Michael Cawthorn

Michael Cawthorn

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Personal profile

Research interests

University Fellow

Michael has seventeen years’ experience as an anthropologist in museums, Aboriginal organisations and government statutory authorities in applied anthropology and research roles. His work encompasses native title anthropology, Aboriginal material culture research, repatriation, cultural heritage management and protection, strategic planning and governance, and project review and evaluation. His research interests also include Aboriginal population processes and succession, cultural mapping, customary land tenure and genealogical research. Michael was previously Deputy Director of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) and the Strehlow Research Centre (SRC) and has worked extensively with Aboriginal communities in WA, NT and SA on applied and research-based projects. He has a strong interest in Indigenous community governance and served on the Board of Queensland South Native Title Services (QSNTS) from 2011 to 2017. Michael currently works as an independent consultant anthropologist.

Research Interests

  • Museums and repatriation of Indigenous cultural materials
  • Cultural mapping, customary land tenure and genealogical research
  • Indigenous heritage protection
  • Climate change and Indigenous population processes in arid Australia
  • Indigenous community and organisational governance.

Research Projects

Current Projects

  • Native title
  • Aboriginal population processes and traditional succession
  • Customary trade and exchange systems
  • Strategic planning for Indigenous management of country
  • Repatriation and the history and politics of nineteenth century European collecting.


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