Our Students




Why did you study Anthropology?

I've always been intrigued by other cultural practices and perspectives. I've been working and travelling to India for much of my life and wanted to gain the skills to look deeper at the impacts of changing practices of handicrafts and fashions in the region. Anthropology seemed like the perfect area of study with which to do this.

Why are you passionate about this topic area?

It's clear that we are living in a moment of immense change with huge potential for improvements for people. At the same time, it feels like every day there is more cause for concern due to growing problems of violence, pollution, malnutrition, racism and more. Anthropology provides an avenue to drill down on real world situations and gain some perspective on what is happening and why. Through studying anthropology I have learned the skills to research and analyse subjects that I am deeply interested in.

What did you enjoy most about Honours?

Writing my honours thesis was probably the highlight. At a certain point late in the process I had to focus deeply and so I turned off the internet, switched off my phone and went into my study for several weeks. Even though it was quite challenging there was also something very freeing about allowing myself the time to think and write. It felt like I came to a point of truth and commitment that went beyond my regular life. Having this time to immerse myself in my subject was a real luxury and inspired me to want to take my research further.

Matthew webb


Why are you passionate about Anthropology?

My research broadly concerns the relationship between media and society. How do people use media to create shared spaces of dialogue, and how do media practices and processes exclude? In my view, anthropology’s emphasis on long-term field research and the ‘everyday’ over spectacular media events, makes it best set to provide workable answers to such questions.

What extracurricular programs have you participated in?

Last year I travelled to Central Java as part of an interdisciplinary field school with the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We spent two weeks ‘hanging out’ with low-income market vendors to research the contemporary socio-political significance of mass-produced cultural artefacts.

I found that low-quality novelty trinkets, such as plastic figurines and die-cast models, may seem banal to tourists, but are far from meaningless to local residents and producers. Mass-manufacture offers Javanese minorities a platform to perform their religious identities and to strengthen their own historical narratives within the multifarious others of the modernising Indonesian nation. People also see these artefacts as undergirding a contested moral terrain of gendered behaviour and inequality.

What are you doing now and what is next for you?

My Honours dissertation looks at Australian Aboriginal peoples’ collaborative media production with environmental activist organisations in the Northern Territory. In particular, I analyse the shifting and uneasy connections and tensions where local residents and activist groups are forced to jointly articulate their environmental values and political claims in public forums. The next step for me is to develop a PhD project. I’m also an advocate for applied and public anthropology, and hope to use my media practice skills as a photographer and filmmaker to communicate future research findings.



What are you focusing on in your Honours year?

The areas of study that I focused on in my honours year included anthropology of gender and sexuality, as well as queer anthropology. In these bodies of literature, I saw represented for the first time queer people like myself and my peers. My honours project was an attempt to add to this literature by exploring how queer femininities were enacted in Sydney social groups.

What did you enjoy most about this major?

 The thing I enjoyed most about this major was the support and encouragement that I received from the staff in the department. From my honours supervisor to the participants in the regular department seminar, I was challenged to sharpen my critical thinking and encouraged to pursue my passions.

Who inspires you?

I am inspired by the people in the Sydney queer and LGBTQIA+ scenes who created the online discourses and documents that were the basis of my honours research. These are people that I share my social world with and whose day to day lives can teach anthropology and queer theory a great deal.


Alice McKenzie


What did you enjoy most about the Anthropology major?

Anthropology was the major that I loved the most and challenged me the most. In reading ethnographies from the past and the present, we tackled racism, colonialism, development, sexism, culture, society, languages, rituals, power structures, and human agency. I really could go on. However, this major completely flipped my understanding of the world. It made the world so much bigger, grander, complicated, wonderful and terrible all at the same time. It taught me how to be respectful and thoughtful of people and the way they interact with others and the world around them. But most of all, I will never stop wrestling with the issues in the world and never stop seeking to better understand them.

Who inspires you?

The people who inspire me are honestly my lecturers. I know how lame it sounds, but some of the most intelligent, thoughtful and kind people I’ve met in my life have been the lecturers in sociology and anthropology. They have such amazing experiences to share with us from doing fieldwork in post-Mao China, to living in Indonesian slums, working with meth addicts in Thailand, doing fieldwork with Manchester United fans, even working in Australia with new migrants and the LGBTI+ community. They love people and they love being able to come up with new theories that help us understand the different processes happening in the world. Most of all, they inspire me to love learning. Almost all of them were doing further studies, or writing books or preparing to go back out into the field while they were writing lectures and teaching us in tutorials.

What's next for you?

I’m applying to a Masters of Social Work. My study at Sydney University in the Arts department has given me a heart for the broken, the downtrodden and those who are experiencing hardship.