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The Australian National University

Nicolas Peterson

Chief Investigator

Nicolas Peterson is Professor of Anthropology in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at the Australian National University.  My interest in visual anthropology began in the late 1960s when I was appointed Research Officer in the Northern Territory for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, as it then was.  My principal task was to collaborate with the Institute’s film director Roger Sandall, documenting Aboriginal ceremonies, mainly ones held away from public view. These were thought to be in danger of disappearing, as indeed some were. Over that period we worked on ten films together. I took a lot of photographs during my own PhD fieldwork, but it was discovering early 20th century picture postcards of Aboriginal people that got me interested in photography of Aboriginal people academically (e.g. see Early 20th century photography of Australian Aboriginal families:  illustration or evidence?  Visual Anthropology Review 21(1&2):11-26). Subsequently I have focused on still photography, co-editing ‘Photography’s Other Histories’ with Chris Pinney (Duke 2003). I have taught a graduate course on ‘Photography in Social Context’. Over the years I have picked up a few lantern slides of one sort or another and am very happy to be getting back to thinking about things photographic.

Updated: 18 February 2018/ Responsible Officer:  Head of Office / Page Contact:  Web Publisher