UQ Anthropologists consider the Asia-Pacific region including Australia to be at the core of Anthropology’s strategic research interests for the future.  We have significant expertise in theoretical and conceptual areas of the discipline and are renowned for our strengths in applied research. The Anthropology Museum’s scholarly exhibition program provides the discipline, among others, with a forum for public engagement with academic ideas. The Museum brings unique potential to our teaching and research as does UQCHU (UQ Culture & Heritage Unit), which employs anthropologists on research consultancies.

Three areas of research strength among UQ Anthropologists – environment, knowledge, and identity – are identified as recognisable areas of research and teaching expertise. We intend to grow these areas through the development of national and international research funding and partnerships, high impact publications, and high-quality student recruitment.

The Anthropology of Human-Environmental Relations

Never before has an informed understanding of human-environment relations been so pressing, as one of the greatest challenges facing society is the environmental impact of climate change and rapid industrialisation.

UQ Anthropologists conduct diverse research reflecting the complexity of issues and debates on the environment. Ethnographically informed research on the mining industry and its effect on the environment and on communities in Australia and abroad is a focus of UQ’s discipline. A key specialization developed at UQ is the field of Native Title, which merges applied anthropology and law. UQ Anthropologists also combine material artefacts, museum collections and ethnography to analyse how environmental engagement, knowledge and perception develops in different societies. 

Ethnographies of Knowledge Societies

What does it mean to live in an age of globalised knowledge? Is this an outcome of globalising ‘knowledge societies’ or is it because of a universal demand for knowledge to solve global problems?

UQ Anthropologists conduct research in a broad range of fields that examines new forms of knowledge economies in a rapidly changing world. Our research is actively engaged in generating empirical research on risk in society:  how environmental risks attached to mining industries are transmitted, managed and understood within rural communities; or, the sense of perceived risk of steroid-use amongst young men.  UQ anthropologists are engaged in projects examining how digital communications and their aesthetics transform traditional knowledge networks. Our research is challenging assumptions that digital communications bridge social equalities, enfranchise communities in rural and remote areas, and strengthen civil society.

Social Identities

Do social identities matter in a seemingly fluid, culturally heterogeneous, and ever-changing world?

UQ Anthropologists study expressions and articulations of identity as well as more abstract and fixed ideas of identity among peoples in different parts of the world. We ask; are the politics of identity implicated in migration and population mobility, patterns of conflict, and the use of resources and environment? Our research examines religious and ethnic identity in creating social and political boundaries and how such boundaries are negotiated between groups and through time. UQ anthropologists are engaged in research that seeks to understand forms of ethnic and gender identity in Australian society and elsewhere. How do group and individual identities shape ideas of what the human body can do or should be? Projects exploring articulations of settler and indigenous identities in settler-colonial societies have a focus on a sense of belonging to place, to people, or to nation.