Associate Professor Michael Westaway


Research in Mithaka county has been co-designed with the Mithaka people, in close alignment with their research protocol Ngali Wanthi (we search together). Multidisciplinary research funded through four ARC projects and three State Government Looking After Country Grants has revealed important new information in relation to the complexity of Aboriginal society in Channel Country. One of the core objectives of this research has been to support the aspirations of the Mithaka people around protecting their country and promoting its promotional value. The emerging results from research has been important in many regards, but its contribution to the national debate generated by Bruce Pascoe’s award-winning book Dark Emu has perhaps been one of its most scholarly contributions. 

On a more applied level, the research has the potential to serve an important social and environmental function. There are ongoing threats to Channel Country, and these are closely linked to the whims of the political cycle. I would like to suggest that archaeological and palaeoenvironmental research provides a powerful insight into a more sustainable past, and in this talk will explore how this information, combined with Traditional Owner knowledge and research from other colleagues, could be used as a guide to inform a more sustainable future for Channel Country.

About the Presenter

A/Prof Michael C Westaway teaches in the archaeology program at the University of Queensland and is both an archaeologist and biological anthropologist with a strong interest in the origins of the First Australians and more broadly in the archaeology of Aboriginal Australia and ancient Papua New Guinea. He is easily excited when it comes to collaborative interdisciplinary field work that explores the intersection between archaeology and biology but currently (probably) has too many projects and these include research in Channel Country, Cape York, the southern coast and highlands of Papua New Guinea and the mid north coast of New South Wales.    


About Archaeology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Archaeology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of archaeological research and ideas amongst UQ archaeology students and staff. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment. It is hoped that anyone interested in current archaeological directions, both within and outside the School and University, will be able to attend and contribute to the series.