new book, entitled Toi Te Mana. A History of Indigenous Art in Aotearoa New Zealand which explores, problematises and celebrates art history from Indigenous perspectives. Other projects since 2013 include Indigenous biography, moko signatures, colonial artist Gottfried Lindauer and a collaborative project on Māori personal adornment.


David Fleming, Director, National Museums Liverpool, UK

Can museums change lives?

Bio: David Fleming, OBE MA PhD AMA, became director of National Museums Liverpool (NML) in 2001. Since then he has led a major modernisation of NML, which has resulted in its becoming a leading example of an inclusive museum service with a large and diverse audience.

Since he became Director, NML audiences have more than quadrupled, rising from around 700,000 to more than 3.2 million per year. He has been responsible for the creation of two new museums in Liverpool, the Museum of Liverpool and the International Slavery Museum.

David is current President of the UK Museums Association and Chairman of the MA’s Ethics Committee. He has served on several Government committees and task forces. He is currently Convener of the Social Justice Alliance of Museums (SJAM) Chairman of ICOM's Finance and Resources Committee, Treasurer and Vice President of the European Museum Forum and President of the Federation of International Human Rights Museums (FIHRM). He is Visiting Professor of Museum Studies at Liverpool Hope University, and Special Advisor to the Museum of Democracy in Rosario, Argentina. David is also chairing a body looking at the cultural heritage of Liverpool on behalf of the Mayor of Liverpool.

David has published extensively and has lectured worldwide – most recently in Taiwan, the USA, Brazil, Italy and Ukraine - on museum management and leadership, city history museums, social inclusion, human rights and politics.

Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University

Legacies of Lawlessness: When does Illegality become Heritage?

Robin Hood, Jesse James, Bonnie and Clyde….  There is an infinite list of people whose defiance of state law made them popular heroes, and whose memory is now enshrined as heritage.  The same process perpetuates the image of popular rebellions that become emblematic of national pride.  In this talk, we ask why it is that lawlessness so easily gains heritage status, and what that phenomenon can tell us about the hidden recesses of nation-state organization and ideology – those areas of cultural activity that the speaker has called “the zone of cultural intimacy” and of “the fellowship of the flawed.”


Kerry Wilson

Institute of Cultural Capital, University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, UK


House of Memories is a multi-award winning dementia awareness training programme created by National Museums Liverpool (NML) in the UK. The Institute of Cultural Capital – led by Kerry Wilson – has been researching the impact of House of Memories since 2013. Research has been designed to consider the holistic cross-sector value of House of Memories via standardised measures of subjective wellbeing and professional development outcomes; social network analysis; and social value research methods including social return on investment (SROI). Significant outcomes for participating health and social care workers include enhanced feelings of wellbeing and self-efficacy as carers; increased awareness and understanding of dementia and its implications; skills development including listening, communication and professional empathy; improved capacity for individual and collective critical, reflective care practice; confidence in trying new, creative approaches to dementia care; and increased cultural engagement with museums. The research with NML is also enabling an in-depth exploration of policy-responsive leadership in museums and the organisational conditions and values that drive politically-engaged collaborative cultural work.

Kerry Wilson is Head of Research at the Institute of Cultural Capital, a cultural policy research centre jointly hosted by the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University in the UK.  She has led a number of research and evaluation projects covering varied aspects of cultural work, its value and impact, for a range of commissioning organisations and funding bodies including the British Council, MLA, Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council. Kerry’s research interests, in a cultural sector context, include professional identity; instrumental value and public policy; and collaborative practice. She began her academic career in the library and information management discipline, focusing on the organisational development and social value of public libraries, and continues to prioritise research with library and museum sectors.



Christina Kreps

Director of Museum Studies in Arts and Administration, School of Architecture and Allied Arts, University of Oregon, USA

Anthropology and Museums in the Age of Engagement

The late Michael Ames in his influential book Cannibal Tours and Glass Boxes: The Anthropology of Museums (1992) proclaimed that the museum profession and the discipline of anthropology were in “jeopardy,” and needed to be reformed if they were to play any “useful roles in contemporary democratic society.” Anthropology, he said, “has to change if it is even to survive.”

Five years later, Richard Kurin, in Reflections of a Culture Broker: Views from the Smithsonian (1997) also faulted anthropologists and museums for not being socially relevant and having a stronger public presence. From his perspective, they needed to be doing more to contribute to public understandings of contemporary culture and social issues. Kurin denounced anthropology’s poor track record when it came to addressing issues of broad public concern, writing “indeed, the field as a whole seems to discourage public engagement” and this “portends poorly for the future.”  Kurin pointed out that museums had probably done more than academic anthropology departments in bringing anthropology’s specialized knowledge to the public, yet, he added, that this role had generally been seen as “low-priority service rather than a major responsibility.”

What changes have taken place in anthropology and museums since Ames and Kurin made their justifiable critiques? How have these changes encouraged public engagement and relevancy? What barriers still exist and how might they be overcome?

I envision this seminar as a forum for dialogue around these and related questions. I am especially interested in discussing how the divisions that have historically existed between academic and publically oriented museum anthropology in the United States are contracting around the common interests of engagement; and to what degree, if any, are these questions and historical processes relevant to anthropology and museums in Australia.

Tim Oakes

University of Colorado

Villagizing the city: turning rural ethnic heritage into urban modernity in southwest China

This talk examines the rural ethnic heritage-inspired transformation of the built environment of a relatively small county town in China. The paper explores the ways village-based ethnic heritage is being repositioned by local leaders as a resource for tourism-oriented revenue generation and for ‘improving’ the ‘quality’ and behaviour of town residents. Viewing heritage as a ‘technology of government,’ the paper provides an analysis based on three interrelated themes: the discourses by which town leaders and planners have conceived the heritage development project as one of improvement, the spatial practices by which those discourses have been realised in the built environment, and the ways residents themselves have appropriated and ‘inhabited’ this new ‘villagized’ city as they go about their everyday urban lives. Based on ethnographic field work, a survey, and extended interviews over a period of four years, the paper finds the town leadership’s faith in the ability of the built environment to shape and improve the conduct of citizens to be overstated. While the town’s transformation has generated a new sense of urban modernity among residents, their ways of inhabiting and using urban space have little relevance to the ‘heritagized’ environment in which they now live.


Jacqueline Z. Wilson & Frank Golding

Federation University

Latent scrutiny: Personal archives as perpetual mementos of the official gaze.

This presentations examines the significance, in the lives of those who experienced out-of-home care as children, of the archived records of their institutionalisation. The affective ramifications of accessing the records as adults are discussed, with especial focus on the records’ capacity to revive past suffering. Drawing on the work of Bruner (1991, 1997) and MacIntyre (1981), a ‘narrative’ model of the self is utilised to account for the negative effect of systemic flaws in the records’ original composition. Such flaws, it is argued, have the potential to disrupt the individual’s sense of self.

The authors, who both experienced out-of-home care as children, present their own experiences of accessing the records, as case-studies. The records’ manifold inaccuracies and inadequacies are interpreted in light of prevailing welfare practices, in particular a highly damaging judgemental paradigm of gendered and moralistic assumptions of the inferior character of those in Care.

The presentation will conclude by arguing that research into the archives should involve the direct participation, as ‘insider researchers’, of those who experienced the matters contained in the records. Such participation is essential if the process of revealing and interpreting the archives is to maintain the dignity of the records’ subject-individuals, and ensure the integrity of the research.



Dr Peter Bridgewater (ANU)

Novel ecosystems as future heritage: policy and practice in managing landscapes.

Novel ecosystems are being increasingly recognised as future reality for many .if not all, of our landscapes. Understanding what novel ecosystems are, and how to manage them, or restore them to historical states is a key debate.  Cultural Landscapes, in a nomenclatural sense, are a special sub-set of sites inscribed on the World Heritage List and a concept in Landscape Ecology. It is increasingly evident that all landscapes are cultural and that the term biocultural landscape is a better descriptor. Biocultural landscapes are special and recognisable mixtures of varying forms of human intervention, and policies for managing them should be based on the mix of historical, hybrid and novel ecosystems that form the landscape in question. A key major factor in the identification and maintenance of biocultural landscapes is understanding the world views that have shaped them. Given that some biocultural landscapes are now part of the World Heritage Convention, policies for landscape management should be framed around their present and future heritage value. In the end, the key issue for the future is what policy settings are needed to ensure the survival of biocultural landscapes in the face of environmental homogenisation, as part of the general process of globalisation.

Conversation: what does a museum do?

Professor Howard Morphy (ANU), Dr Matt Trinca (NMA), Dr Gerard Vaughan AM (NGA)


Professor Laurajane Smith (ANU)

Affective experiences: the embodied performances of heritage making.

This seminar will summarise some of the findings of a recently completed project to explore the memory and identity work visitors do at heritage sites and museums in Australia, the United States, and England. Over 4,500 qualitative interviews were undertaken at 45 museums, exhibitions and sites across three countries. The research has documented a range of embodied performances that visitors undertake to affirm and negotiate not only particular historical narratives, but also the social and political values that underpin and inform those narratives. In particular the research, developing the concept of 'registers of engagement' explores the agency of visitors in heritage making and illustrates the ways in which emotions are used by visitors to affirm or rework their commitment to particular understandings of both past and present.


Art in the Time of Colony and the Importance of Being Anachronistic

Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll

Fellow in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, and the Humboldt University in Berlin.

In this lecture Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll presents recent cases of restoration claims from European museum collections to Indigenous communities. The complex biographies of key museum objects exemplify, embody, and refract the tensions of nineteenth-century Australian history. She focuses on how the verbal and visual languages of Aboriginal people had influence upon the classification of scientific, legal, and artistic objects in the metropolises and museums of nineteenth-century colonial powers. The thesis of Art in the Time of Colony is that an anachronistic reading of the colonial archive by contemporary artists works towards a decolonial writing of history in the future. It is based on collaborations with artists such as Julie Gough and Maree Clarke in museum collections in Berlin, Cambridge, Canberra and Melbourne.

Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll is a British Academy Newton Fellow in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. She is the author of ‘Art in the Time of Colony’ (Ashgate, 2014) and is currently working on a monograph about repatriation. Her recent publications include ‘Sartre’s Boomerang: The archive as choreographed ready-made’, ‘The Presence of Absence: Tommy McRae and Judy Watson in Australia, the imaginary grandstand at the Royal Academy in London’ and ‘Living Paint, even after the death of the colony’. She wrote her PhD at Harvard University on ‘Imaging Nation: Colonial History and Contemporary Australian Art’. She is a guest editor of the Discipline journal and of the collection ‘Botanical Drift: Economic Botany and its Plant Protagonists’. Her films have most recently been shown at Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin, Extracity Kunsthal Antwerp and the Irish Film Institute.


Critical making, creativity and play for disruptive heritage practice

Colleen Morgan

University of York, UK

Critical making is a mode of engagement that can challenge and change interpretation and presentation of heritage. Matt Ratto defines critical making as a way to “use material forms of engagement with technologies to supplement and extend critical reconnect our lived experiences with technologies to social and conceptual critique” (Ratto 2011:253). Connected with the concept of play as a mode of experience in cultural heritage, critical making can decenter interpretive authority and bring multiple stakeholders together to experiment creatively with heritage. In this seminar I present projects informed by anthropology, visual and media studies, and digital heritage that reveal the productive connections between theory-driven research and hands-on making. These include the presentation of archaeological sites in the popular virtual worlds of Minecraft and Second Life, explorations of light writing and alternate visualization techniques and the creation of augmented reality through aural interpretive landscapes.


Dr. Marianne Riphagen

Anangu and Tourism at Uluru: Opportunities, Benefits and Impediments

26 October 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the handback of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to its traditional owners, the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people, who collectively identify as Anangu. On the eve of this anniversary, this paper presents key results from three years of ethnographic research within the National Park and nearby Ayers Rock Resort, situated in Yulara. The research, carried out as part of the ARC Project “The Value of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage: Cultural Production and Remote Economies in the Eastern Arnhem Land and the Western Desert”, has principally focused on how Anangu participate in and benefit from mass tourism on their country. Today, I will discuss the much publicised purchase of Ayers Rock Resort by the Indigenous Land Corporation, paying particular attention to the development opportunities this has generated for residents of the local Mutitjulu Community. Furthermore, I elaborate on the economic importance to Anangu of Maruku Arts, a regionally oriented art centre that enables people to make a living through the use of cultural heritage in tourism.


Diana James

Australian National University

Songlines Desert Storm: Community controversy and museum exhibitions

Journalists created a media storm around the Ngintaka Exhibition opening at the South Australian Museum in 2014 claiming they were giving ‘voice to the voiceless’ Indigenous community.  In fact it was the senior Ngintaka Songline custodians who had co-curated the exhibition whose voices they chose to ignore and silence. Whose voice is privileged in community consultation and representation?


Robert Clark 

Working the Forge:  the lives of William Dawes, Watkin Tench and George Worgan.

My thesis is a series of biographical studies of these men and is the first in-depth study of their lives.  Coming from different backgrounds, they were members of the first European settlement of Australia where their lives converged for a brief time as they shared common interests and experiences before again diverging.  The thesis also shows the value of biography as a means of understanding history.  The lives are microhistories from which common themes emerge, providing micro examples of macro influences, movements, and social, political, and economic developments of the period.  Dawes, Tench, and Worgan were not ‘great men’ and their lives were not representative, but their contributions to the development of Britain and its empire during a significant period in history shows how so-called ‘minor lives’ are worthy of investigation.


Imprinted on memory: the artistic print collections of the Imperial War Museum and Australian War Memorial

Alexandra Walton, Australian National University

The artistic print collections of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, and the Imperial War Museum, London, contain many works that offer a critical interpretation of conflict. My thesis presents unique academic research into the history and significance of these two collections, which have not yet been examined. The thesis analyses the main influences on the development of the print collections, including: the vision of individual curators, organisational change within the institutions, the materiality of the prints themselves, and social change. My findings indicate that at key points in the histories of the institutions, print collecting flourished, particularly when prints were in favour in art markets and there were fine art specialists in charge of acquisitions. This thesis places the curator as the creator of the collection, not merely as someone who carries out instructions. At some point in the histories of both collections, prints were acquired as a way to introduce specific narratives and viewpoints into the wider art collection.


Hueiyun Kathy Chen 

An exploration of ethnographical art -- the Paiwanese case.

The objects of my inquiry of this thesis are divided into four categories. Firstly, I explore how Paiwanese social organization and genealogical systems are based on a primogenitary system. Secondly, I examine the representational systems that convey cultural meanings that are in turn encoded in three kinds of material culture. Thirdly, I investigate how artefacts reflect Paiwanese social structure, so as to explore the underlying order that is expressed in certain art forms, and parallels Paiwanese social structure. Fourthly, I explore the aesthetic expression specific to Paiwanese art forms and integrated with wider cultural values. Fifthly, I discuss contemporary art production and tourist art development within their own historical trajectories to reveal changing attitudes towards the production of art objects as well as the changing functions of these artefacts.

This thesis reveals therefore, that artefacts convey meaningful social information through the encoding of different representational systems; that forms of material culture can be structured, and can reflect social organization; that aesthetic attributes can be associated with a cultural value system, and that artefact production can reflect the continuities of historical developments within the Paiwanese group.

Cate Massola

Lirrgarn, Agency & Art in the east Kimberley

This research examines the Warmun community and how its members exert agency and maintain their values, lifestyles and aims through the prism of art. It links three trajectories: the journey of the Warmun Community Collection, the history of adjustment experienced by Warmun people and the unofficial roles of the Warmun Art Centre.

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