Professor Claire Smith


College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

place Humanities (N333)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Claire Smith is an anthropological archaeologist who works primarily with Indigenous communities. She analyses rock art, statues, monuments and memorials, graves, modern material culture, and social media. She has undertaken archaeological, ethnoarchaeological and anthropological research with Australian Aboriginal communities in the Barunga region, Northern Territory, every year since 1990 and with Ngadjuri people in South Australia since 1998.

Claire Smith has held one-year visiting posts at Columbia University, New York, and at the University of Newcastle, Australia. She has been a short-term visiting scholar at Kyushu University, the University of Denver, the University of Cape Town, Lock Haven University, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar.

As the twice-elected President of the World Archaeological Congress (2003-2014), Claire is committed to intellectually enriching academia by strengthening the global impact of research by scholars from low-income countries. In 2018, the Royal Anthropological Institute awarded Claire Smith the Lucy Mair Medal and Marsh Award, for sustained research with Australian Aboriginal communities that has contributed to human dignity. She is a University Medalist and former Fulbright PostDoctoral Fellow with the American University and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Claire Smith has produced 16 authored and edited books and over 230 publications in English, Spanish, Catalan, Arabic, Portuguese and Japanese. She is editor of the Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. The first edition is the 2nd most highly cited and 3rd most downloaded of 804 works in Springer’s Humanities, Social Sciences and Law collections for 2014. In January 2022 it had 485,000 downloads. The second edition, with some 2000 chapters, was published in September 2020.

Claire has raised $7.2 million in funding for humanities research projects, including two Fulbright awards and 11 grants from the Australian Research Council.


1996 Doctor of Philosophy. University of New England, Australia.
Title of thesis: Situating Style: an ethno-archaeological study of social and material context in an Australian Aboriginal artistic system.

Supervisors: Jane Balme, Betty Meehan and Mike Morwood.

1990 Bachelor of Arts, First Class Honours, University Medal, University of New England, Australia.
Title of thesis: Designed Dreaming: assessing the relationship between style, social structure and environment in Aboriginal Australia.

Supervisors: Jane Balme and Mike Morwood.

Honours, awards and grants

2022 Peter Ucko Memorial Award, World Archaeological Congress.

2019 Elected Fellow, Australian Academy of Humanities.

2018 Lucy Mair Medal and Marsh Award, Royal Anthropological Institute, London.

2018 Commemorative Medal, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

2016 Lifetime Achievement Award, World Archaeological Congress.

2014 Elected Life Member, Flinders Archaeology Society.

2010 Elected Fellow, Society of Antiquaries of London.

2006 Carrick Award for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, with Heather Burke.

2004 Vice-Chancellor's Award for Teaching, with Heather Burke.

2003 White Bequest, Australian Academy of Humanities.

2000 Australian Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellowship.

1999 Prince of Wales Award, Queen's Trust for Young Australians. With Lester Rigney.

1996 David Phillips Memorial Award, University of New England.

1994 Northern Territory History Award.

1990 University Medal, University of New England.

Australian Research Council Grants

2022-2024 $910,000 Warratyi. Cultural innovation in the Indigenous settlement of Australia. Mike Smith, Claire Smith, Chris Wilson, Mike Morley. DP220101522.

2022-2026 $1,760,680 Indigenist archaeology. Kellie Pollard, Claire Smith, Liam Brady, Nicholas Bullot, Craig Taylor. IN220100079.

2020-2022 $277,000 ‘Slow' digitisation, community heritage and Martindale Hall. Jane Haggis, Tully Barnett, Heather Burke, Penelope Edmunds, Claire Smith, Margaret Allen, Ania Kotarba. SR200200900.

2019-2021 $478,500 Ochre archaeomicrobiology. Rachel Popelka-Filcoff, Claire Lenehan, Claire Smith, Amy Robert, Robert Edwards, Shanan Tobe. DP190102219.

2010-2012 $158,000 Archaeology in the longrass: Aboriginal fringe camps. Kellie Pollard, Claire Smith, Heather Burke. DI100100297.

2010-2012 $80,007 Archaeology in the longrass: Understanding contact. Claire Smith, Heather Burke. LP100100876.

2004-2007 $319,000 Shared and separate histories. Claire Smith, Jane Balme, Heather Burke. DP0453101.

2004-2007 $88,108 Mining and transformation in Jawoyn country. Jane Balme, Claire Smith, Heather Burke. LP0455636.

2004 $30,000 Indigenous collections and knowledge archives research network (led by Howard Morphy). SR0354824.

1999 $103,218 Archaeology of multiculturalism in colonial Australia. Claire Smith. C59942105.

1994-1997 $150,000 An ethnoarchaeological study of Indigenous body art. Claire Smith. Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Key responsibilities

Flinders University
Claire Smith's key responsibilities at Flinders University are to engage in high-quality and innovative research and teaching; to advise postgraduate students so that they produce high quality research theses in a timely manner whilst simultaneously becoming well positioned for post-study employment in an ever-changing world; and to encourage her colleageagues in this endeavour. She is a member of Flinders University's College of Distinguished Educators.

World Archaeological Congress
Claire Smith is the immediate past president of the World Archaeological Congress. She was president from 2003 to 2014.

2022—2025 Academic Secretary, 10th World Archaeological Congress, to be held in June 2025 in Adelaide, Australia.

Membership of Expert Committees

2021-2023 Task Force on Revisions of the Principles of Archaeological Ethics, Society for American Archaeology.

2019 Working Group, Constitution Revision, Society for East Asian Archaeology.

2019— Fulbright SA Selection Committee, Australian-American Fulbright Commission.

2018—2019 Dental Health Service Expert Advisory Committee, Royal Flying Doctor Service.

2015—2018 Science & Research Committee, South Australian Museum.

2009—2011 Humanities & Creative Arts Panel, College of Experts, Australian Research Council.

2009—2010 Reference Group, Australian World Heritage Committee.

2010 World Commission of Anthropologies, American Anthropological Association.

2003—2009 Public Education Committee, Society for American Archaeology.

2007 Humanities Assessment Panel, Research Quality Framework, Australian Research Council.

Teaching interests

Books on—or for—Teaching
2017 H. Burke, M. Morrison and C. Smith. The Archaeologist's Field Handbook. 2nd ed. Sydney: Allen and Unwin. 536 pages.

2007 H. Burke and C. Smith Archaeology to Delight and Instruct. Active Learning in the University Classroom. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. ISBN-13: 978 1 59874-256-5 (hc) & 978 1 59874-257-2 (pb). 288 pp.

2000 C. Smith Teaching Archaeology in Cyberspace. Adelaide: Southern Archaeology. ISBN 1 876675 24.

Teaching Awards
2006 $25000 Carrick National Award for Teaching, Team Category (with H. Burke).

2004 $5000 Vice-Chancellor's Award for Teaching, Flinders University, Team Category (with H. Burke).

Conference Sessions on Teaching

Aug 2016 C. Smith, and Neel Kamap Chapagain, Nepal. Education: Learning and unlearning. Eighth World Archaeology Congress Congress (WAC-8), Kyoto, Japan.

July 2005 C. Smith and H. Burke 'Mortimer Wheeler, Lewis Binford, Ian Hodder ... and you. Active Learning in Archaeology'. Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australiasia, Sydney.

June 2003 H. Burke and C. Smith 'Teaching archaeology for fun'. WAC-5, Washington, D.C.

Conference Papers on Teaching

Aug 2016 A. Hennessey, J. Willika, J. Ralph, C. Smith and G. Jackson Teaching for an engaged archaeology. Social and research outputs from a long-held Aboriginal archaeology field school. WAC-8, Kyoto, Japan.

June 2003 C. Smith and H. Burke Becoming Binford: Role-playing as a way of teaching archaeological theory and method. Washington, DC.

June 2003 C. Smith, A. Warner and S. Ford 'We are family: Teaching 'skin' to mununga'. Washington, DC.

Jan 1999 C. Smith Teaching archaeology in cyberspace. Cape Town, South Africa.

Jan 1999 C. Smith 'Skills for cyberia: using the internet to teach archaeology students. Cape Town, South Africa.

Dec 1998 C. Smith 'Engendering power through the web. Australian Archaeological Association, Valla.

Community Archaeology Field School

Barunga community, Northern Territory

Topic coordinator
ARCH1001 Discovering Archaeology
ARCH8810 Community Archaeology Field School
ARCH2207 The Archaeological Imagination
ARCH3107 History of Archaeology
ARCH2208 The Museum
ARCH2209 Archaeology of Art
Topic lecturer
ARCH1002 From the Palaeolithic to Pompeii
Supervisory interests
Aboriginal art
Cultural heritage
Globalisation and indigenous peoples
Indigenous archaeology
Latin American popular practices, processes of de-linking and decolonization
Sustainable development
Higher degree by research supervision
Principal supervisor: Indigenous archaeology (1), Social archaeology (2), Cultural heritage managenent (1), Sustainable Development Goals (1)
Principal supervisor: Modern material culture (1), Indigenous archaeology (2), Colonialism and contact (2), Social archaeology (1), Gender archaeology (1)
Associate supervisor: Gender archaeology (1), Aboriginal art (1), Historical archaeology (2)
Higher degree by research student achievements
Christopher Wilson

The first Aboriginal man with a PhD in archaeology - APR 2017

Kellie Pollard

The first Aboriginal woman with a PhD in archaeology (August 2019) -

Expert for media contact
Aboriginal Issues
Gender studies
Indigenous Australia
Race relations
Visual arts
Aboriginal Studies
Gender Issues
Globalisation and Indigenous Peoples
Indigenous Australian Archaeology
Rock art, especially in Australia and in terms of women's roles
Socially mediated terrorism
Available for contact via
Or contact the media team
+61 8 82012092
0427 398 713
Media expertise
  • Aboriginal Issues
  • Archaeology
  • Gender studies
  • Globalisation
  • Indigenous Australia
  • Internet
  • Museums
  • Race relations
  • Terrorism
  • Visual arts
  • Aboriginal Studies
  • Gender Issues
  • Globalisation and Indigenous Peoples
  • Indigenous Australian Archaeology
  • Internet
  • Rock art, especially in Australia and in terms of women's roles
  • Socially mediated terrorism
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