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The Australian National University


Staff & Visiting Fellows


Melinda Hinkson (Coordinator, Centre for Visual Anthropology)

My interests in visual anthropology and visual culture are informed by ethnographic research with Warlpiri people in central Australia on various aspects of their media practice and cultural production, research with painters in Canberra, as well as a wider interest in interrogating contemporary cultural attitudes to images. I convene the Master of Liberal Arts program in Visual Culture Research and teach various courses in anthropology and visual culture at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. I am currently working on a project with ethnomusicologist Stephen Wild exploring the significance of a collection of drawings made by Warlpiri people in the 1950s, and considering interpretations of and responses to those drawings in the present. More >

John Carty

My research is, in different ways, a kind of dialogue between the disciplines of anthropology and art history; but my passion is Australian desert art. Having conducted my PhD research with the Balgo artists of the Western Desert, I've worked on several other projects with Aboriginal artists around Central Australia, the Pilbara and the Kimberley. My emphasis in recent years has been on illuminating the formal analysis of artworks with oral histories from artists themselves. I've done this on a small scale with Martu artists such as Yunkurra Billy Atkins, and more broadly in producing a local art history with the Ngaanyatjarra artists of Central Australia. The most public expression of this work has been the exhibition, Yiwarra Kuju: the Canning Stock Route, which opened at the National Museum of Australia in 2010. I was the anthropologist on that project and co-curator of the exhibition; an experience that opened my eyes to the possibilities of bringing the insights of visual anthropology to bear on the display of Aboriginal art in our state institutions. More>


Jane Ferguson

Jane M. Ferguson is a Lecturer on Mainland Southeast Asia in the School of Culture, History and Languages at the ANU. Her dissertation, Rocking in Shanland: Histories and Popular Culture Jams at the Thai-Burma Border in an ethnography of popular culture production and re-signification carried out by Shan insurgents and their affiliates in their ongoing struggle not only against the Burmese military, but also with political and economic marginalization by the Thais. She also has an article, "Another Country is the Past," on the aesthetics of country music as played and understood by Northern Thai Musicians, and, among other endeavours, is currently working on a project researching the social history of the Burmese motion picture industry.

Natasha Fijn

Natasha is a ANU College of the Arts and Social Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow within the School of Archaeology and Anthropology from 2011-2014. Natasha is involved in the Masters of Visual Culture Research Programme, coordinating the Masterclasses in Ethnographic Film course with Pip Deveson. Natasha and Melinda Hinkson are also teaching a new undergraduate course entitled Visual Anthropology in a Digital World, encouraging students to use current technology, such as mobile phones and handycams, to record visual material. More>



Louise Hamby

Louise is a Lecturer in the Masters of Liberal Arts Museums and Collections Graduate Program. Her research areas combine the fields of anthropology and art. She holds an MFA in Fabric Design from the University of Georgia and a PhD in anthropology. She is currently working on an ARC Discovery Grant: Contexts of Collection- a dialogic approach to understanding the making of the material record of Yolngu cultures (2008-2011). Louise has a strong interest in historic and contemporary material culture from Arnhem Land. Her involvement with eastern Arnhem Land women lead to the development of the exhibition that she co-curated with Diana Young, Art on a String. Her involvement in curation, research and writing is evident in her last two Arnhem Land projects. The western Arnhem Land fibre project resulted in the touring exhibition and book called Twined Together: Kunmadj Njalehnjaleken. Her current travelling exhibition is Women with Clever Hands: Gapuwiyak Miyalkurruwurr Gong Djambatjamla. Her most recent book is Containers of Power: Women with Clever Hands. More >

Ariel Heryanto

Ariel is the sole Chief Investigator of two Discovery ARC grants (2009-2012) on identity politics, Indonesian popular cultures and media. His interests revolve around issues of cultural signifying practices, especially the everyday politics of identity and representation. He is interested in the study of semantic history (key words), discourse analysis, media, popular culture, ethnicity, nationality, hybridity, and diasporas. Although Indonesia is the country he knows best, he is keen on comparative studies especially among the neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia. More>

Diana James

My research focus is on the dynamic visual and auditory performance space of cross-cultural communication between Aboriginal and Western peoples. My approach is informed by many years of living with Anangu peoples of the APY Lands who have generously shared their art, song, story and performance of kinship relatedness to places of their spirit, their ngura walytja. Visual anthropology offers the most flexible and accessible methodology through the use of film and digital media to record the holistic Indigenous sense of place. I am currently working collaboratively with the elders, artists, dancers and singers of the APY, Ngaanyatjarra and Martu Lands on an ARC Linkage Project Songlines of the Western Desert. The relevance today of the vibrant oral song cycle tradition will be captured in interconnected image, sound and art by the younger generation who will record traditional knowledge with modern multi-media equipment.

Gary Kildea

Gary Kildea was born in Sydney, Australia.  He started his working life in a film studio as a sound assistant.  He later moved into editing, working on commercials,  dramatic features and documentaries.  In the early '70s he moved to Papua New Guinea taking a job as a director/cinematographer for the national film unit.  In 1975 he travelled to England and studied drama film direction at the National Film School of Great Britain.  After that he returned to Australia and worked on a series of independent documentaries in the Asia/Pacific region.  He came to the Australian National University in Canberra in the mid 80's to work in its Ethnographic Film Unit.  He continues to work at the ANU and as an independent documentary filmmaker.  In recent years he has also taught filmmaking in the Visual Cultural Studies program at the University of Tromsø, Norway.  Some of his films as director are:  The Great Chimbu Pig Festival (1972);  Concerning the Lives of the People (1973); Trobriand Cricket - an ingenious response to colonialism (1975); Ileksen (1978);  Celso and Cora - a Manila story (1984); Valencia Diary (1991); Man of Strings (1999);  Koriam's Law (2005).

Nigel Lendon

Nigel teaches in the postgraduate program at the ANU School of Art. He is an Associate Professor and Affiliate Fellow in the Research School of the Humanities and the Arts. He has worked as an artist, art historian and curator in the fields of minimalist, conceptual art and photography, with a particular interest in the relation between tradition and innovation with a focus on collaborative and interdisciplinary and cross-cultural practices. For the last twenty years he has focused on the history and theory of Indigenous art in Australia and Afghanistan. Together with Professor Tim Bonyhady he holds an ARC Discovery grant to research the war art of Afghanistan. More>



David MacDougall

David is a documentary and ethnographic filmmaker and writer on cinema. His first major film was To Live With Herds, winner of the Grand Prix ‘Venezia Genti’ at the Venice Film Festivsl in 1972. Since then he has made films in Africa, Australia, Europe and India, many with Judith MacDougall, including the “Turkana Conversations” trilogy and Photo Wallahs (1991). His most recent films are studies of children’s institutions in India, including the five films of the Doon School series (2000-2004), SchoolScapes (2007) and Gandhi’s Children (2008), a study of a shelter for homeless children in New Delhi. He is the author of numerous aricles and two books: Transcultural Cinema (1998) and The Corporeal Image: Film, Ethnography, and the Senses (2006). He is presently Adjunct Professor at the Research School of Humanities and the Arts. More >


Judith MacDougall

Judith studied fine arts as an undergraduate and completed an MFA in film at the University of California.  She has made more than a dozen documentary films on cross-cultural subjects. These have been shown widely at festivals, several receiving major awards, including Best Film at Cinéma du Réel and the Film Prize of the Royal Anthropological Institute. She has made films in East Africa, Australia, India, and most recently, China. With her husband David MacDougall, she produced the “Turkana Conversations” trilogy on semi-nomadic camel herders of northwestern Kenya, comprising The Wedding Camels (1977), Lorang’s Way (1979), and A Wife Among Wives (1981). In Australia she made a number of films on indigenous communities, including The House-Opening (1980). She went on to make the RAI prize-winning film Diya (2001) and The Art of Regret (2007) on photographic practices in Kunming, southwest China. Awareness (2010), made with David MacDougall, is her most recent film.  She has taught ethnographic film at universities in the USA, Europe, China, and Australia. Her current research interests include exploring new ways of using visual media to conduct research on the relationship of people to their environments and material culture. She is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Research School of Humanities and the Arts. More>


Howard Morphy

In his career Howard has moved between Museums and Universities: researching and curating collections, and organising exhibitions. He has conducted extensive fieldwork with the Yolngu people of Northern Australia, and collaborated on many films with Ian Dunlop of Film. He has published widely in the anthropology of art, aesthetics, performance, museum anthropology, Aboriginal social organization, the history of anthropology, visual anthropology and religion. Howard's main fieldwork has been with the Yolngu people of northeast Arnhem Land (Yirrkala) beginning in 1974-76, with subsequent research visits continuing to the present. He has also worked among the Ngalakan people of the Roper Valley, in 1980-81 and again in 1998. In 1983 he spent 6 months in Darwin researching the public response to Aboriginal art. In 1988 he spent two months in the field in Central Arnhem Land (at Ramingining and Maningrida).  More >


Robert Nugent

Rob is a documentary film maker. He has just finished making a bespoke locust film called Memoirs of a Plague which examines man's relationship with nature though the eyes of locust hunters.






Nicolas Peterson

My interest in visual anthropology began during collaboration with film director Roger Sandall working as the anthropologist on eleven ethnographic films made for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies as it then was.  Subsequently I have focused on still photography, co-editing ‘Photography’s Other Histories’ with Chris Pinney (Duke 2003; see link to other publications) and am currently working on a joint ARC grant in which I am looking at the still photography of Ian Dunlop on an early excursion into the western desert. I teach a graduate course on ‘Photography in Social Context’.  More>



Catherine Summerhayes

Cathie's major research areas are in documentary film studies and new media theory and performance. In 2004, she convened and directed AD - Art of the Documentary: a combined  international conference, film competition for emerging filmmakers and film festival at the National Museum of Australia, ScreenSound, the National Gallery of Australia. Her work has recently been published in several national and international journals and anthologies, including her major article, 'Haunting Secrets - Tracey Moffatt's beDevil' which was published in the Fall 2004 issue of the University of California's film studies journal Film Quarterly Vol. 58:1. Her monograph on Moffatt's films, The Moving Images of Tracey Moffatt was published by Charta Edizione, Milan in September 2007.  Cathies is currently a Lecturer in Film and New Media Studies and Graduate Advisor in Film and New Media Studies.
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Katerina Teaiwa

Katerina has a background in Anthropology and Pacific Islands Studies and her original research at the ANU was produced in digital film and text. Her research looks at the histories of phosphate mining in the central Pacific. She focuses on the movement of Banaban rock and the complex relations created by the mining, shipping, production and consumption of superphosphate and ensuing commodities. She also studies the ways in which indigenous Banabans make sense of this history in their new home of Rabi Island in Fiji. She is currently transforming this research into a monograph titled Consuming Ocean Island.  Her Banaba work has inspired a permanent exhibition at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which tells the story of phosphate mining in the Pacific through Banaban dance and film. Renowned New Zealand sculptor Brett Graham also transformed Katerina’s research into a multi-media installation, Kainga Tahi, Kainga Rua, ( exhibited at the Adam Art Gallery in Wellington in 2003 and Moving Image Centre in Auckland in 2007. Katerina also writes on and has taught courses on popular culture and consumption, globalization, women's studies, contemporary Pacific dance, and Pacific diasporas. She is interested in the cultural, economic and political relations within and between island regions and from 2003-07 was a member of the Islands of Globalization ( project team in Honolulu which connected the Pacific and the Caribbean through popular, policy and pedagogy projects. She is currently working on a new 5-year project called Indigenous Peoples and the Global Remix through a fellowship with the Framing the Global research and publishing program based at Indiana University. More>


Updated: 19 August 2014/ Responsible Officer:  Head of School / Page Contact:  Web Publisher