The Indigenous Australian Medicine Project

Post-doctoral research fellow 2022-2024, Deakin University 

The Indigenous Australian medicines project is an Australian Research Council funded project which explores how Australian regulatory systems can better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Knowledge (TK) holders to commercialise their traditional medicine. The project focuses on the case study of the mudjala plant and aims to work with the Kimberley’s Nyikina people to generate new anthropological methods for documenting TK related to traditional medicine, new models for regulating traditional medicinal products, and pharmacological insights into traditional methods of activating the plant. In addition, the expected outcomes include unlocking the significant, untapped potential for Indigenous Australians to benefit from the development of traditional medicine products regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

This project brings together lawyers, anthropologists and biochemists from the Australian National University, the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, and Griffith University with partner organisations Kimberley Land Council (KLC), and Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation (WAC), and Indigenous Research Collaborators from the Nyikina Mangala community. The research is also guided by an Indigenous Advisory Group comprising of Mr John Watson, Ms Annie Milgin, Mr Anthony Watson, Mr Gerry Turpin, Mr Luke Williams, and a KLC representative.

For more information see the project website here.

Forces and frictions of belonging: Land, people, and changing environments in Cape York, Australia

PhD scholar, 2017-2021, University of Sydney NSW

This thesis is an anthropological study of people involved in land management in Cape York Peninsula, Australia. It investigates how this diversity of people come to belong in meaningful ways, examining the multi-layered and intercultural situations in which people form, maintain and transform relationships in changing environments. Contemporary Cape York is a site of complex land-tenure arrangements, political struggles and environmental change. Based on 14 months of field research with settler-descended graziers, Aboriginal traditional owners and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers the thesis investigates how these diverse groups of people articulate, value and experience their social, cultural and practical connections to land. By attending to non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal traditional owners, the analysis grapples with the friction of intercultural engagement in the region. A key argument is that social and cultural differences between groups of people are not fixed or stable. Instead, through various kinds of interactions, social differentiation and cultural norms and practices are re-worked, making an indeterminate space of intercultural encounter that can result in both new forms of difference and inequality, and, importantly, partially shared environmental knowledges, practices and ways of relating to land. Developing the analytical concepts of intercultural mediation and friction, this thesis thus examines how forms of belonging and difference are enacted, experienced and transformed relationally. It contends that relationships to land and forms of belonging are mediated by property rights, manual labour, conservation initiatives, bureaucratic interventions, cattle, fire, seasonality, climate change and invasive species. In the interactions and contingent collaborations among people as well as between people and more-than-human forces, meaningful relationships to land are continually co-produced and reworked. This ethnographic study contributes to a growing body of scholarly work in anthropology and related disciplines that attend to the details of intercultural and multispecies relationships, and to questions of human and non-human belonging in settler-colonial states.

I am currently reworking this thesis into a book manuscript.

I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the stolen-never-ceded lands I live, work, and think on, the Wurundjeri people.