Deakin welcomes Professor Gaye Sculthorpe to School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Media release

14 April 2022

Deakin University is proud to welcome Professor Gaye Sculthorpe to the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Professor Sculthorpe joins the University from London's British Museum and will take on the role of Professor of Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies in August.

Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Education Professor Vanessa Lemm said Prof Sculthorpe brought to the position a world-leading knowledge of Australian Aboriginal material cultures.

A Palawa woman from Tasmania, Prof Sculthorpe is a descendent of the famous Indigenous singer Fanny Smith.

She has a reputation as an avid tracker of Australian Aboriginal material and will draw on her extensive fieldwork to share her rich, real-world insights with students.

"Professor Sculthorpe will commence an initial research-intensive term in the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation before joining the school in a teaching-research professorship," Prof Lemm said.

"She will make a brilliant contribution to our teaching program. Her expertise is fundamental to engaging with Aboriginal communities and local and international institutions."

Prof Sculthorpe previously worked for Museums Victoria and most recently served as Head of the Oceania section of the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the British Museum.

Faculty Associate Dean of Research Professor Andrea Witcomb said Prof Sculthorpe was a leader in the reinterpretation of ethnographic collections.

"She gave a voice to those whose voices were erased from history and is renowned for her work with Indigenous communities," Prof Witcomb said.

"Her work is aimed at reconnecting communities with collections held in museums across Australia and the rest of the world.

"She is legendary for how she has tracked Australian Aboriginal material in the United Kingdom and beyond."

About Professor Gaye Sculthorpe:

Professor Gaye Sculthorpe has had a distinguished career in museums and cultural heritage in Australia and in the United Kingdom. She worked in Australia in local, state, and national museums and served as a Member of the National Native Title Tribunal.

Since 2013, she has been Curator and Head of the Oceania section of the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the British Museum in London. In this position, she has been involved in key research projects with Australian colleagues transforming knowledge of and access to collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander materials in British and Irish museums. Her most recent publication is the co-edited volume Ancestors, artefacts, empire: Indigenous Australia in British and Irish Museums, published in 2021 by British Museum Press.

Over the course of her career, Prof Sculthorpe has served as a member of the Australian Heritage Council, the Australian State of the Environment Committee, as a board member of Museums Victoria, and a council member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. In 2021, she was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

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