Honorary life Members are distinguished scholars who have been recognised for their eminence in and contribution to the profession of anthropology. Nominations for Honorary Life Membership may be made by any member of the Society. All nominations will be considered by a sub-committee of the AAS Presidents and announced at the Annual General Meeting. Once the title of Honorary Life Member has been conferred, that person shall thereafter be exempt from payment of all fees but shall enjoy all the entitlements of a Fellow of the Society.
Honorary Life Membership Nomination
Current Honorary Life Members
Late Honorary Life Members
A. P. Elkin
Michael Allen was born in Dublin, lreland, in 1928. He received his BA (Hons) in mental and moral science from Trinity College, Dublin in 1950 and his PhD in social anthropology from The Australian National University in 1965. He was appointed to a lectureship in anthropology at The University of Sydney in 1964 and retired as Professor in 1993. In 1978 he was an Overseas Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge; in 1982 Visiting Professor at The University of California, San Diego; in 1990 Visiting Professor at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth (Dublin); and in 1994/5 Visiting Professor at James Cook University (Townsville). ln addition to his extensive fieldwork on Newar society and religion, conducted mainly between 1966 and 1978, Professor Allen has also carried out anthropological research in Vanuatu (1958-82) and in lreland (1988-96). He established an international reputation with his first book, Male Cults and Secret lnitiations in Melanesia (1967). Other important publications include The Cult of Kumari: Virgin Worship in Nepal (1996), Ritual, Power and Gender: Explorations in the Ethnography of Vanuatu, Nepal and Ireland (2000) and his edited volumes Vanuatu: Politics, Economics and Politics in lsland Melanesia (1981), Women in lndia and Nepal (1982, with S.N. Mukherjee), Anthropology of Nepal: Peoples, Problems and Processes (1994), and The Dasakarma Vidhi: Fundamental Customs of Ten Rites of Passage Amongst The Buddhist Newars of Nepal (2010, original text by Pandit Asha Kaji Vajracarya). Professor Allen was Editor of TAJA from 1992 to 2005. He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia in 1984. He is currently an Honorary Professor of Anthropology at The University of Sydney.
John Barnes died on 13 September, 2010. John Barnes had a long and distinguished career in anthropology, both in England and Australia. He did his first fieldwork among the Ngoni of East Central Africa. After completing his doctoral thesis on their social organisation in 1949 at Oxford, he taught at University College London and then took up a Research Fellowship at Manchester University and began a new project on the social organisation of fishing and farming communities in Western Norway. Based on that work he made important contributions to network theory, of which he is one of the founders. In 1956 he moved to Australia to take up the Chair in Anthropology at The University of Sydney. From 1958-69 he was Professor of Anthropology and Sociology in the Research School of Pacific Studies at The Australian National University. He then became Professor of Sociology at Cambridge University, where he remained as Emeritus Professor and a Fellow of Churchill College. He wrote on tribal politics in colonial Zambia, social organisation in Arnhem Land and the New Guinea highlands, social network analysis, professional ethics, and the sociology of lying. Having retired to Australia where he continued to be active for some years, he and his wife returned to England when their health began to seriously decline. Writing his memoir (Humping my Drum) there, he expressed his feelings for Australia in the final words in the book: ‘though my head lies in Britain, my heart lies in Australia’.
Jeremy Beckett graduated with a BA (Hons) in anthropology at University College, London, in 1954. From 1955-7, he was awarded a Goldsmiths Company Travelling Scholarship to The Australian National University. He undertook field work for his MA (1958) in Western New South Wales. He then enrolled in a PhD at The Australian National University (awarded 1964), carrying out field work in the Torres Strait Islands. Jeremy held his first teaching position at Auckland University from 1962-5, then at Monash University from 1965-6, and at The University of Sydney from 1966 to his retirement in 1994, where he is currently Emeritus Associate Professor. His appointments have included Visiting Professor, Queens College, The City University of New York; Graduate Center, The City University of New York; The University of Texas, Austin; and The Humanities Research Centre, The Australian National University. Jeremy has ongoing field research in Western NSW, and with Torres Strait Islanders on mainland Australia and in the islands. He has also worked on Pukapuka (Northern Cook Islands, 1964) and Muslim Magindanao in Cotabato, Philippines (1969 -1979). He was Expert Witness in the Murray Island Land Case (‘Mabo’), and the Torres Strait Sea Rights case in 2009. His principal publications include: Past and Present, the Construction of Aboriginality (edited volume), ASP 1988 & 1994; Torres Strait Islanders, Custom and Colonialism (CUP, 1987 & 1988); ‘Political Families and Family Politics among the Muslim Magindanaon of Cotabato’, in McCoy (ed) An Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines, (Wisconsin UP, 1993 & 2009); Wherever I Go: Myles Lalor’s ‘Oral History’ MUP 2000 (with Myles Lalor); A Study of Aborigines in the Pastoral West of New South Wales (Oceania Monograph, 55, 2005); Two Rainbow Serpents Travelling: Mura track narratives from the ‘Corner Country’ (with Luise Hercus, ANU EPress, 2009); and, An Appreciation of Difference: WEH Stanner and Aboriginal Australia (with Melinda Hinkson, ASP 2008).
Vivienne Kondos passed away in April 2016. Vivienne was awarded a PhD in social anthropology from The University of Sydney in 1982. She taught anthropology at The University of Sydney from 1983 until her retirement in 2001. Her PhD research was on the topic of Goddess worship among Nepalese Hindus, and she has continued this interest in gender, power, and ritual in Hindu societies as well as developing new research topics in the areas of Nepalese politics and the Nepali diaspora. Dr. Kondos has published extensively on Nepalese politics, culture, and society based on fieldwork with Parbatya and Newar peoples in Kathmandu. Her publications include On the Ethos of Hindu Women: Issues, Taboos and Forms of Expression (2004), edited collections on The Politics of Ritual (1992) and Mabo and Australia (1995, with G. Cowlishaw), as well as articles and papers on goddess worship, fire-walking in Northern Greece, and contemporary Nepalese politics. In 2009 Dr. Kondos was made an Honorary Member of two Nepalese associations – the Newar-organised Guthi Association and the Nepalese Australian Association – in recognition of her many years of research in Nepal. She was a member of the Editorial Committee of TAJA from 1998 to 2008, and is currently an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at The University of Sydney.
Martha initially studied History at The University of Melbourne before moving to postgraduate study in Anthropology at The University of Cambridge (UK), then gaining her PhD at The Australian National University in 1983. Martha’s research has primarily been in Papua New Guinea, where since 1978 she has pursued both research and applied interests. To the detriment of her own health, Martha has pursued long-term ethnography in Milne Bay, addressing both classical ethnographic questions relating to matrilineal kinship and exchange, social, economic and cultural changes associated with colonisation and capitalist economic development. Known as much for her applied research, Martha has undertaken consultancies in development, as an advisor and consultant to the Papua New Guinea government, AusAID and several multinational corporations.
Martha has also been a strong supporter of women in anthropology and of gender issues in development contexts. Her most recent books; ‘Managing Modernity in the Western Pacific (2011)’ edited with Mary Patterson and ‘Women Miners in Developing Countries: Pit Women and Others, (2006)’ edited with Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt; reflect her core interests. She is a long-term member of the International Women’s Development Agency and a range of other advisory groups and committees.
Martha has made a major teaching contribution at the University of Melbourne where she began in 1994, after departing Latrobe. Her teaching was primarily in medical anthropology but she also taught and supervised in the Anthropology and Development Studies programs, in Gender Studies and in Social theory. Her supervising is legendary and over her career has supervised over 50 postgraduate students including five theses on social change in Lihir. At University of Melbourne she is particularly known for her mentoring and support of students well beyond their graduation, in co-publishing, assisting with publications and providing career advice.
Martha’s advocacy was instrumental in the establishment of the McArthur Fellowships in Anthropology at Melbourne University, securing a large amount of private funding for the University. She has also been awarded several ARC grants in collaboration with anthropologists, environmental scientists and geographers. Although retiring from her on-staff role at University of Melbourne in 2010, Martha has in no way reduced her contributions to the discipline. She continues in an honorary role at Melbourne and as an honorary Professor at the University of Queensland.
Martha has also made a major contribution to the AAS, as President in 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 and taking on the role of Editor of The Australian Journal of Anthropology where she has overseen major improvement to the quality and impact factor of the journal. She was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia in 2012 and is a member of the Humanities panel of the ARC College of Experts. A regular commentator on AASNet and other anthropological forums, she continues her long and mostly thankless contribution to the discipline.
Grant McCall is a social anthropologist working in Eastern Polynesia on the topics of memory, land, and labour. He has taught at universities in Australia and overseas and done extensive archive as well as field research. Occasionally, he likes to dress up like an anthropologist. Presently, he is very pleased to be part of the Department of Anthropology, The University of Sydney, whose regular seminars he has attended for years. Books, articles, and other activities can be found on his departmental web page.
Honorary Life Membership was conferred to Pamela McGrath at the 2018 AAS AGM. Pam served for 9 years on the Executive Committee of the AAS in various positions, including a long stint as Treasurer and culminating as President Elect/President/President Emeritus. During that tenure she was instrumental in the rewriting of the AAS Constitution and numerous other reforms related to membership categories as well as administrative and financial processes. She also contributed to the planning and organisation of several of the pre-conference Native Title workshops that have become a fixture of annual AAS meetings. As AAS President, Pam served as the AAS delegate to the World Council of Anthropological Associations (WCAA) and was the main designer of the Global Survey of Anthropological Practice administered by that organisation, as well as of the pilot survey that was trialled with the AAS (the results of which were reported in the association newsletter).
Pam has conducted numerous research projects on such topics as the social and economic impacts of the Native Title regime, Indigenous cultural heritage regulation, and the management of Native Title archives, and edited the publication The Right to Protect Sites, focussed on the management of place-based Indigenous heritage in the era of Native Title. She has recently undertaken research on the information management capabilities of Native Title organisations and the design of guidelines to assist Native Title holders in securing access to their collections of Native Title materials. Since her PhD thesis on social relations around cameras during the early years of settler contact with Ngaanyatjarra people of the Western Desert, she has also researched and written about aspects of intercultural sociality, identity and camera culture on the Australian frontier.
Pam contributed in all these ways to the discipline while holding a number of positions. She is an adjunct Fellow with the ANU's National Centre for Indigenous Studies, which has involved her with Native Title claim research, policy analysis and the teaching of Native Title Anthropology for almost two decades. She was a founding collaborator of the ANU’s Centre for Native Title Anthropology, where she worked as a Research Fellow until moving to the Native Title Research Unit at AIATSIS in 2012. Pam is currently Director of LPR Consulting Pty Ltd, providing research and mediation services for Native Title matters.
For all these contributions of research, professional services for Indigenous causes, and service to the discipline both in Australia and globally, Pamela McGrath is most deserving of a lifetime membership in the Australian Anthropological Society.
Nicolas Peterson was born in London in 1941. He was educated at Bedales and King’s College Cambridge, reading for the anthropology and archaeology tripos and taking his degree in 1963. In 1964 he spent a year volunteering at Tranby Cooperative College in Glebe, Sydney, as Assistant Secretary for Cooperative for Aborigines working with young Aboriginal men doing apprenticeships, and older people studying the principles of cooperative organisation. After a term of tutoring at the University of Sydney, he accompanied Dorothy Billings to New Ireland where they spent three months investigating malangan ceremonies. From 1965 to 1968 he was employed as the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies research officer in the Northern Territory, mainly to work with Roger Sandall, the Institute’s ethnographic filmmaker, on the documenting of ceremonies restricted to men. He enrolled for a PhD at the University of Sydney, carrying out fieldwork at the south eastern extremity of the Arafura Swamp in central north east Arnhem Land. Before his degree was awarded in 1972, he moved to a Research Fellowship in the Department of Anthropology, Research School of Pacific Studies at the Australian National University. Shortly afterward he began thirteen months fieldwork with Warlpiri people at Yuendumu in the Northern Territory where he and Sandall had made four ritual films, to further document Warlpiri religious life. In 1973 he was invited to be the Research Officer for the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Land Rights (the Woodward Commission). This involved a visit to north America to investigate lessons to be learnt in relation to the recognition of indigenous land rights that lead to a six-month teaching appointment at the University of Albuquerque in New Mexico. On return to Australia in 1975 he moved to a lectureship in the Department of Prehistory and Anthropology, as it then was, in the School of General Studies at the ANU where he remained until retirement in 2018, and is now an emeritus professor.
The cultural ecological focus of his PhD research gave an important place to territorial organisation that led to working for the Woodward Commission and subsequently to involvement in land claim and native title research from 1978 onwards, including the research for the test case for native title in the sea, the Yarmirr case, carried out with Dr Jeannie Devitt. The doctoral fieldwork resulted in a monograph, ‘Aboriginal territorial organization: band perspective’ (1986. Oceania Monograph No. 30) written in collaboration with Jeremy Long, and the work with the Woodward Commission in several edited books with an applied focus: ‘Aborigines, land and land rights’ (1983. AIAS) edited with Marcia Langton; ‘Cash, commoditisation and changing foragers’ (1991. Senri Ethnological Studies No 30) edited with Toshio Matsuyama; and ‘Citizenship and Indigenous Australians: changing conceptions and possibilities’ (1998. Cambridge University Press) edited with Will Sanders. A particular interest throughout these books and various papers has been remote Aboriginal economic practices and their significance for Aboriginal involvement with the mainstream economy. Other publications include, ‘Customary marine tenure in Australia’ (1998. Oceania Monograph) edited with Bruce Rigsby; ‘Photography’s Other Histories’ (2003. Duke), edited with Chris Pinney; ‘The Makers and Making of Indigenous Australian Museum Collections’ (2008. MUP) edited with Lindy Allen and Louise Hamby; ‘Experiments in self-determination: histories of the outstation movement in Australia’ (2016. ANU Press) edited with Fred Myers; and ‘German ethnography in Australia' (2017. ANU Press) edited with Anna Kenny.
Bob Tonkinson was born and raised in Perth, trained as a school teacher, and studied anthropology/sociology at The University of Western Australia under the Berndts, D’Arcy Ryan, and Peter Lawrence. From his research in the 1960s and 1970s at Jigalong Mission came two case studies: The Jigalong Mob (1974) and The Mardudjara/Mardu Aborigines (1978/1991), and data for both his MA and PhD theses (the latter at The University of British Columbia under Ken Burridge and Cyril Belshaw). He has since published extensively on that region. His Vanuatu fieldwork began in 1966, and an associated monograph was published in 1967. He was one of the early writers on the politics of ‘kastom’ in the Pacific and Australia and contributed significantly to this development in anthropology. He has held teaching/research positions at The University of Oregon and The Australian National University, and visiting fellowships in Europe, North America, and New Zealand. He is a past President of the AAS and Chair of the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania (which honoured him with Life Fellowship in 2010), and has for decades been an Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Council member and, since 1988, a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. He has been a Berndt Memorial Lecturer and Wentworth Lecturer. Besides his prolific research publications output, Professor Tonkinson is an outstanding teacher. He was the first University of Western Australia Professor to win a Distinguished Teaching Award in 1988, the inaugural year of these honours. He has served on review and selection committees for Departments of Anthropology at various universities in Australasia. His decade as Editor of the international journal Anthropological Forum has enhanced the discipline’s standing at The University of Western Australia.
Honorary Life Membership was conferred to Nancy Williams at the 2019 AAS AGM. Nancy is an Honorary Reader in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Queensland. Her numerous significant contributions over many decades are deserving of peer acknowledgment and celebration – especially since the unassuming and quiet manner of this veteran woman anthropologist seems to belie the continued importance of her work.
Nancy began her life as an anthropologist at Stanford University completing a BA in anthropology with distinction in 1950; she then had a 17 year interruption before she returned to complete an MA and then PhD in anthropology at Berkley undertaking fieldwork at Yirrkala in what was then the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Reserve under extremely challenging circumstances for a single mother with children at that time. Nancy’s seminal scholarly contributions from her work in NE Arnhem Land on the effects of western civil and criminal law on the Yolngu are summarised in two landmark books The Yolngu and their Land (1986) and Two Laws (1986) written when she was a research fellow and senior research fellow at AIATSIS. Other important contributions on resource management, traditional ecological knowledge and her research on development in the East Kimberley are published in three important coedited volumes Resource Managers (1986), Traditional Ecological Knowledge (1993) and Land of Promises (1989) that are standard reference books in Australia. All her research is as relevant today as when first published – if not more so.
On top of her research Nancy taught anthropology over many years first in the USA and then at the University of Queensland from 1988 till retirement in 1994. For 25 years post retirement she has been a dynamo, first as an adjunct professor working with Marcia Langton at the Centre for indigenous Natural and Cultural resource management (CINCRM) at what was then the NTU (Northern Territory University) and then continuing at NTU/Charles Darwin University as an adjunct professor till 2005 while also remaining an honorary reader at UQ.
Nancy has actively combined scholarship and teaching with applied and advocacy anthropology. Her expert advisory roles are too numerous to list but include important work with the Queensland Land Tribunal, on the Hindmarsh Island Dispute, with the Australian Law Reform Commission, assisting Aboriginal Land Commissioners and Land Councils in the NT, on the Native Title Practitioners Panel and on the Kakadu Research Advisory Committee. She has made influential submissions to numerous inquiries.
2019 seems a very appropriate year to celebrate Nancy’s eminence and outstanding contributions to anthropology and the association. Recently she has retired as co-editor of Oceania after many years of unstinting service. And it is rumoured that she has just turned 90 years of age.