Presenter Biographies

Georgia Curran

Department of Anthropology

In 2002 I moved to Bourke in western NSW to work for Muda Aboriginal Corporation. I spent two years developing language resources for the Wangkumara language and I also worked on developing oral histories with the older generation of Wangkumara people. In collaboration with younger Wangkumara language workers and teachers I developed a working dictionary and grammar.
My PhD fieldwork took me to the Aboriginal settlement of Yuendumu in Central Australia and my thesis (2010) was entitled Contemporary Ritual Practice in an Aboriginal Settlement: the Warlpiri Kurdiji Ceremony. I have held several consultancy and casual teaching positions as well as focusing on the preparation of a monograph. 2012 I received funding from Indigenous Languages Support and Northern Territory Arts Board to compile a series of audio-books which detail the rich knowledge encoded in the language and performance of Warlpiri women’s songs. The first of these entitled Warlpiri women’s Jardiwanpa yawulyu will be published later this year.



Ella Dilkes-Frayne

Social Sciences and Health Research Unit School of Psychology and Psychiatry; Monash University

Ella Dilkes-Frayne was awarded Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Criminology from the University of Melbourne. Èlla is currently undertaking her PhD at Monash University. Her research focuses on licensed venues and music event settings and the role they play in youth illicit drug use.



Luis Fernando Angosto Ferrández

Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies / Department of Anthropology


I completed my PhD in Social Anthropology at Queen’s University of Belfast, with a thesis that, articulating scholarly enquiry around the concepts of ethnicity, citizenship and indigenous political organisation, examined the relations between the Venezuelan state and indigenous peoples in the context of the Bolivarian political process. My current research analyses, from a comparative perspective, the relationships between indigenous peoples and the state in Latin America, and particularly in countries where state reform is adopting socialist leanings (including Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua). In this research there is a concern with studying, from an anthropological perspective, individual and collective political agency in power struggles that are structured through discourses of ethnicity (particularly around the concept of ‘indigeneity’) and race. Beyond scholarly enquiry, this analysis is also undertaken as the grounding of thought and discussion that, in applied terms, envisages ways of strengthening civic forms of cohabitation and democratic organisation in the contemporary polis.



Natasha Fijn

College of Arts and Social Sciences, Australian National University

Natasha Fijn is a College of the Arts and Social Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Australian National University. Her research encompasses the ecological humanities and within anthropology, the exciting subdisciplines of visual anthropology and human-animal studies. Her field sites have been based in the Khangai Mountains of Mongolia and Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia. For her current postdoctoral research, she is exploring the connections between Yolngu and significant totemic animals through the medium of film and photography.



Lucy Fiske

Centre for Human Rights Education, Curtin University

Lucy is a lecturer at the Centre for Human Rights Education, Curtin University and currently seconded to the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney. Lucy’s primary area of research is in refugee studies with a particular focus on refugee voices and the implications of lived experiences for human rights theory, law and practice.



Don Gardner

University of Sydney / Australian National University

Don Gardner is currently a visitor at U. Sydney. Until recently, when he retired, he worked for both the Australian National University (1982-2010) and the University of Lucerne (2008-2012). He has conducted long-term field research among Mian speakers of PNG and has focused on issues in social theory, especially the philosophical dimensions of the social sciences.



Alex Gearin

School of Social Science, University of Queensland

Alex Gearin is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Queensland undertaking ethnographic research in Australia on the emergent neoshamanism movement ayahuasca. The study is focused on issues of health, the body, and cosmology. His B.A. thesis (La Trobe Uni) explores discourse on Amerindian ontologies and the ritual context of indigenous ayahuasca shamanism in the Amazon. He is currently writing-up his Ph.D.



Aaron Hart

Victoria University and Curtin University

Aaron Hart teaches Social Research at Victoria University and is a PhD candidate at Curtin University. His thesis is a Science and Technology Studies informed ethnographic study of heavy sessional drinking among disadvantaged young adults in an outer northern Melbourne suburb. Aaron has worked as a researcher for a number of Australian welfare NGOs and has published in the homelessness field.



Christopher Howard

Department of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University

I have an interdisciplinary background in history, philosophy, linguistics and anthropology. My recently submitted doctoral thesis was based on an ethnographic study of contemporary tourism and pilgrimage in the Himalayan region. This research stemmed from more general interests in mobility, globalization and spirituality in relation to modernization processes. Presently, I am teaching ‘Bridging the Social Sciences’ at Massey University, Auckland. Along with anthropological and social theory, I am interested in phenomenology, the body, technology and ecology.



Cynthia Hunter

Sydney School of Public Health and Department of Anthropology, University of Sydney

Dr Cynthia Hunter (PhD) is a medical anthropologist and senior lecturer in the Department of Anthropology, School of Social and Political Sciences, and in International Public Health, School of Public Health at the University of Sydney. Cynthia teaches in two Masters programmes, International Public Health, and Development Studies.  Her research interests include illness and healing ethnographies and hospital ethnographies. She has worked in the Asia-Pacific, (Papua New Guinea) and Indonesia where she lived and conducted ethnographic research of village folk’s access to health care. Recent research has focused on failed asylum seekers and forced migration; hospital ethnographies of clinicians’ interactions in everyday life and most recently a community response to avian influenza in Bali and Lombok, Indonesia, funded by the World Health Organization (WHO).



Ian Keen

School of Anthropology and Archaeology

Australian National University

After working in the visual arts, Ian Keen studied anthropology at University College London (BSc 1973) and the Australian National University (PhD 1979). He has conducted anthropological fieldwork in various parts of Australia, and is the author of Knowledge and Secrecy in an Aboriginal Religion (Clarendon Press 1994), and Aboriginal Economy and Society  (Oxford 2004), as well as many articles in journals and edited books. His research interests have included Yolngu kinship and religion, Aboriginal land rights and native title, Aboriginal economy, Aboriginal kinship systems, and language and sociality. He is currently a Visiting Fellow and member of the Emeritus Faculty at the Australian National University.



Grant McCall

Department of Anthropology, University of Sydney

Grant McCall has researched and taught anthropology at various universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, New South Wales, South Pacific, Copenhagen, California at Berkeley, Chile, Australian National and Provence, as well as having been a visitor for various periods of time at other places. My first research and writing was about migrant populations, especially the Basques in the Americas, but my abiding interest has been in the peoples and cultures of the Pacific Islands, with a concentration on the eastern part of that vast region. I have supervised research students on a diversity of topics from water policy to missionary development in Samoa; from environmental theory to ethnicity in Fiji; from demographics and youth development on Rapanui to photographic images of colonialism. I regard the interactive passing on of knowledge as being core to academic work. My future writing plans include three single-authored monographs and the occasional article.



Fiona McKeague

Griffith University

Since graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from Griffith University, Fiona has gone on to work in many fields ranging from archaeology and heritage consultancy to sustainable tourism.

Her background in the humanities and social sciences has led to her contribution to several higher education projects related to sustainability, including energy efficiency, community engagement, distributed leadership, curriculum renewal, and teaching and learning. She is currently writing her honours dissertation.



Zevic Mishor

Department of Anthropology, University of Sydney

Zevic Mishor was born in Sydney, and grew up both there and in Jerusalem, Israel. He is now writing his thesis for a doctorate of anthropology at the University of Sydney, having just returned from a year of fieldwork in the town of Safed, in the Galillee region of northern Israel. Zevic’s academic background was originally in neuroscience, but a deep interest in philosophy, and a desire to explore the structure of reality and being at different levels, led him to anthropology. Key areas of interest and research include metaphysics, the religious and spiritual traditions of the world, and psychedelic drugs and altered states of consciousness.



Lorraine Mortimer

Department of Anthropology, University of Sydney

Lorraine Mortimer is a teacher and researcher in the fields of cinema, sociology, and anthropology. She is the translator of Edgar Morin’s The Cinema, or The Imaginary Man: An Essay in Sociological Anthropology (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005), and the author of Terror and Joy: The Films of Dušan Makavejev (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009), which has been translated into Serbian as Teror i radost: filmovi Dušana Makavejeva (Belgrade: Clio and The Faculty of Dramatic Art, Belgrade, 2012). She is an Honorary Associate in the Department of Anthropology at Sydney University.



John Morton

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

John Morton has worked in the fields of Aboriginal studies and Amazonian ethnography for almost 40 years. Until recently, he taught anthropology and Aboriginal studies at La Trobe University in Melbourne, where he is currently an honorary research associate. He now works as an independent consultant anthropologist. He has published widely, including a suite of journal articles and book chapters on Aboriginal and Amazonian ethnography and on anthropological theory. He has also authored many reports relating to Aboriginal land rights, native title and other matters. He is the co-editor of three books – Géza Róheim’s Children of the Desert II (with Werner Muensterberger), Scholar and Sceptic (with Francesca Merlan and Alan Rumsey), and The Photographs of Baldwin Spencer (with Philip Batty and Lindy Allen).



Stephen Muecke

School of the Arts and Media, University of New South Wales

Stephen Muecke is moving to a new position as Professor of Ethnography at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. Recent books are Butcher Joe, Documenta 13: 100 Notizen – 100 Gedanken Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern, 2011 and Contingency in Madagascar, with photographer Max Pam, in Intellect Books’ Critical Photography Series, 2012



Gillian Paxton

UQ School of Social Science/Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies

With qualifications in both the social and environmental sciences, Gillian is currently completing a PhD at the University of Queensland looking at the common wild animals that occur, and at times flourish, in Brisbane in association with urban practices and changing landscapes. Taking a ‘more-than-human’ approach, the PhD explores how humans and these animals live together in urban space and how the relationship is mediated conceptually, materially and institutionally.


Geir Henning Presterudstuen

School of Social Sciences and Psychology, University of Western Sydney

Geir Henning Presterudstuen is an Early Career Researcher and lecturer at the School of Social Sciences and Psychology at the University of Western Sydney. His PhD in Anthropology, on “Masculinity, Manhood and Tradition in Contemporary Fiji”, was awarded in 2011, and his current research work focuses on processes of gendered identification and bodily practices in postcolonial settings, the changing conceptions of the human body and economic anthropology at the interface of notions of tradition and modernity.



Jill Sweeney

University of Newcastle

Jill Sweeney earned her PhD in Human Geography from the University of Newcastle, NSW in 2011. Her thesis explored post-humanist theory using the Southern Ocean as a focal point, and looked particularly at the use of social and news media in negotiating our experiences of place, and the lively and challenging more-than-human world in which we live. Currently she is contributing to work by Dr Lesley Instone (University of Newcastle) examining the place of companion animals and human—animal cohabitation within urban environments.



David Trigger

School of Social Sciences, University of Queensland

David Trigger is Professor of Anthropology and Head of School of Social Science at The University of Queensland. His research interests encompass the different meanings attributed to land and nature across diverse sectors of society. His research on Australian society includes projects focused on a comparison of pro-development, environmentalist and Aboriginal perspectives on land and nature. In Australian Aboriginal Studies, Professor Trigger has carried out more than 35 years of anthropological study on Indigenous systems of land tenure, including applied research on resource development negotiations and native title. He is the author of more than 60 major applied research reports and has acted as an expert witness in multiple native title claims and associated criminal matters involving Aboriginal customary law. Professor Trigger is the author of Whitefella comin’: Aboriginal responses to colonialism in northern Australia (Cambridge University Press) and a wide range of scholarly articles. His most recent book is a co-edited cross-disciplinary collection titled: Disputed territories: land, culture and identity in settler societies (Hong Kong University Press).



Thom van Dooren

Environmental Humanities; University of New South Wales


Thom van Dooren is a lecturer in Environmental Humanities at the University of New South Wales and co-editor of the journal Environmental Humanities. His research focuses on ethical and philosophical issues in the context of species extinction, a topic explored in detail in Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction (Columbia University Press, 2014).



Eve Vincent

New York University, Sydney

Eve recently completed her PhD in Anthropology at Sydney University. She lectures at NYU Sydney.



Carsten Wergin

Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales

Carsten Wergin (Dr. phil.) is a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany. He works on tourism and the resources boom, Australian Indigenous culture, heritage and related transcultural connectivities in the Indian Ocean region. Recent publications include the Special Section “Songlines vs. Pipelines? Mining and Tourism Industries in Remote Australia” for Australian Humanities Review (with Stephen Muecke, 2012) and the co-edited volume Musical Performance and the Changing City (with Fabian Holt, Routledge 2013). He currently holds a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship at the Social Policy Research Centre, University of NSW, Sydney.