College of Law, Anthropology, and Politics

Professor Graeme Were

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Key information

Roles
College of Law, Anthropology, and Politics Head of College Department of Anthropology and Sociology Professor of Anthropology

Biography

Graeme has gained national and international standing within the fields of museum anthropology, material culture and heritage studies.

His research has been recognised at the highest level, most notably in the prestigious invitation to present the biannual Curl Lecture by the Council of the Royal Anthropological Institute (UK) in 2011; the 2012 University of Queensland (UQ) Foundation Research Excellence Award for research on digital heritage, participatory design and cultural restitution; and a 2016 gold medal achievement award by the Vietnam Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism for his contribution to supporting Vietnamese cultural heritage.

Graeme’s most recent research has explored the relationship between museums, collections and social repair in Vietnam. Drawing on almost ten years of ethnographic fieldwork behind-the-scenes in key museums in north and central Vietnam, this research reveals the often unacknowledged role museums play in the process of social repair in socialist Vietnam. Through a study of a range of highly emotive objects, such as personal possessions, maps and charts, and pieces of plane fuselage, his research traces the way these objects play an instrumental role in supporting families who have suffered loss or injury in the conflicts against the French and Americans.

The work highlights the transformational nature of museums in the recovery of the past and how their collections seek to develop positive outcomes for individuals, families and communities, beyond the framework of the nation-state.