New Post - 4 August 2020

ASWA's Seminar Series 2020

ASWA appreciates the opportunity to partner with AACAI WA Chapter for the next in the 2020 Seminar Series. ASWA also appreciates the opportunity to meet face to face.

Date:Tuesday 15 September 2020

Time: 6.30pm sharp (AWST)

Where: This seminar will be held at The Left Bank, 15 Riverside Road, East Fremantle - upstairs at The River Bar

Seminar Title: The Path of Pain: Understanding Trauma, Acknowledging Truth and Enabling Healing through the Bernier and Dorre Island Lock Hospital Histories

Presentation by: Dr Jade Pervan & Ms Kathleen Musulin


Between 1908 and 1919 over 800 Aboriginal men, women and children 'deemed' to have venereal disease were taken from across Western Australia and transported, usually in neck chains, to the Lock Hospitals. The Path of Pain is a community-driven project, which tells the story of the Lock Hospitals tragedy. The Lock Hospital Working Group (made up of representatives from the Shire of Carnarvon, researchers, community members and direct descendants) initiated a number of culturally appropriate memorials and healing spaces to acknowledge this untold story. The project showcases best practice in informing future policy on truth telling but also cultural heritage protection and awareness of places, times, settings and landscapes of very traumatic periods in the past.

Full Details & Contact Details: Download the Seminar Flyer.

Book Online: You will need to book online using the Register Now link below: $10 for Student and/or ASWA/AACAI Member, $15 for Others (everyone is welcome). You will receive an invoice via email. You can also pay on the night.

Food provided after the talk and there will be a licensed cash bar available (make sure you come early and grab a drink!)

Please contact JJ McDermott or Tania Philips if you require any further information.

RegisterNow Logo

New Post - 20 July 2020

ASWA's Seminar Series 2020

ASWA is pleased to invite you to the 4th in its 2020 Seminar Series.

Date: Tuesday 11 August 2020

Time: 7.30pm - 8.30pm (AWST)

Where: This seminar will be conducted via Zoom. The ASWA secretary will email a link to ASWA members. If you are not an ASWA member and would like to attend this seminar please email the ASWA Secretary and a link will be sent to you.

Seminar Title: Place-name Mapping as Language and Heritage Preservation: A Case Study in Applied Anthropology, Eyak, Alaska

Presentation by: David Guilfoyle - Managing Director, Applied Archaeology International

Authors: Jen R. Smith, David R. Guilfoyle, Genevieve R. Carey, Jenna May and Pamela Smith


This paper explores a place name mapping project that forms part of a language revitalization program in Eyak, Alaska. In tracing the cultural and historical context of this program, we outline how and why this place-name mapping platform necessarily becomes the process for effective language learning and community empowerment. As a case study in applied anthropology, the methodology integrates applied linguistics, place name research, community archaeology, and cultural values mapping. We examine how this holistic program operates, with a focus on community-based field methodologies, and how it provides the basis for decolonizing research and cultural heritage management at the local level; to foster a social process of resistance to a range of external threats and pressures. Further, we demonstrate how this community model provides direct outcomes for heritage preservation that has broader applicability, in the movement against the persistent, structural inequality embedded within compliance-based cultural heritage management, and beyond.

New Post - 19 July 2020

UWA Anthropology & Sociology Seminar Series Semester 2, 2020

Date: Fridays

Time: 2.30 to 3.30pm AWST weekly

Where: Zoom Link to be posted weekly

UWA Anthropology is pleased to be able to share with you the upcoming Seminar Series. The Seminar's will continue on Zoom at least for now. The feedback received highlighted the benefits of meeting online for those not able to be present on campus and preparations to organise a hybrid presentation (F2F + online) are not complete.

This semester welcomes some international and interstate presenters as well as quite a number of PhD candidates fulfilling their milestone requirements.

Please email UWA Anthropology for the Zoom link.

New Post - 4 June 2020

ASWA's Seminar Series 2020

ASWA is pleased to invite you to the 3rd in its 2020 Seminar Series.

Date: Tuesday 14 July 2020

Time: 7.30pm - 8.30pm (AWST)

Where: This seminar will be conducted via Zoom. The ASWA secretary will email a link to ASWA members. If you are not an ASWA member and would like to attend this seminar please email the ASWA Secretary and a link will be sent to you.

Seminar Title: Negotiating Collective Memories in Material Culture: The case of a refugee boat, a tuna vessel, and a museum collection object...

Xavier Leenders - Assistant Curator, Anthropology, Museum of Western Australia


It was a cold winter's day in 2013 when, to the surprise of those in the Geraldton port and foreshore café, a small Sri-Lankan tuna boat motored into the harbour. With 66 Sri-Lankan asylum seekers on board, the vessel was decorated with a makeshift sign: "We want to go to New Zealand. Please help us". Five years later, this boat, known as 'Bremen', now sits within the Western Australian Museum’s collections. This paper explores how particular forms of material culture, like Bremen, can enter into our collective memory. Here, I discuss how Anthropology might come to understand certain forms of material culture, like Bremen, not only as memorialisations of various social imaginings, but as active sites of discourse: that 'things' can speak, and be spoken to. Importantly, I propose an interpretation of material culture that recognises an object's ability to constitute, and continue to stake a claim in our collective memory making, in a ways that both centre, and contribute to the divergent histories that these memories produce.

New Post - 1 June 2020

Destruction of the culturally and scientifically significant Juukan Gorge rockshelters

The Anthropological Society of Western Australia (ASWA) acknowledges the profound sense of loss that Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) people feel after the destruction of the culturally and scientifically significant Juukan Gorge rockshelters. The Society expresses its dismay that this state of affairs should have occurred.

Please read the full ASWA statement.

ASWA draws your attention to the statements made by the Australian Anthropological Society and the Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists Inc.

New Post - 25 May 2020

ASWA's Seminar Series 2020

ASWA is pleased to invite you to the second in its 2020 Seminar Series.

Date: Tuesday 16 June 2020

Time: 7.00pm - 8.00pm (AWST)

Where: This seminar was conducted via Zoom. To view the YouTube video, please click on the seminar title below.

Seminar Title: Native Title: Implications for Australian Senses of Place

Emeritus Professor David Trigger - The University of Western Australia, The University of Queensland

This seminar is based on a paper that was presented by Professor David Trigger, as a Distinguished Public Lecture for the Australian Anthropological Society (AAS), at the end of 2019 and has just been published in The Australian Journal of Anthropology (TAJA).


Native title in Australia is a significant issue for Indigenous claimants but also for the wider society. Much debate occurs about achievements and frustrations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups seeking recognition of traditional connections to land. There is less discussion of cultural implications for other Australians with lengthy settler family histories, migrant backgrounds from many countries, and as recent arrivals with aspirations to make this nation-state their home.

Issues arising include whether there are lessons for Australia beyond addressing the legal claims of Indigenous people:

  • Are senses of place and heritage values in the land sharpened through awareness of Indigenous connections?
  • Are some sectors of the society better positioned than others to learn from native title engagements with places of cultural and historical significance?
  • Does contemporary urban life, replete with mobility, work against development of intimate personal links with physical and social spaces?
  • Does it require residence over generations to produce place identification that is deeply embedded in the worldviews and personalities of residents?

Anthropology as a social science has a substantial and important practical research role in native title negotiations. However, a further challenge is how to bring a broader societal appreciation of the kinds of place significance that are central to Indigenous claims. Can native title, across remote, rural and urban settings, complement and overlap with current and future Australian senses of belonging? This is to explore a form of cultural coexistence that is potentially in tension with a sharp and mutually exclusive categorical distinction between those who embrace ‘Iindigenous’ identity and others. Can such cultural co-existence reinforce legal and economic achievements of land justice for the Aboriginal minority, yet also contribute to rich senses of place across the broader Australian society?

Upcoming ASWA Seminars

  • Xavier Leendes - Tuesday 14 July 2020
  • David Guilfolye - August (Date TBD)

New Post - 6 May 2020

ASWA's Socially Distant Seminar

While the public health physical distance measures are in place, ASWA hopes to offer some alternative social connection opportunities.

ASWA will hold its foreshadowed Socially Distant Seminar on Tuesday 12 May 2020 commencing at 7.30pm. For those who haven't already received an email, please email the ASWA Secretary and a link to join the meeting will be sent to you.

ASWA's President, Dr Edward McDonald will present his paper entitled: But if they keep digging deep down they might find something: The heritage consultative meeting, performing heritage and sustaining livelihoods.

As this is the first of these Socially Distant Seminars, ASWA appreciates your patience while we make this work.

New Post - 16 April 2020

ASWA's Socially Distant Seminar

ASWA is proposing to hold an appropriately socially distant Seminar on-line. Further details about the date and time will be posted soon. It is hoped that this Seminar will be the first in a series, with speakers to include Xavier Leenders (June), David Trigger (August) and Jan Turner (October). We hope you can join us, from a distance.

ASWA's President, Dr Edward McDonald will present his paper entitled: "But if they keep digging deep down they might find something”: The heritage consultative meeting, performing heritage and sustaining livelihoods.

Short Abstract

This paper examines the on-site ‘heritage consultative meeting’ in which ‘consequential talk’ plays a central role, as integral in the performance of Aboriginal heritage and an essential element in sustaining Aboriginal livelihoods in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Long Abstract

Aboriginal heritage assessments, including archaeological and ethnographic surveys and community consultations, are central to approvals processes, for mineral exploration and mining in the Pilbara and other regions of Western Australia. These processes have given rise to a ‘heritage economy’ which forms a sizeable portion of the domestic economy in Aboriginal communities.

Integral to the assessment processes is the on-site ‘heritage consultative meeting’, which forms part of a larger process of community, commercial and statutory meetings and decision-making processes or ‘conjured contexts’ (Brown, Reed & Yarrow 2017). During the on-site ‘heritage consultative meeting’, Aboriginal people are routinely required to assess the significance of places and objects and comment on their management, including proposals for mitigative archaeological research such as test excavations. In the latter case, they may be asked to decide about investigating an indeterminate or conjured object, referred to as a ‘potential archaeological deposit’.

Drawing on the ‘ethnography of meetings’ (Schwartzman 1989), we seek to provide an ethnographic analysis of ‘the heritage consultative meeting’ as a central element in the performance of heritage in Western Australia. The paper examines how the ‘heritage consultative meeting’, as a ‘communicative event’ in which ‘consequential talk’ and gestures play a central role in participants’ resolution of emergent heritage issues and how the decisions emerge as a series of situated relationships between people, places, objects, potentials, and documents. While at the same time addressing its role in sustaining Aboriginal livelihoods within the ‘heritage economy’.

New Post - 23 March 2020

ASWA Seminar

The ASWA Committee met on Saturday 29th February and resolved to hold a seminar at the Left Bank River Bar and booked the venue for Tuesday 21st April between 6 and 9pm. Our President, Dr Edward McDonald, agreed to present a paper on the central role of consequential talk in the performance of Aboriginal heritage practice.

Since the meeting, seemingly at warp speed, the world has changed. The Committee hope to reschedule the presentation to a later date.

New Post - 18 March 2020

Future Forum 2020 - Symposium - Rescheduled

Due to heightened concerns over the Covid-19 (Coronavirus), the Future Forum 2020 - 'Visions for The Future of Aboriginal Heritage' - at the Esplanade in Fremantle on 20 March has now been postponed until a later date.

This in the interests of everybody's health and well-being.

As the future remains very uncertain, the organising committee has not set a new date just yet. However, we are seeking to postpone it for 6 months.

In the meantime, registrations will be kept on the system with Humanitix, and you will receive updates as we have them. However, if anyone requires a refund, we can make that happen. Just get in touch with me with your request.

We appreciate your understanding on this.

If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch with JJ McDermott, MAACAI Chair, Future Forum 2020 Organising Committee.

New Post - 17 February 2020

Verifying Heritage Survey Information

The ASWA President has written to DPLH letter in response to a request for advice relating to DPLH's proposed Template Form for Verifying Heritage Survey Information. The request is set out below:

As a significant provider to Government of heritage surveys conducted under the Noongar Standard Heritage Agreement (NSHA) I am seeking your views on a draft proposal for in field verification of heritage information provided by Aboriginal participants during Aboriginal heritage survey fieldwork.

DPLH is considering ways of strengthening existing processes, for example the review of draft survey reports, through an in field verification template to confirm that the information provided by Aboriginal participants has been captured correctly. We are aware that some heritage service providers already use various in field forms and letters of advice. Part of this discussion is to consider how that may be standardised into a concise template that may assist in getting greater feedback.

I welcome your views by cob Friday 31 January 2020 on the proposed in field verification, whether it will add costs, or how the verification process of heritage information may otherwise be improved. I’ve attached a draft of the content of the proposed template below and am happy to discuss further.

DRAFT FOR DISCUSSION - Verification of heritage information provided by Aboriginal participants during Aboriginal heritage survey fieldwork

Aboriginal Heritage Service provider (AHSP) to complete a template in the field at the conclusion of the survey and request that Aboriginal consultants verify the information correct by signing it. Items 1 to 6 could possibly be filled by the AHSP prior to the survey. The remainder of the ‘in-field’ template will need to be brief to allow it to be completed and verified at the end of the survey. However it should include details of:

  • Name of survey
  • Date of survey
  • ILUA area
  • Proponent
  • AHSP
  • Area surveyed
  • If no sites a statement to that effect
  • If there are sites a statement for each site including:
    1. Type (If archaeological include details if ethnographic include brief stories and song lines)
    2. Location and boundaries (including cadastre details and a map if possible)
    3. Significance
  • Any heritage protection recommendations made by the Aboriginal consultants
  • Names of Aboriginal Consultants and signatures

The completed in-field heritage survey verification template can then either be incorporated into the report and/or provided separately with the Draft Report by the AHSP.

New Post - 15 February 2020

UWA Anthropology & Sociology Seminar Series  Semester 1, 2020

FYI - The UWA Anthropology and Sociology Seminar Series is held each week at UWA, Fridays: 2.30-3.30pm, Venue: SS Rm 2203. Take a look at the published presentation schedule for this semester.

ASWA Annual Dinner, Prize Night and AGM 2019

The annual ASWA dinner was held on 22 November 2019 at the University Club, UWA. Prize Winners announced on the night were:

  • Kelsie Prabawa - Ethnosciences
  • Jan Turner - Ethnosciences
  • Melanie Fox (Murdoch University) - ASWA
  • Nadisha Senasinghe (Curtin University) - ASWA
  • Sam Cross (University of Western Australia) - ASWA

The ASWA AGM was held to coincide with the Annual Dinner and recorded in the ASWA AGM 2019 Minutes.


New Post - 14 November 2019

ASWA Annual Dinner and Prize Night

When: Friday 22nd November 2019

Where: University Club of Western Australia

Time: 6.30pm for pre-dinner drinks

Please reserve your tickets through trybooking.com.


Pork hock rillettes with toasted baguette and sauce gribiche
Vegetarian tapas
Gazpacho salad, goats cheese, arancini, olives and asparagus (v)

Main Course:

Roasted beef tenderloin with stuffed mushroom ragout, fried potatoes and red wine jus (gf)
Charred lemon butter glazed chicken confit with chorizo, potato mash and sautéed spinach (gf)


Whipped chocolate crème tulip with cocoa soil (v)
Blueberry pannacotta verrine with gingerbread biscotti

Freshly brewed coffee and tea

Cost: $80.00 Members. $90.00 Non-members. Three course meal and drinks. After dinner speaker. Annual Prize Awards

Please reserve your tickets through trybooking.com.

Download the Poster


New Post - 14 August 2019

Is it from the Dreaming or is it rubbish? The significance and meaning of stone artefacts and their sources to Aboriginal people in the Pilbara region of Western Australia

On Tuesday 10th September at THE LEFT BANK, 15 RIVERSIDE RD, EAST FREMANTLE (upstairs at The River Bar), ASWA's very own Dr Edward McDonald will present a Sundowner Talk entitled: "Is it from the Dreaming or is it rubbish? The significance and meaning of stone artefacts and their sources to Aboriginal people in the Pilbara region of Western Australia".

Eddie is speaking as a guest of the AACAI WA Chapter.

The talk is from a paper written by Dr Edward McDonald and Bryn Coldrick (Ancestral Voices Ltd, Ireland) and examines how meaning and significance are attributed to stone assemblages and their sources.

Download the flyer for more details, which includes what time, where to go and how to book. There is a $5.00 charge for AACAI and ASWA members.

New Posts - 7 March 2019

Review of Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt released a discussion paper on 7 March 2019 about the proposals to reform the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972.

ASWA members have contributed to the Draft Response which will be submitted to the Department for consideration. Please email the President or Secretary if you would like to offer comment.

In the words of the Minister's Media Statement:

The discussion paper for the review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 sets out proposals to recognise, protect, manage and celebrate the places and objects that are important to Aboriginal culture. Importantly, it also identifies a framework for efficient land use by industry and other land users.

Further information and links to download the discussion paper are available through the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage webpage.

Should you wish to make an independent submission to the Review, all submissions must be received by 31 May 2019 and can be made via email to AHAreview. Alternatively, there is an Online Submission Form available from the Department's website.

Please contact the ASWA President or ASWA Secretary if you are seeking to contribute your response through ASWA.

Heritage Practitioners’ Reference Group

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage has established a Heritage Practitioners’ Reference Group. Please download the Terms of Reference.

Brad Goode and ASWA President, Dr Edward McDonald are representing ASWA on this Group. The

There are also representatives from ICOMOS, archaeological organisations, professional historians, heritage architects and engineers. The inaugural meeting was held last week.

As part of this Reference Group process, the Department is seekiing to enhance professional development and the accreditation of heritage skills.

Please also note that this year’s State Heritage and History conference is being held on April 28-29 in Perth and a key aspect of the program is on ‘dark heritage’ and ‘dark tourism’.

Consultation process on the proclamation regulations for the Heritage Act 2018

The Chair of the Heritage Council wrote to the ASWA President informing about the consultation process on the proclamation regulations for the Heritage Act 2018. The full text of the email letter to the ASWA President is reproduced below.

Dear Dr McDonald

I am pleased to confirm that the consultation process on the proclamation regulations for the Heritage Act 2018 is now open, and submissions are invited until Friday 3 May 2019. Completion of consultation will bring us one step closer to new heritage legislation that meets current needs. I would therefore be grateful for your assistance in distributing this information through the ASWA network.

Issues covered within the draft Heritage Regulations 2019 include:

  • composition of the Heritage Council;
  • conflicts of interest;
  • management of Council and committee meetings;
  • form and content of the State Register;
  • pre-requisites for the issue of repair notices; and
  • standards for notifications, consultation and advertising.

To ensure that the regulations are given due consideration and meet the needs of modern legislation, the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage is seeking submissions from interested persons and organisations. To take part in this process, your members are invited to review the draft regulations on the State Heritage website and follow a link to the online survey hosted on the Department’s consultation hub.

Your members may also be interested in reviewing and contributing to draft guidelines for the creation of local heritage surveys, which replace the current heritage inventories. These guidelines are required under the new Act, and will provide support to local governments undertaking the review or update of their local heritage survey.

The guidelines include standards for consultation and the use of professional heritage advice, so may be of interest to those working in the heritage field. Further information on how to contribute to the development of these guidelines can also be found on the State Heritage website.

Finally, initial consultation is taking place to assist in the development of guidelines for identification and management of state government heritage assets. These will work alongside the Strategic Asset Management Framework to guide agencies in the maintenance, activation, adaptation and disposal of heritage assets.

This is an area that would also benefit from input from those professional bodies whose work relates to heritage management. Further information on how to contribute to the development of these guidelines can also be found on the State Heritage website.

If you would like further information on the draft Heritage Regulations 2019 or the implementation of the Heritage Act 2018 please contact the support team.

I look forward to your involvement in this process.

Yours sincerely

Anne Arnold | Chair - Heritage Council