Ute Eickelkamp, PhD
+61 2 9114 1379
Before joining the department as Honorary Associate and casual lecturer, Ute Eickelkamp was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow (funded by the Australian Research Council) in the School for Social and Policy Research at Charles Darwin University (2004–2009).
Her earlier fieldwork with Anangu Pitjantjatjara speakers in the Central Australian community Ernabella, begun in 1995, includes projects on the social and aesthetic history of the local women’s art style, cannibalistic imagery, and Anangu representations of kinship. More recently, she has studied Anangu children's social imagination and emotional dynamics through a traditional form of sand storytelling, after therapeutic Sandplay work with Tiwi children in Australia’s north.
She studied anthropology and sociology at Marburg, Berlin and Heidelberg, where she was awarded the PhD degree in 2001. She gained a Graduate Diploma in Infant and Parent Mental Health at Melbourne University in 2008. Ute compiled the bilingual book Don’t Ask for Stories: The Women of Ernabella and Their Art (Aborginal Studies Press, 1999); she co-edited with Gary Robinson, Jacqueline Goodnow and Ilan Katz the book Contexts of Child Development: Culture, Policy and Intervention (CDU Press, 2008), and she edited Growing Up in Central Australia: New Anthropological Studies of Aboriginal Childhood and Adolescence (Berghahn 2011), to be published in paperback in June 2013..
Research with Aboriginal people in Central Australia (especially Anangu), with a focus on children, art and social and cultural imagination. My ethnographic work is oriented towards questions about emergent subjectivities, historical consciousness (manifest in self accounts, play, art and work) and cultural notions of nature and life. I take much from psychoanalysis and have an ongoing interest in transcultural psychiatry.
Fields of scholarship: social anthropology, history and methods of the social sciences, developmental psychologies, psychoanalysis, phenomenology and philosophical anthropology
This is something about anthropology that I especially like: its attentiveness to things big and small – the existential human condition and ethnographic detail. To produce knowledge and understanding in both directions has been the lasting achievement of major thinkers and the bedrock of our discipline. And it is those very foundational contributions by Boas, Rivers, Radcliffe-Brown, Malinowski, Lévi-Strauss et al. that have made anthropological thinking and practice relevant across the disciplines and outside academia. If small by number, anthropology has created a cultural map of the world in its endeavour to answer fundamental questions about the nature of human existence. This tradition of knowledge and critical thinking that also recognizes the deep histories of cultural life-worlds, sustains us in our dealings with current issues and concerns.
My special interest is in symbolic productions of sorts - art, play, ritual, dreams – with a view to understanding what Castoriadis has called the ‘social imaginary’. I subscribe to that: Without imagination there is no reality. This begs certain questions, such as: what is the structure of the imagination in particular cultural life-worlds? How does it come into being historically and with each individual anew? How do thought and deed intersect in concrete situations? Put differently, I seek to discern links between human development, social practice, and cosmo-ontology. Social and cultural change and modernising processes, it seems to me, are also best examined from this tripartite perspective, which can be pitched at various levels. My approach centres on people’s experience; it engages psychoanalytic concepts because of the significance of mental life and the unconscious in human motivation. I also consider the import of what phenomenologists call the ‘natural attitude’ - enduring our world as if it had to be what it is. However, to bring in methods and concepts from other disciplines can create problems; I also agree with Durkheim that social facts can only be explained by other social facts. But, notwithstanding my view of the universal relevance of anthropology, I think our techniques of interpretation need to be re-assessed. More recently, I have tried to ameliorate the problem - analysis of individual experience versus analysis of social process - by working towards a person-centred anthropology.
Given that anthropology remains a niche-subject, my interest in psychodynamic theories - a niche within the niche - could do well with a further comment: Seeing people and interactions with a psychodynamically trained eye is like wearing glasses that you cannot take off. The same holds true for the comparative lens of the ethnographer-anthropologist. This, of course, is no impairment; to think about the unconscious dimension of human action is not reductive. On the contrary, it means adding another layer to everything else that anthropologists do - not unlike researching children’s lives, which requires that society as a whole is brought into focus.
- (1999) “Don’t Ask For Stories.” The Women from Ernabella and their Art - “Tjukurpa tjapintja wiya.” Minyma Anapalanya Ngurara Tjutangku Warka Palyantja Craftroomangka. Aboriginal Studies Press, The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Studies: Canberra.
- (2012) Online Proceedings of the Symposium ‘Young Lives, Changing Times: Perspectives on Social Reproduction’. Sydney: University of Sydney 8 – 9 June 2011.
- (2011) Growing Up in Central Australia: New Anthropological Studies of Aboriginal Childhood and Adolescence. London and New York: Berghahn Books (to appear as paperback in June 2013).
- (2008) Robinson, G., U. Eickelkamp, J. Goodnow & I. Katz (eds), Contexts of Child Development: Culture, Policy and Intervention. Darwin, CDU Press.
- (2012) Language is My Second Skin: Speaking and Dreaming between Germany and Australia. In C. San Roque, A. Dowd and D. Tacey (eds), Placing Psyche: Exploring Cultural Complexes in Australia. New Orleans: Spring Journal Books, 173–94. Invited contribution.
- (2011) Changing Selves in Remote Australia? Observations on Aboriginal Family Life, Childhood and ‘Modernisation’. Anthropological Forum 11(2): 131–51.
- (2011) Agency and Structure in the Life-world of Australian Aboriginal Children. Edited by Elizabeth Fernandez and Ilan Katz. Children and Youth Services Review 33 (4): 502–508.
- (2011) Introduction, in U. Eickelkamp (ed.), Growing Up in Central Australia: New Anthropological Studies of Aboriginal Childhood and Adolescence. London and New York: Berghahn Books.
- (2011) Sand Storytelling – Its Social Meaning in Anangu Children’s Lives, chapter 5 in U. Eickelkamp (ed.), Growing Up in Central Australia: New Anthropological Studies of Aboriginal Childhood and Adolescence. London and New York: Berghahn Books, 103–30.
- (2010) Children and Youth in Aboriginal Australia: An Overview of the Literature. Anthropological Forum 20 (2): 147–66.
- (2008a) Play, Imagination and Early Experience: Sand Storytelling and Continuity of Being among Anangu Pitjantjatjara Girls. In G. Robinson, U. Eickelkamp, J. Goodnow & I. Katz (eds), Contexts of Child Development: Culture, Policy and Intervention. Darwin, CDU Press, pp. 138-52.
- (2008b) (Re)presenting Experience: A Comparison of Australian Aboriginal Children's Sand Play in Two Settings, International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies 5: 23-50. (Also published online 15 May 2007 in Wiley InterScience DOI: 10.1002/aps.136. ISSN 1556-9187.)
- (2008c) ‘I Don't Talk Story Like That’: On the Social Meaning of Children's Sand Stories at Ernabella. In J. Simpson & G. Wigglesworth (eds), Children's Language and Multilingualism. London & New York, Continuum, pp. 79-99.
- (2008d) Robinson, G., U. Eickelkamp, J. Goodnow & I. Katz. 2008. Introduction. In Contexts of Child Development: Culture, Policy and Intervention. Darwin, CDU Press, pp. xiii-xxiv.
- (2006) 'Inscribing Freud'. A Critical Review of Celia Brickman’s Aboriginal Populations in the Mind. The Australian JA 17 (1): 86-104. (Review article).
- (2005) ‘We Make Lines, Follow this Direction, Then I Look and Go the Other Way’. Excerpts from an Ethnography of the Aesthetic Imagination of the Pitjantjatjara. In T. Heyd & J. Clegg (eds), Rock Art and Aesthetics, London, Ashgate, pp. 143-158.
- (2004) Egos and Ogres. Aspects of Psychosexual Development and Cannibalistic Demons in Central Australia. Oceania 74 (3): 161-189.
- (2003) Mapitjakuna – Shall I Go Away from Myself Towards You? Being-with and Looking-at Across Cultural Divides. The Australian Journal of Anthropology 14 (3): 315–35.