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Upcoming workshop. Practice and Practicality: anthropology in Indigenous Australia

5 July, 2007

In the wake of the recent discussion generated about the Little Children are Sacred report and the subsequent government reaction, members of the Australian Anthropological Society have arranged a workshop about anthropology and indigenous Australia.

One of the main points of the workshop is to question what the practical limits of anthropology in both its “applied” and “engaged” modes might be. Seems like a very important discussion to be having at the moment, and although I won’t be able to attend myself I would be very interested to know what is discussed. Maybe I can find someone who would be willing to provide a summary of the day’s papers and discussions…

Here is the description of the workshop:

9am – 5pm, Monday October 29

Workshop organisers: David Martin, Ben Smith, Kevin Murphy & Kati Ferro

This workshop will be held ahead of the AAS conference in Canberra. It aims to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas around anthropological practice about, with, and for Australian Indigenous people. It aims to transcend the ‘applied’ – ‘academic’ divide, but is specifically focused on those forms of anthropological practice which seek to have ‘practical’ effects. The conference theme is particularly appropriate given recent events regarding Indigenous affairs in the Northern Territory.

The workshop will consist of four interrelated sessions.

  • The limits of and on anthropological practice
  • “Making a difference” – intentions and effects
  • Communicating anthropology
  • Can anthropology speak to the Indigenous condition? In what contexts? And to whom?

Each session will be of 90 minutes duration, and involve no more than three presentations. While presentations may be based on written and pre-circulated papers, to allow adequate time for discussion each will be limited to an absolute maximum of 15 minutes. However, while time is limited, in keeping with our theme we encourage diversity in positions, subject matter and modes of presentation. For example, we would suggest people consider jointly developing panel presentations for all or part of any of the four sessions, which could involve shorter presentations by panel members, and potentially more time for audience participation. A panel presentation could be for an hour, for instance, or for the full 90 minutes.

In the first instance, we are calling for expressions of interest for presentations or panels. Each expression of interest should consist of:

  • The session in which the presentation would be located;
  • Presenter or panel members;
  • Presentation or panel title;
  • A short abstract of no more than 250 words (300 in the case of panels)

For more information, go the conference page at, and follow the links to the Indigenous workshop.

Hope to see you there!

Dave Martin


David Martin

Executive Member

Australian Anthropological Society

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