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CNTA Offerings

 | Published on 8/14/2020

The Centre for Native Title Anthropology has a new website on which a variety of offerings can be easily accessed. 

Although many issues are directed to native title practice there are wider anthropological issues raised too. See the section on References and Resources where papers are posted.


We have produced a number of podcasts specifically for the website:

Here are some examples now available:
  • The role of anthropologists as Experts in Federal Court proceedings. This recording was part of the CNTA annual conference in 2018 but remains as relevant in 2020 as it was when first produced. It is highly relevant to anthropologists appearing in court as experts or friends of the court
  • Handling sticky questions in Court. In this podcast, Robert Blowes SC and Emeritus Professor David Trigger use a modified form of role play in considering difficult questions in cross examination in a native title proceeding. The questions go to such issues as the expert’s expertise or impartiality. NB: An outline of the presentation notes can also be downloaded from this site.
  • Professor Jo Mc Donald and Professor Peter Veth  talk about how archaeological evidence can contribute to native title claims. Jo and Peter have worked on a number of Native title cases over the last 25 years or so and in the podcast they discuss the disciplinary framework that archaeology can usefully bring to native title cases drawing particularly on several cases where they provided expert evidence.
  • In a podcast which draws from Peter Sutton’s 2003 publication Native Title in Australia: an ethnographic perspective, he outlines in conversation with David Martin a number of concepts key to the insights and reasoning  of  anthropologists working in the Native Title arena. These include Peter’s concept of
  1. 'core’ and ‘contingent’ rights and interests; 
  2. implications of the transition in Aboriginal landed groups from (typically) patrilineal to cognatic descent in post-classical societies; 
  3. mistakes commonly made regarding the concept of the ‘apical ancestors’ of contemporary landed groups; the differences between a cognatic stock (all the descendants of a given apical ancestor) and the contemporary landed group based on cognatic descent; 
  4. and the crucial role of choice of their landed identity exercised by individual descendants of a given forebear in establishing a cognatic ‘family’ landed group drawn from that wider stock.
  • Hear also Ophelia Rubinich’s account of issues women anthropologists can face in the conduct of field research
  • Listen to Kim Mc Caul’s interviews with Justice Mansfield and Andrew Collet about the role of arbitration in dispute management, including his own experience of this process in native title work.

Virtual workshops


A virtual workshop was held on 25 June 2020, on the question of rights to trade or to engage in commerce in native title compensation claims

Nicolas Peterson outlines the relevant literature on these issues, while David Trigger discusses how the terms ‘trade and commerce’ have implications for anthropologists. 

Two videos are available: the first records the presentations, and the second shows the Q&A session that followed.

The bibliography mentioned by Nic Peterson during his zoom presentation of the literature on the anthropological concept of trade/commerce is now uploaded to the Recent Events page on the CNTA website.
  • David Martin discusses Common mistakes in PBC design - particularly relevant to avid issues arising with compensation payments