Sky Country: Our Connection to the Cosmos

Sky Country: Our Connection to the Cosmos

Opening event:
11 May 6.30 – 8.30pm

11 – 28 May 2017

Blak Dot Gallery. Saxon Street, Brunswick

Opening Times:
Thursday – Saturday 12pm-5pm
Sunday 12pm – 4pm

Curated by:
Kate ten Buuren (Curator)
Adam Ridgeway (Assistant Curator)

This show will bring together eight Indigenous artists to transform Blak Dot Gallery into an ethereal space, which will express our ongoing connection with sky country, in all its wisdom, beauty and mystery.

Focusing on Aboriginal peoples continuing connection with the night sky, the show will depict each artist’s connection with the cosmos.

The show has been inspired by Monash Country Lines Archive project, in which stories from the Dreaming have been transformed into animations. These animations link the oral method of storytelling, language reclamation, tradition and creation together.

This upcoming show will focus on the Taungurung tale Winjara Wiganhanyin (Why we all die), in which the moon looses his power to bring humans back from the dead.


MISC researchers contribute to new Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence

Monash Indigenous Studies Centre (MISC) Associate Professor Bruno David, Professor Ian McNiven and Professor Lynette Russell are contributing to a new national research project, The Australia Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage.

Associate Professor Bruno David , Professor Ian McNiven and Professor Lynette Russell are members of the Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, an initiative which will see researchers from institutions around the world embark on a seven-year, $45.7-million research quest to investigate the beginning of Australia’s unique biodiversity and Indigenous heritage, while inspiring Australian children to engage with science.

Launching in 2017, it will bring together 20 institutions and museums worldwide to unlock the history of Australia, Papua New Guinea and eastern Indonesia from 130,000 years ago until the time of European arrival.

The first of its kind in the world, the Centre will encourage budding young scientists through a unique outreach program at schools and museums throughout Australia, and will focus on nurturing the careers of Indigenous and female researchers.

It will comprise seven Australian universities – the University of Wollongong as a co-ordinating institution, Monash University, James Cook University, the University of New South Wales, the Australian National University, the University of Adelaide and the University of Tasmania – together with leading organisations in public education and engagement, including the Australian Museum, Queensland Museum, South Australian Museum and the State Library of New South Wales.

The Centre represents a unique integration of multidisciplinary expertise, bringing together researchers from humanities and social sciences, such as archaeology, and Indigenous and museum studies, with scholars from science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines – including Earth and climate sciences, ecology and genetics.

The funds will support around 40 new research positions and more than 50 new research students over the lifetime of the Centre.

Congratulations to the MISC researchers and also to the staff in the Arts Research and Business Development Office who supported this application.


Memory codes and Indigenous knowledge


Pleiades Visions: Cultural Astronomy, Music, and Creativity


Drawing Life: Warlpiri lines on a changing world


Literary Commons!

Writing Australia-India in the Asian century with Dalit, Indigenous and Multilingual Tongue

Download the Literary Commons! flyer (pdf).

An open-to-public, free event brought to you by Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Playing upon the old idea of the ‘commons’ where communities and cultures share in a co-operative space of creativity, as well as building upon much that is common between our worldviews, Literary Commons! is a long-term and deep-impact project that brings together writers and fosters literary exchanges that are of especial relevance to Australia and India: First Nations/Indigenous and bhasha/Dalit/tribal literatures.

Dalit and tribal literature is at the cutting-edge of contemporary Indian writing and opens up a fascinating world of story-telling in the 24 bhashas, or recognised languages of India (including English).

For the first time, a dozen Dalit and tribal writers are visiting Australia for an intimate engagement with fellow Indigenous writers and with anyone interested in powerful literature that imagines a new world for humanity.

This program is brought to you by Monash Asia Institute and Monash Indigenous Centre at Monash University. The project is supported by Melbourne’s UNESCO City of Literature Office, the City of Melbourne and the National Organising Committee for Regional Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (Sydney 2013).

Come discover this world with us. Check our website for program details.

Please register here for this event
Further enquieries:

Date & Time:
1st April 9:00am to 4:00pm
2nd April: 10:00 am-5:00pm

The Library at the Docks
107 Victoria Harbour Promenade
Docklands VIC

CRICOS provider: Monash University 00008C


From Story to 3D Animation: Preserving Indigenous knowledge through the Monash Country Lines Project

Last year, a group of academics and staff working on the Monash Country Lines Archive  gave a presentation on their work at the ATALM (Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums) Conference in Washington DC.

The Monash Country Lines Archive (MCLA) is a collaborative Monash University project between the Monash Indigenous Centre (MIC), Monash Arts and the Faculty of Information Technology with a team of Monash researchers, digital animators and post-graduate students. The Country Lines project aims to assist Indigenous Australian communities in the preservation of stories, knowledge, language and history through animation, and to maintain this knowledge across generations. 

You can watch the presentations from John Bradley, Shannon Faulkhead and Brent Mckee below, or visit the MCLA website to see the animations and learn more about the project.

From Story to 3D Animation

Brent McKee, Visual Animator

Full Presentation

Find out more:


Useful websites for Australian Indigenous Studies

Monash sites

Making a difference to Indigenous communities

Any Monash student interested in working directly on projects in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities should contact the Voluntary Service to Indigenous Communities Foundation.

External sites

These websites contain information and resources relevant to Australian Indigenous Studies.


A Pictorial Overview of Jawoyn Rock Art

Robert ‘ben’ Gunn

Wednesday 25th March, 2015

seminar-ben-gunn-featureIn 2005 the Jawoyn Association, Katherine, instigated a project to record the rock art sites within the Jawoyn Lands of western Arnhem Land. The Jawoyn Rock Art Project (2005-2012) began with the recording and assessment of rock art sites that were threatened by tourist development within Nitmiluk National Park. This was followed by an initial assessment of the number, range and quality of the rock art from a sample 38 sites at eight widely separated site complexes within the Jawoyn Lands. The art was found to be some of the most spectacular rock art in Australia. The range of artwork also suggested that Jawoyn rock art had ongoing associations both with the Kakadu art to the north and with the Wardaman art to the west, while also developing a number of its own regional styles.

Robert ‘ben’ Gunn has worked for over 35 years as a consultant archaeologist, specialising in the recording and management of Australian Aboriginal rock art.

Download the flyer to read more about this seminar (PDF)


Language Preservation and 3D Animations: Monash Country Lines Archive

A/Prof John Bradley, Mr Brent McKee and Dr Shannon Faulkhead

Wednesday 18th March 2015

seminar-countrylines-featureThe Monash Country Lines Archive (MCLA) is working with 3D animation as a method for intergenerationalknowledge sharing, keeping language alive, and to reconnect language and its people. Through the development of partnerships with Indigenous communities across Australia, MCLA  is using cutting edge 3D animation technologies to assist in the preservation of their knowledge and language. These animations provide material for Elders and younger generations to share knowledge. The affective responses to seeing technology re-represent back to them stories that have deep cultural resonances, has resulted in growing interest worldwide.

Download the flyer to read more about this seminar (PDF)


Aboriginal Activism and the Aborigines Advancement League

Professor Richard Broome

Wednesday 11th March, 2015

seminar-broome-featureRichard Broome was born and educated in Sydney, where he graduated with first class honours from UNSW and a PhD from the University of Sydney. He tutored at the University of Sydney and Melbourne University and lectured at La Trobe University for thirty years, interrupted only by a six year career as a public historian.

He has been a passionate teacher not only of university students but has lectured for forty years to secondary school history students and written two texts for VCE students. He has won university, industry and national awards for his teaching which has always attempted to place students at the centre of learning and to engage them in the excitement of making historical knowledge. He has been passionate too about postgraduate education serving in leadership roles at Department, Faculty and University level and supervising numerous students.

Download the flyer to read more about this seminar (PDF)


2014 Future Justice Prize awarded to John Bradley

john-bradley-prizeAssociate Professor John Bradley of the Monash Indigenous Centre has won the 2014 Future Justice Prize, awarded to Australian individuals or organisations for leadership and initiative in the advancement of future justice, which is concerned with what those living today leave behind for future generations.

This award recognises the excellent work John has done in retrieving and preserving Indigenous language and culture, especially through his innovative animations: Monash Country Lines Archives

Showcasing current research and Interdisciplinary potential


mic-seminars-logoProf Lynette Russell
Prof Ian McNiven
Assoc Prof John Bradley
Assoc Prof Maryrose Casey
Dr Bruno David
Dr Liam Brady
Dr Jeremy Ash
Dr Rachel Standfield.

To mark Monash Indigenous Centre moving into the Menzies building and in celebration of the Faculty without Borders, the academic staff of MIC will showcase their current research projects highlighting the opportunities for collaborative and interdisciplinary work, including postgraduate supervision.

MIC staff have excellent research reputations and grant experience. We hope that this entrée will give other researchers across the Arts Faculty and wider, a taste for what we do, what we might do in the future and how we might work across our various disciplines and subject areas. Each speaker will discuss a sample of their research projects.

RSVP to Beverly Thomson


The Paleo Diet: the struggle for food security between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians

paleo-dietWednesday 3rd September 2014 , 2pm to 3pm

Monash Indigenous Centre Library
Building 55 level 2. Clayton Campus

The Paleo Diet is the new best thing to hit the market for food conscious first worlders. This paper will use the Paleo Diet as the critical lens for an examination of the food history of Australia over the last 230 years as it speaks to Indigenous-settler relations. Three foods, kangaroo, fish, and corn, are used as lenses by which to theorise these relations. Analysis suggests that there are three distinct periods: food scarcity and contestation, food security through adaptation and absorption, and re-emergence of a postcolonial concept of food sovereignty alongside the competing interests of highly urbanized first world seeking out the same food resources once again.

The period of food scarcity and contestation about food between Indigenous people and newcomers occurred for about 50-70 years after fist contact, explorations, settlement, and the loss of Indigenous food sovereignty was marked by the consumption of many foods now considered acceptably ‘Paleo’. The second period, between the 1840s and 1960s depending on the frontier expansion is a period identified as one of adaptation and absorption, with settlers achieving food security through the industrialization of food production methods while Aboriginal people were absorbed into the emerging cash economy, being restricted in access to their traditional estates, and their subsistence way of life. The third, the period of re-emergence, heralds the Aboriginal claim to the right to food sovereignty because of the changed relationship between the state and Indigenous peoples of Australia with the recognition of the pre-existing, and unextinguished, ‘native title’ rights, enabling the re-emergence of traditional food cultivation methods and practices on some estates within the capitalist economy. For settlers and more recent immigrants, growing niche marketability of the Paleo Diet as clean food raises the spectre of the recurrence of ‘romantic savagery’ as a maladaptive strategy in the ongoing struggle for food security between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Dr Zane Ma Rhea is Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education.

For enquiries, contact Beverly Thomson


Indigenous Australian astronomy – Dr Duane W. Hamacher

duane-hamacherWednesday 27th August 2014, 2pm to 3pm

Monash Indigenous Centre Library
Building 55 level 2. Clayton Campus

Abstract: Indigenous Australians developed rich astronomical knowledge systems that utilise the sun, moon, and stars for navigation, time-keeping, seasonal calendars, food economics, social structure, law, ceremony, and totemic systems. These knowledge systems are weaved into complex traditions that have been handed to successive generations for thousands of years and remain an important element of identity and spirituality to Indigenous people to this day. This talk will explore some of these traditions and will discuss the latest research being conducted in Indigenous astronomy, including a major project underway in the Torres Strait. The talk will also discuss ways in which this knowledge is being shared with the public, students, and teachers under the guidance of Indigenous communities.

Bio: Dr. Duane W. Hamacher is a Lecturer and ARC Research Fellow in the Nura Gili Indigenous Programs Unit at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. His teaching and research focuses on Indigenous astronomical knowledge. His current ARC project explores cultural astronomy in the Torres Strait. He earned degrees in astrophysics and Indigenous studies and works as an astronomy educator at Sydney Observatory.

For enquiries, contact Beverly Thomson


‘Factotum and Friend’: Two Central Australian case studies in ethnographic encounter and exchange

Jim Kite (seated, right) and a young Warumungu boy (on ground) in the camp of the Spencer and Gillen anthropological expedition at Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, August 1901 (photographer: Baldwin Spencer. Museum Victoria, item XP15087)
Jim Kite (seated, right) and a young Warumungu boy (on ground) in the camp of the Spencer and Gillen anthropological expedition at Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, August 1901 (photographer: Baldwin Spencer.
Museum Victoria, item XP15087)

Wednesday 20th August, 2pm to 3pm

Monash Indigenous Centre Library
Building 55 level 2. Clayton Campus

Mickey Akwerre Pengarte Dow Dow was a Northern Arrernte man born at Harry Creek, Central Australia around 1856. Dow Dow had been present when Spencer and Gillen documented Arrernte ceremonies at Alice Springs in the summer of 1896. In the 1930s he produced detailed illustrations in order to explain complex Arrernte beliefs to another budding anthropologist, Olive Muriel Pink. Dow Dow’s career as an ‘informant’ continued when he met the young linguist and ethnographer T.G.H. Strehlow in 1932 and went on to share details of the mythologies and ritual of his traditional lands.

Jim Alyelkelhayeka Penangke Kite was a Lower Southern Arrernte man born near the Charlotte Waters Telegraph Station, on the southern edge of the Simpson Desert, around 1865. Kite grew up and worked at the Telegraph all of his life and in 1901 accompanied Walter Baldwin Spencer and Frank Gillen on their anthropological expedition across the continent to the Gulf of Carpentaria. On his return from the expedition, Jim began to produce curios from wood and clay with intricate carvings representing the various mammals, insects and reptiles. He also incised a boomerang with a rare scene of first contact between Arrernte people and the explorer John McDouall Stuart.

Seen through the lens of these little-known illustrations and carvings created by two Arrernte artists, this presentation will explore intercultural relationships that have shaped ethnographic research in Central Australia. These novel images will be discussed within the intercultural context of their production on the frontier where ethnographers and equally inquisitive Aboriginal men worked together during a time of social and cultural exchange.

Jason Gibson is the Curator for Repatriation Research at Museum Victoria and a consultant anthropologist. Having spent fourteen years working in Central Australia on a range on community cultural heritage and research projects he is now working on his PhD thesis at MIC on the Anmatyerr material collected by T.G.H. Strehlow.

For enquiries, contact Beverly Thomson

Download the flyer for the ‘Factotum and Friend’ seminar (PDF)


Fear and Assuagement: representations and engagement of First Peoples in national museum spaces.

Dr Sandy O’Sullivan


Wednesday 16th April, 2pm to 3pm
Monash Indigenous Centre Library
Building 55 level 2. Clayton Campus

Imagine you’re doing a multi-year Australian Research Council-funded project on the representation of First Peoples in national museum spaces, and you’ve already visited 150 (of the eventual 425) museums over three countries and suddenly you find your work grinding to a halt because of a major sticking point for your participants. In this presentation, I’ll be revealing some of the moments that led to this and the solutions that finally restarted the conversations and the research.

The project, now nearing completion, began as a way to identify effective representations and engagements of Indigenous communities and peoples in the leading museum spaces of their own countries. The project asked a single question of the visited museums: what works? This presentation will focus on some of the stories and ideas that have emerged from this question, and will highlight the difficulties that some museums had in dealing with their own reductive ideas around identity. The dissemination of the research is in the standard form of a book and a range of journal articles, but the presentation will also show and talk through the challenges and value of using a more unconventional research output.

Dr Sandy O’Sullivan is an Aboriginal (Wiradjuri) academic in the Research Division of Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education. She is a current ARC Senior Indigenous Researcher, an enduring OLT Teaching Fellow, and holds a PhD in Fine Art and Performance. Her current international research study focuses on the representation and engagement of Indigenous peoples in major museum spaces. Sandy is the Indigenous representative for Interpretation Australia and is committed to supporting positive outcomes for both museums and other keeping places.

For enquiries, contact Beverly Thomson –

Download the flyer for this event (PDF)


Working in New Guinea – updates on Archaeology


Professor Glenn Summerhayes

Wednesday 9th April, 2pm to 3pm
Monash Indigenous Centre Library
Building 55 level 2. Clayton Campus

The seminar will present a personal overview of working in Papua New Guinea, through looking at the role of Government institutions to the critical nature of local community involvement and the importance of doing good and responsible archaeology. I will present updates on two projects. The first looks at the earliest occupation of New Guinea at 50,000 years ago and research in the Ivane Valley, while the second looks at new perspectives of Austronesian occupations at 3500-3000 years ago and research in both New Ireland and the north coast.

Professor Summerhayes is a prominent archaeologist working in Near Oceania. His research has made significant contributions in our understanding of this region’s past and has placed New Zealand at the forefront of archaeological research in Near Oceania. His major significant advances concerns first, the initial colonisation of New Guinea in which he extended occupation to 50-44,000 years ago (published in the journal Science), and secondly, the nature of the Lapita colonisation in Near Oceania beginning some 3,300 years ago, in which he demonstrated that these colonists were highly mobile and interactive peoples. His significant contribution to the archaeology of New Guinea was recognised by the Nation of PNG by awarding him the honour of Officer of the Order of Logohu (OL) in the 2014 New Years Honours list.

For enquiries, contact Beverly Thomson

Download the flyer for this event (PDF)


Reporting on the environment – science communication of complex issues



Reflections on a disputed past – Seminar

Elizabeth Eggleston Library, Building 55, Room 204 (level 2)

The next Seminar will be: