I am an archaeologist specialising in Indigenous Australian archaeology. The two major themes in my research focus on: (1) Indigenous foodways and economies during the Holocene, and; (2) cross-cultural entanglements, political economies and the role of Indigenous foodways and labour in the negotiation of new structures of power during the early colonial period. Much of this work focusses on two key sites: the Weipa-Coen region, in Cape York Peninsula, and the Riverland region, on the Murray River in South Australia.
I teach into the Bachelor of Archaeology and Graduate Program in Archaeology and Heritage Management, with responsibilities for a range topics in Indigenous archaeology, archaeological research methods, environmental archaeology, professional archaeology, and Indigenous heritage management. I supervise students at all levels (Honours, Masters and Doctoral) and prospective research students are welcome to contact me about supervision.
Vice Chancellor's Early Career Researcher Award (2015), Flinders University.
Course Coordinator — Graduate Program in Archaeology and Heritage Management
My research focuses on the archaeological investigation of Aboriginal political economy through the historical period and into the pre-contact past. I also have an active research interest in Aboriginal Caring for Country frameworks and holistic approaches to heritage management.
My primary research work has explored the economic strategies that Aboriginal people employed through the past several thousand years in tropical coastal Australia. The case study for this work has been coastal shell midden site near Weipa in far north Queensland. Field and laboratory work for this project took place between 2000–2006 however I have recently commenced a new field project targetting previously uninvestigated sites in the region, in collaboration with the Alnigth people. Excavation work is planned for 2014–15.
My second key research interest is how Aboriginal political economies changed in association with the arrival of Europeans in western Cape York Peninsula, and in particular, Moravian and later Presbyterian Missionaries from the 1890s onwards. This has included extensive oral history and cultural mapping work extending over a decade as well as archaeological survey and excavation work. I am interested in the way that Aboriginal political economies were influenced (and were influenced by) the establishment of the missions, particularly through changing ways that both Church and State engaged with Indigenous Australians in the late 19th and early 20th Century. My present focus in 2014 is publishing results of work conducted between 2008-2011 as well as preliminary excavations in 2015.
My teaching responsibilities vary from year to year, but I regularly run the following topics:
A central element of my research philosophy is that ethical and socially valuable results can only be generated in the context of projects that draw inspiration, motivation and purpose from community priorities and concerns. The ability to carry out research is a privilege and as researchers we should actively seek to address questions and further knowledge in areas that can contribute to the needs and aspirations of communities or specific interest groups, particularly where these groups are marginalised in the present.
Most of my research focuses upon the western Cape York Peninsula region, particularly around the townships of Napranum and Weipa where I've worked closely with community members since 2000. I am currently a cultural adviser for the Alngith Corporation (voluntary) and facilitate a range of small to medium projects via collaboration with the Alngith Caring for Land and Sea Country Committee. I regularly involve students in this work, as volunteers, as paid research assistants and as researchers completing thesis components of Honours, Graduate or Postgraduate Degrees.