Australian Aboriginal Anthropology Today : Critical perspectives from Europe

International symposium

  • Tuesday 22nd to Thursday 24th January 2013
  • 2:30 pm - 7:00 pm on 22nd January
  • 9:30 am - 6:00 pm on 23rd and 24th January
  • Cinema Room

this symposium is in English

The wide circulation of Australian Aboriginal ethnographies during the late 19th and early 20th centuries can be said to have significantly shaped the anthropological study of myth, ritual, kinship, art and hunting and gathering economies. Despite important political changes brought about since the 1960s by indigenous campaigns for the recognition of their land and other related rights, their increasing visibility on national and international stages and their creative adjustments to State and other outside interventions, this intellectual legacy continues to inform much of the scholarship produced by non-Australianist anthropologists in Europe. By contrast in Australia, the practice of anthropology has been profoundly challenged by this highly charged context. Researchers are required to negotiate their positioning according to diverging and ever-shifting political, economic and social agendas while conforming at the same time to ethical standards set by their institutions that evaluate research in terms of its “benefits” for the studied groups. For many anthropologists working in Aboriginal Australia, whose data can be utilized by various corporate interests or potentially subpoenaed in court, the tension between applied and implicated anthropology ultimately raises the question of scientific responsibility.

This symposium, which is the first event of its kind in France, will bring together thirty scholars from Australia, Europe and Northern America, to critically explore the theoretical and empirical underpinnings of Aboriginal anthropology today. The tensions linking Aboriginal cultural activism to anthropological reflexivity, past scientific knowledge to current research, Australian academic traditions to European scholarship, as well as the implications of research politics in the production of anthropological knowledge, will be addressed through five thematic panels which reflect the diversity of current anthropological work in Aboriginal Australia.

Many European anthropologist have contributed to debates in and out of Australia, through long fieldwork involvement with different Aboriginal peoples.

download the program (pdf)