Anthropologies of change: Theoretical and methodological challenges

Dec, 2012
Product type: 
Research outputs

This report documents key proceedings from the Anthropologies of Change: Theoretical and Methodological Challenges professional development workshop co-convened by the University of Sydney, the Native Title Research Unit of AIATSIS and the Centre for Native Title Anthropology at the Australian National University. The two-day event, held at the University of Sydney 25-26 August 2011, was funded primarily by a grant awarded under the 2010-11 Attorney General Department's 'Native Title Anthropologist Grants Program'. 

The workshop was targeted at anthropologists currently working in the area of native title research. It was attended by almost 30 practitioners employed in native title representative bodies and service providers, private practice and the university sector around the country. The primary aim of the event was to address some of the central conceptual challenges of documenting the traditional laws and customs of Australian Indigenous peoples in relation to land in the context of native title law. In particular, the workshop was concerned to explore a variety of approaches to modeling social change that might usefully assist with the task of articulating shifts in cultural practices through time.

The intention of these Select Proceedings is to provide an accessible summary of the key ideas and questions raised over the course of the two days. Discussions are not reproduced in full; rather participants’ contributions - which were inevitably wide-ranging - have been edited so as to provide a more useful and targeted resource for readers. Three of the papers presented during the workshop are reproduced here in full or, where a transcript was not available, in a summary form. Each paper is followed by edited participant responses to the ideas and evidence each author raised. Details of additional texts referred to during papers or discussions have been included in footnotes.

Papers include:

  • Dr Gaynor Macdonald, Change in social theory
  • Prof. Diane Austin-Broos, The Western Arrernte today: In recognition of Spencer and Gillen
  • Prof. Robert Tonkinson, Anthropological approaches to the study of social change 
  • Dr James Weiner, The dilemma of tradition
Peer reviewed: 
Last reviewed: 17 Jul 2017