Deakin secures ARC Discovery Indigenous scheme funding
- Deakin’s Professor Gaye Sculthorpe has received funding through the 2024 Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Indigenous scheme.
- Professor Sculthorpe will lead a collaborative research project to rediscover Australian Indigenous objects sent overseas to the Great Exhibitions of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
- Through collaborative work at community discussions, the project will repatriate knowledge and remake connections between objects, museums and Indigenous people, and bring contemporary Indigenous perspectives to global attention.
A team of researchers led by Deakin University Professor Gaye Sculthorpe from the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI) has received more than $823,000 in funding through the highly-competitive 2024 Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Indigenous scheme.
The scheme supports research programs led by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander researchers, and since its inception, has funded significant research for the social, economic and cultural benefit of the Australian community.
Professor Gaye Sculthorpe and Dr Jilda Andrews (ANU) examining an Aboriginal game net in collections of the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution.
Uncovering important Indigenous objects
Professor Sculthorpe and team of national and international collaborators will commence an exciting and important project to rediscover Australian Indigenous objects sent overseas to the Great Exhibitions of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The research team includes both experienced and emerging Indigenous scholars and other curators and subject experts.
The research project aims to:
- systematically investigate and inventory for the first time all the known Indigenous objects sent to international exhibitions between 1851 and 1937
- contextualise and analyse the collecting, display and representations of Indigenous objects and people at the Great Exhibitions, and especially the role of Indigenous people in this process
- remake connections between the objects and their Knowledge-holders/stakeholders where possible, sending cultural knowledge back to First Nations people
- advance museological theory and practice by considering how objects with little origin can be managed, used and interpreted today, working through dialogue with Indigenous people to do so, and
- contribute to Australian and international debates and policy about management and repatriation of objects in international museums collected in colonial eras.
‘Such objects acted as powerful forms of cultural, political and economic display, and a form of imperial and colonial projection,’ Professor Sculthorpe says.
‘Our research team will use their diverse fields of expertise to collaboratively investigate and analyse collections of Indigenous objects in international and Australian museums, and excavate the many objects lost to Australia.’
‘In doing so, it’ll bring contemporary Indigenous perspectives to global attention, generate new exhibition possibilities and discover the hidden histories of Indigenous people involved in these events.’ Key international research partners include the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge and the Musee du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris.
Director of ADI, Alfred Deakin Professor Fethi Mansouri, congratulated Professor Sculthorpe and acknowledged her incredible contribution to Indigenous knowledge and culture.
‘This is a wonderful achievement for Gaye and a much-deserved recognition of why her expertise is fundamental to engaging with Aboriginal communities and local and international institutions.’
Professor Gaye Sculthorpe
Professor Gaye Sculthorpe is a Research Professor of Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies at Deakin University. Throughout her distinguished career she’s worked in local, state and national museums, and served as a Member of the National Native Title Tribunal.
- Held the position of Curator and Head of the Oceania section of the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the British Museum in London.
- 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.
- Awarded a Global Impact Award through the Global Australians Awards
- Awarded ANU Indigenous Alumnus of the Year, 2017.
- 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.
To find out more about the ARC Discovery Indigenous scheme, visit the ARC website.
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Professor Sculthorpe and team of national and international collaborators will commence an exciting and important project to rediscover Australian Indigenous objects sent overseas to the Great Exhibitions of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.