Dr Gretchen Poiner



In 1968, after an absence of some years, I returned to university study and to anthropology. In the 1970s I taught anthropology at both the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales, the focus in Sydney being on Aboriginal prehistory. It was, however, my experiences of country life, in themselves a form of participant observation, which drew me to doctoral research on power relations – particularly those of gender – in an Australian rural community.

Over this time I served on the New South Wales Ministerial Advisory committee on Aboriginal Relics and later, during the 1980s, on the New South Wales Ministerial Advisory Committee on Girls in Education.

In 1982 I was appointed Research Fellow in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor at The University of Sydney with a brief to investigate the position of women there. Research on this topic, which I always saw as anthropological, resulted in several major research reports. During the near decade of my work in the Women’s Research Unit, as the section became known, I was seconded for a year part-time by the Office of Prime and Minister and Cabinet to serve as the Higher Liaison Officer in the newly established Affirmative Action Agency. On the establishment of a Department of Women’s Studies at Sydney I became Deputy Director and designed and shepherded through its postgraduate program. In the mid 1980s I was given a Visiting Fellowship at the University of Western Sydney.

I became a member of the Independent Scholars Association of Australia at its formation in 1995 and was later elected National President for a three-year term. Since 2003 I have edited the published Proceedings of ISAA National Conferences.

My research interests continue to weave the connections between gender relations, power and community that I see as imbricated in the development and affirmation of a sense of place.


Selected Publications

1992 The Good Old Rule, SUP

1992 The Gifthorse (with Sue Wills), Allen and Unwin

2007 Limits of Location (edited with Sybil Jack), SUP

1976 ‘The Process of the Year among the Aborigines’ Archaeology and Physical Anthropology in Oceania, vol XI:3

1979 ‘Country Wives’ ANZ Jnl of Sociology, vol 15:2

1985 ‘A Community in Crisis: Bushfire in a District of the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales’, in Australian Ways, ed Lenore Manderson. Allen and Unwin

1998 ‘The Women’s Research Unit: Being There’, Australian Feminist Studies, vol 13:27

2007 ‘Belonging: the meaning of place for women in the early settlement of New South Wales‘, in Limits of Location, ed Gretchen Poiner and Sybil Jack, SUP