Anthropology Society, history and languages

Anthropology Society, history and languages

Anthropology is the comparative study of societies and human diversity. It asks interpretative questions about behaviour, meaning and value between different societies and cultures.

Our applied anthropology focus at Macquarie will ensure you have the practical skills – along with the theoretical knowledge – you need to understand the issues concerning diverse peoples of this planet.

Careers in anthropology 

  • business and government consultant 
  • community outreach coordinator 
  • community planner 
  • corporate anthropologist 
  • cultural adviser 
  • diversity consultant 
  • human resources manager 
  • multicultural liaison officer 
  • NGO evaluator or administrator 
  • policy developer 
  • public health official 
  • qualitative researcher 
  • talent management and recruitment consultant

Professional experience

PACE students and partners stand at the final art exhibition they have helped to produce alongside local artists in FijiAt Macquarie, learning doesn't just happen in the classroom. With PACE you can gain real-world experience, work with diverse communities and cultures around the world and make a positive contribution to the world around you.

Through Macquarie University's PACE program, anthropology students had the opportunity to travel to Fiji to extend their knowledge in field research as part of the Pacific Eco-Arts project. Over a number of weeks the students worked alongside local artists, took photos, wrote artist biographies, and created a number of videos for the project.

No matter what you decide to study at Macquarie, PACE has an opportunity available for you. Learn more about the opportunities available through PACE.

Our expertise in anthropology

Academic Staff - Lisa WynnHead of Department

Lisa Wynn

Lisa Wynn completed her PhD in Anthropology from Princeton University in 2003. Since arriving at Macquarie University, her research has gone in three main directions: research ethics, reproductive health technologies, and love and desire.

Academic staff

Name and contact details Research Interests

DENHAM, Dr Aaron
Title: Senior Lecturer
Location: Level 2, North Wing, AHH
T: (02) 9850 7564

Medical and psychological anthropology; child and maternal health; infanticide discourse, representation, and practice; development and health; divination and meaning-making processes; intergenerational relations; mental health; psychoanalytic theory and practice; historical trauma; electronic health records and patient-provider relational styles; West Africa; and, North America.

Title: Professor
Location: Level 2, North Wing, AHH
T: (02) 9850 8079

Neuroanthropology; sensory experience; psychological anthropology; sports, dance, and music; biology-culture relations; embodiment; physical training; human variation; anthropological and evolutionary theory.

GROARK, Dr Kevin
Title: Lecturer
Location: Level 2, North Wing, AHH
Level 2, North Wing, AHH

Psychological Anthropology; Psychoanalysis; Medical Anthropology; Dreams; Ethnomedicine; Ethnobotany;  Intersubjectivity;  Indigenous Latin America; Highland Maya; Amazonia
HERMKENS, Dr. Anna-Karina
Title: Scholarly Teaching Fellow
T: (02) 9850 8077
The Arts; Museum Studies, Religious Studies, Gender Studies and Conflict Studies. Areas: Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, The Solomon Islands and the Pacific.

HOUSTON, A/Professor Chris
Title: Associate Professor
Location: Level 2, North Wing, AHH
T: (02) 9850 8471

Political Islam in Turkey; republicanism, nationalism and identity; architecture and urban planning
JACKSON, Dr. Michael. D
Title: Professor
T: (02) 9850 8077
Location: Level 2, North Wing, AHH

Title: Associate Professor
Location: Level 2, North Wing, AHH
T: (02) 9850 7783

Sexuality and subjectivity; health and development; social impact of HIV/AIDS in SE Asia; migration and health vulnerability; ethnic minorities in the upper Mekong; drug reduction programs.

MARRANCI, Dr Gabriele
Title: Lecturer
Location: Level 2, North Wing, AHH
T: (02) 9850 8040

Anthropology of identity and emotion;Anthropology of religion (specialisation in Muslim communities);Anthropology and neuroscience;Youth and society;Anthropology of global social threats;Immigration and migration; South and Southeast Asia; Western Europe, US and Australia;North and West Africa.

RAM, Kalpana A/Prof
Title: Associate Professor
Location: Level 2, North Wing, AHH
T: (02) 9850 8016

Class, gender and development in India; Embodied experience and gender: rural women's experiences of puberty, maternity, family planning and childbirth; Aesthetics and Indian performance cultures: performance of power in everyday life, specific performance traditions in dance and music, intersection of aesthetics, gender and nationalism for the Indian middle class and middle class diaspora.

SENAY, Dr Banu
Title: Lecturer
Location: Level 2, North Wing, AHH
T: (02) 9850 8021

Anthropology of apprenticeship, pedagogy, and ethics; new dimensions of religious practice, new-age spirituality; global Sufism; Islamic arts and aesthetics;Sufi music' in Istanbul.
SMITH, Dr. Catherine
Title: ARC Early Career Research Fellow
Location: Level 2, North Wing, AHH
T: (02) 9850 8703

Medical anthropology; Global health anthropology; Health and social inequality; Maternal and infant health; Reproductive and sexual health; Anthropology of violence and social recovery;Political anthropology; Indonesian studies.


Title: Senior Lecturer
Location: Level 2, North Wing, AHH
T: (02) 9850 8121

Religion, ethnicity, migration, tenure arrangements, access to justice, governance, and non-state regulations

Title: Honorary Senior Lecturer
Location: Level 2, North Wing, AHH
T: (02) 9850 8622

Christianity, cosmology and identity in Papua New Guinea; myth, history and ontology; phenomenological anthropology

Title: Lecturer
Location: Level 2, North Wing, AHH

money, number and numeracy, metrology and measurement, standards and processes of standardization, movement and mobilities, the anthropology of utopia, actor-network theory and social topology, economic anthropology, China and Tibet.

Title: Senior Lecturer
Location: Level 2, North Wing, AHH
T: (02) 9850 8026

Indigenous Australia, race, the politics of recognition, Aboriginal expressive practices (especially literary), settler colonialism, Australian progressive social movements.

WYNN, Lisa Dr
Title: Associate Professor
Location: Level 2, North Wing, AHH
T: (02) 9850 8095

Transnationalism; medical anthropology; new reproductive health technologies; sexuality; the language of medicine; cyberfatwas; tourism and travel; gender; identity and nationalism; Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and Canada.

Professional staff

Name Contact

RAY, Payel
Title: Department Administrator

Location: W6A-12 FIRST WALK 615
T: (02) 9850 8077
F: (02) 9850 9391

Adjunct Professors, Visiting Fellows, Honorary Associates

Honorary Associate

Maren Tomforde

Honorary Associate

Sumant Badami

Senior Research Fellow

Paul Cohen

Honorary Associate

Estelle Dryland

Honorary Associate

Michael Goddard

Senior Research Fellow

Robert Norton

Study anthropology at Macquarie 

Explore and understand different ways of life and cultural perspectives, and learn skills that will allow you to contribute to community development.

Anthropologists generally obtain their understanding through participating in and observing the lives of the people they work among. Through this method, known as 'fieldwork', anthropologists gain a detailed knowledge of the cultural world of other peoples by living and working beside them.

The people anthropologists study may include workers on the shop-floor of a factory, people who live by hunting and gathering in the Amazon, corporate managers in the 'flexible workplace', indigenous Australian artists, farmers in Western Queensland, fans of Harry Potter books, opium-growers in the highlands of Southeast Asia, members of a religious group, migrants or refugees, tourists, or any people following a distinct way of life.

Although the social contexts in which they work are extremely diverse, anthropologists share a commitment to exploring and understanding different ways of life and cultural perspectives, and illuminating these for others.

Anthropology not only allows us to develop a sensitivity for cultural difference but it also allows us to reflect on our own cultural world with an altered perspective. Anthropology endeavours not only to "make the strange familiar, but to make the familiar strange", thereby encouraging us to challenge our taken for granted assumptions about the world.

It is also important to realise that anthropology is not only a subject of theoretical interest; rather, it has numerous practical applications. 'Applied anthropology' refers to the application of anthropological knowledge, theories, concepts and methods to concrete problems (e.g. development issues, including Social Impact Assessment, understanding of poverty, livelihoods or externally driven processes of change and their social and cultural impacts). Anthropologists doing applied work contribute to policy development and shaping interventions. They are increasingly employed in the development world, by government, non-government and multilateral aid agencies, as consultants and evaluators. They are also employed in the corporate world, for example in market research and consumer behaviour studies.

Anthropology broadens your horizons and changes your perspectives. It challenges our taken-for-granted assumptions about what is 'normal' and 'natural' by revealing the diversity of human experience and treating this experience seriously and with dignity.

Anthropology is relevant

Anthropology also deals with a number of contentious issues that are currently being debated in the media and other spheres of contemporary society: globalisation, migration, refugees, human rights, minorities, development, indigenous Australia, religious fundamentalism, drug policies, the role of health care and so on. Anthropology allows us to delve below the surface of stereotypes, standard media commentary and political rhetoric, to deepen our understanding of these issues and to be more informed in our views.

In this era of rapid globalisation, we are all being brought into contact with people from different social and cultural backgrounds on a regular basis. At work, while travelling, shopping, or even in our lounge rooms watching TV, we encounter cultural difference all the time. In this contemporary context, which is often characterised by misunderstandings, racism, intolerance and violence against others who are perceived as different, 'barbaric' or unworthy, developing cross-cultural understanding and tolerance are more vital than ever.

Anthropology is useful

Anthropology is not only a theoretical subject but has numerous practical applications. And this is not only the case for those interested in following a career as an anthropologist. Anyone who deals with cultural difference or cross-cultural situations, whether in work, health care, education or other areas of life, will benefit from the perspectives and skills that anthropology develops.

Anthropology also helps to develop a number of generic skills.

Anthropology helps us to deal with complexity

Human social life is nothing if not complex. Social situations, beliefs and practices are intricate and multi-faceted, often bewilderingly so. Anthropology attempts to grapple with, appreciate, and capture this complexity without necessarily reducing it to simplistic models of explanation. The skills and attitudes that anthropology develops in this respect therefore help us to deal with living in a complicated world.

Anthropology is interesting

If you are curious about people from different backgrounds from yourself and are keen to understand why they do what they do, chances are you will enjoy the perspectives provided by a subject like anthropology. Studying anthropology provides the opportunity to learn about a wide range of fascinating social and cultural practices, beliefs, attitudes, events and institutions. For many people, this in itself is a worthwhile reason for doing anthropology.

The Master of Development Studies and Global Health (MDSGH) course is a cross-disciplinary program that brings together expertise from the Department of Anthropology, Human Geography, and other disciplines across the University.

Unique approach to teaching and learning

According to Dr Aaron Denham, Lecturer from the Department of Anthropology and MDSGH program director, the course is unique because of its combination of coursework and applied research experience. Only few programs within Australia and abroad offer this kind of integration.

Denham says, "The program is committed to research and teaching at the intersections of anthropology, development studies, human geography and global health. The research focus enables students to gain valuable hands-on experience in ethnographic or social impact assessment methodologies - both increasingly sought-after skills in global health and development careers within government, NGOs, private sector, and research and multilateral organisations."

From theory to practice

Students of Master of Development Studies and Global Health will take foundational classes in development, research methodology, medical anthropology, and applied anthropology, choose a specialisation in Development Studies or Global Health, then complete an applied, research driven project. Students will gain experience with this project from its initial formulation to completion.

The Global Health specialisation will teach students the theories and methods for understanding the complex ways health and disease intersect with culture, society, history and political-economic forces, while students who undertake the Development Studies specialisation will learn the diverse theories, methods and relationships that seek, analyse, and/or bring about targeted change in the lives of people around the world.

Denham adds, "The program offers a space for students to frame and practically address the social, cultural and political-economic dynamics within development, humanitarian and global health practice, and how these dynamics coalesce and affect people's lives."

Better career opportunities

In the global health and development fields, employment opportunities increase for those who possess at least a graduate degree and field experience (work and/or research) and have a region and topic of focus. Many development, humanitarian and health organisations require a postgraduate degree for advancement.

Graduates of Master of Development Studies and Global Health program will be able to provide analysis and recommendations regarding community and development projects, feasibility studies, reviews, evaluations and social impact studies for development projects. They will also be qualified to participate directly in field research, and development, humanitarian and human rights field projects.

The Master of Development Studies and Global Health course will give students the competitive edge to pursue careers in government, non-government, humanitarian, disaster relief and multilateral aid organisations, or in groups concerned with human rights, indigenous issues, migration, or women's development programs. MGHDS graduates may work as in-country field consultants, or in immigrant or refugee assistance organisations and lending agencies that work in developing countries.

Designed for students coming from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds, the MDSGH course is suitable for graduates with social sciences, behavioural, or health science background, or for those with work experience as a development professional, social worker, or health professional. This new course is for people who envision themselves as someone who will be successful in immersing within the MDSGH program's cross-disciplinary dialogue, practice-based learning, and application of theory to development and health challenges.

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