Berndt Memorial Prize in Anthropology

The Berndt Memorial Prize in Anthropology of $250, provided annually by the Anthropological Society of Western Australia (ASWA) in honour of Foundation Professor Ronald M. Berndt and Dr Catherine H. Berndt.

University of Western Australia

At the University of Western Australia the Berndt Memorial Prize is awarded by the appropriate Board of Examiners to the student in any faculty who, in the opinion of the Head of the School of Social and Cultural Studies following consultation with the academic staff in anthropology, has shown the greatest merit throughout the year's work in a Level 2 or 3 anthropology unit.

From 1991 to 1993 the prize was named The Anthropological Society of Western Australia Prize and then from 1994 is was renamed The Berndt Memorial Prize.

Murdoch University

At Murdoch University the Berndt Memorial Prize in Anthropology is awarded for the best academic performance in the unit (AST212/412) Anthropology and It's Others or (AST250/450) Society, Culture and Ecology in South-East Asia or (AST258/458) Women in Asian Societies.

Annual winners are published on the Murdoch University website.

2012 Murdoch Recipient - Tim Hilton

Tim Hilton is the recipient of the Berndt Award at Murdoch Univeristy for 2012. ASWA asked Tim to let us know something about his experience at Murdoch and what attracted him to Anthropology. This is Tim's response.

My experience studying Anthropology at Murdoch University 2012

Why Anthropology (at Murdoch)?

Over the Last decade or so I have travelled extensively in the S E Asian region- living in Vietnam for a year, and in Indonesia (mainly Bali) for significant periods. In the course of these travels I have become fascinated with some aspects of these specific S E Asian cultures; pondering on the differing concepts of 'time', local attitudes towards ecosystems, forms of communal organisation, and informal social and economic systems which I encountered along the way.

In 2012 I was looking to return to postgraduate study and found that Asian Studies at Murdoch University, because of its focus on anthropological disciplines seemed to be the best fit to further explore those interests. I had also noted that Dr Warren, as head of anthropological studies, had spent significant research time in Bali which piqued my interest somewhat.

I might also note that my interest in Anthropology had been putatively spawned by a teenage reading of Colin Turnbull's “Forest People” (many years ago) where I remember being spellbound by the author's discovery that the famous 'molimo' hunting ceremony horn of a pygmy tribe, reputedly ornate and generations old, had been replaced by a discarded piece of steel plumbing tubing because it made a 'better sound”. As a musician this 'story' appealed to me, and the paradoxes thrown up by this scenario set me to thinking about similar 'cultural' questions in the long term.

More recently I have also had a strong (almost ethically driven) urge as a white urban Australian to consider my place in our own landscape; where indigenous cultures and their practices seem so at odds with dominant Western market-based modes of social organisation, and are often misrepresented, misunderstood or underestimated in a wider political context. In this sense the Berndt's “The World of the First Australians” looms as a significant recommended work, and makes me feel doubly honoured to have received the award from the society.

(" The Aborigines are not survivals with a stone-age culture. They are our contemporaries, modern men and women, motivated by the same basic urges as ourselves,but... with a different way of living, a different outlook, different values." The First Australians, p6.)

I found my studies at Murdoch to be highly rewarding- the subject 'Anthropology and its Others'- comprehensively canvassed the methodological debates that have taken place in anthropology from the 19th century through to the present; using S E Asian ethnographic films, fieldwork or case-studies to contextualise these largely theoretical aspects, and to situate them solidly within the region and ethnographic practice. I also discovered James C. Scott's “The Art of Not Being Governed”, an anthropological work which challenges the reader to rethink the paradigms concerning power relations between indigenous peoples and their colonizers in a quite liberating and novel way.

In this sense the subject encouraged its participants to follow their own interests, on the back of a systematic briefing on the theory and practices (such as fieldwork) so crucial to the discipline. Dr Carol Warren's Lectures were of a high order; stimulating, erudite and constantly challenging. Dr Wendy Grace, as an online tutor (and one-time winner of this particular prize) was inestimably knowledgeable, encouraging and enthusiastically responsive to my own (and others') contributions in online tutorials.

My other unit, “Society, Culture and Ecology in Asia” similarly facilitated a 'depth analysis' of the ways in which cultural and social organisation in the region has been intimately related to ecological concerns and the impact of colonialism on first peoples.

In addition to Dr Warren's again superb lectures, Dr Anja Reid was a skilful and encouraging moderator of online tutorials where passions could sometimes run high due to the dilemmas posed by our sometimes gut-wrenching case-studies and anthropological source material.

Again I am grateful for being exposed for the first time via this subject to the work of significant anthropologists such as Marshall Sahlins, whose “Stone Age Economics” seemed to me to raise some exciting counter-theories in the field.

Anthropology and the future for me?

I am continuing my studies at Murdoch University part time and maintain a strong interest in pursuing Anthropology as a specialization. Time will tell where that goes.

As a result of my travels and my recent studies I am still very much interested in precisely those aspects of culture which seem to simultaneously attract or repel visitors, expatriates, outsiders as they are exposed to other communities; how these visitors (perhaps colonists?) can themselves become legitimate subjects of anthropological enquiry in the course of such encounters, and the fascinating ways in which anthropology tussles with the question of the ways in which indigenous or local peoples might be enabled to truly speak for themselves.

I think it is anthropology's great strength that it can remain open to an immense variety of theoretical approaches, be applied to amazingly diverse social and cultural contexts; and yet still strongly values the rigour of fieldwork and ethnography, and importantly the primacy of human experience.

Previous Winners

Academic YearArrowUpArrowDownWinnerArrowUpArrowDownPrize NameArrowUpArrowDownUniversityArrowUpArrowDown
1991 Adrian Tulloch Anthropological Society Prize of WA UWA
1992 Laura Gladstone Anthropological Society Prize of WA UWA
1993 Beverley McNamara Anthropological Society Prize of WA UWA
1994 Gregory Nairn Berndt Memorial Prize UWA
1995 Raelene Smith Berndt Memorial Prize UWA
1996 Margaret Robinson Berndt Memorial Prize UWA
1997 Charmaine Cameron Berndt Memorial Prize UWA
1998 Fiona Michel Berndt Memorial Prize UWA
1999 Michaela Evans Berndt Memorial Prize UWA
2000 Frances George Berndt Memorial Prize UWA
2001 Anula Lorek Berndt Memorial Prize UWA
2002 Raymond Chow Berndt Memorial Prize UWA
2003 Lydia Lange Berndt Memorial Prize UWA
2004 Chantelle Belladonna Berndt Memorial Prize UWA
2005 Carmen Cummings Berndt Memorial Prize UWA
2006 Natalie Garcia de Heer Berndt Memorial Prize UWA
2007 Ruth Crow Berndt Memorial Prize UWA
2008 Sarah Metcalf Berndt Memorial Prize UWA
2009 Mystyc Metrik Berndt Memorial Prize UWA
2010 Makoto Takao Berndt Memorial Prize UWA
2012 Tim Hilton Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
2011 Katherine Zscharnagk Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
2010 Sarah Watson Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
2009 Ross Tunney Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
2008 James Ritchie Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
2007 David Cook Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
2006 Claudine Lhost Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
2005 Catherine Campbell Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
2004 Mahdi Farah Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
2003 Emma Wilson Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
2002 Tim Davey Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
2001 Tani Garde Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
2000 Aroha Greenwood Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1999 Jeanne Damasena-Adam Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1998 Valencia Chew Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1997 Kurt Stenross Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1996 Francesca Knowles & Sally Lawry (joint winners) Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1995 Penelope Claringbull Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1994 Juanita Doorey Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1993 Rachel Joan Drewry Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1992 Rebecca Charlson Hicks Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1991 Wendy Elizabeth Grace Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1990 Stephen Mark Dobbs Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1989 Linda Dorothy Delaney Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1988 T Hutchins Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1987 A Medcalf Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1986 B C Campbell Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1985 K J Hendy Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1984 J Williams Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1983 K Kato Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1982 R M Howlett Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1981 S T Ma & S S Holden (Joint winners) Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1980 Ernest Lang Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1979 David Roberts Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1978 Patrick Sullivan & Peter Lander (Joint winners) Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch
1977 Rosemary Brockman Berndt Memorial Prize Murdoch