Dr Marie M. de Lepervanche

Marie de Lepervanche (centre) with co-author Gillian Bottomley, and Paolo Totaro, at the book launch


In 1962 Marie de Lepervanche returned to university for a second time after 12 years in the real world. She taught in the Department of Anthropology for 30 years, initially as a casual tutor in 1963 while a post-graduate student, and then at various levels of the academic hierarchy until retirement as an Associate Professor in 1993. Her teaching interests included traditional anthropological subjects, such as kinship, political anthropology and traditional New Guinea social systems, as well as her major research focus on non-European immigration to Australia and social inequality. Her first anthropological publications in 1967-68, 1972 and 1973 resulted from library research for an MA Qualifying thesis and were on traditional New Guinea social systems. Her later doctoral field-work was among Punjabi Indian settlers on the NSW north coast. This enterprise entailed a critical inquiry into the interrelation of ‘race’, ethnicity and class in Australian society, an interest that some of her colleagues labelled ‘not proper anthropology’, a label which amused her somewhat. A growing preoccupation during the 1980s with feminist anthropology and gender inequality accompanied her support for the development of a Women’s Studies Programme at the University of Sydney in which she also taught after the Programme was established in 1990. She had also been a founding member in 1980 of the Association of Women Employees of the University of Sydney (AWEUS), an organisation designed to improve the status of women on campus, a goal some male colleagues did not consider appropriate or worthwhile. With other members of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences she was also a founding member in 1980 of the Sydney Association for Studies in Society and Culture (SASSC), a cross-disciplinary association which held regular seminars and published books on various topics. Between 1979-1982 she served on the executive committee of SAUT (then the union body on campus), and between 1979 and 1987 she was an elected member of the Academic Board. In 1981 she was review editor for the Journal of the Anthropological Society of Australia, at that time called Mankind. Between 1984 and 1991, with Gillian Bottomley, she jointly edited and contributed to three books on the interrelation of class, ethnicity, race and gender in Australian social life. Various journal articles also addressed these topics between 1975 and 1992. With historian Barbara Caine and philosopher Elizabeth Grosz she jointly edited and contributed to a collection of feminist essays which resulted from a major conference on Women’s Studies held at the University of Sydney in 1985. Between 1988 and 2007 she also published various other journal articles concerning feminist issues. After retirement she joined the Independent Scholars Association of Australia (ISAA) and in 2000 became a consultant and contributor to Rashmere Bhatti’s project on a history of the Punjabi settlement in northern NSW where her original field-work was done. Listed below is a selection of publications.

Selected Publications

New Guinea

1967-8: ‘Descent, Residence and Leadership in the New Guinea Highlands’, Oceania, Nos.2 and 3

1973: ‘Social Structure’ in Anthropology in Papua New Guinea, ed. Ian Hogbin, MUP

Immigration and Social Inequality

1975: ‘Australian Immigrants 1788-1940: Desired and unwanted’ in Essays in the Political Economy of Australian Capitalism, Vol.l, ed. E.L.Wheelwright and K. Buckley

1980: ‘From Race to Ethnicity’ in Australian and New Zealand Journal of Sociology Vol.16, No.1

1984: Indians in a White Australia, Sydney, Allen and Unwin

1984: (with G. Bottomley) Ethnicity, Class and Gender in Australia, Sydney, Allen and Unwin

1988: (with G.Bottomley) The Cultural Construction of Race, Sydney, SASSC

1988: (with B.Caine and E.Grosz) Crossing Boundaries, Sydney, Allen and Unwin

1991: (with G. Bottomley) Intersexions: Gender/Class/Culture/Ethnicity, Sydney, Allen and Unwin

1991: ‘Holding it all together: Multiculturalism, Nationalism, Women and the State in Australia’ in Revue Internationale de Sociology, New Series, No.2

1993: Introductory chapter to Women and Anthropology, ed J. Marcus, MUP

2007: ‘Early Indian Workers in the Australian Colonies’ in Limits of Location – Creating a Colony, ed G. Poiner and S. Jack, Sydney University Press