Dr Patrick Guinness

BA, MA (USyd), PhD (ANU)
Reader in Anthropology
College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Social And Cultural Anthropology 160104
  • Anthropology Of Development 160101
  • Religion And Religious Studies 2204

Research interests

Participatory development, applied anthropology, urban anthropology, Southeast Asian societies, especially Indonesia and Malaysia, East African societies, religious change especially in Islam and Christianity, globalisation. social and economic changes in Papua New Guinea, service learning through fieldschools


Patrick Guinness came to anthropology as a consequence of working on a cattle station and indigenous community in North Queensland. After his undergraduate degree he undertook his first fieldwork in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea where he researched folklore for his master's degree and later worked with the local Airmen's Memorial Primary School and the Department of Agriculture, Stock and Fisheries. After an absence of three decades he again returned to West New Britain in 2009 to renew community and research interests, particularly the impact of oil palm industry on the indigenous people. His interest in Indonesia stemmed from a two year placement as an Australian Volunteer Abroad in 1970-2 at the Department of Anthropology at Universitas Indonesia in Jakarta, He taught anthropology there and conducted research among the indigenous Betawi communities being absorbed within a rapidly expanding city. Several years later he returned to Indonesia as a volunteer researcher at the Population Studies Institute in Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta where he coordinated a large research program on Transmigrasi resettlement programs in South Kalimantan and South Sulawesi and taught anthropology. In 1978-82 he undertook his PhD focusing on off-street and squatter communities within Yogyakarta city, and has returned many times since then to renew contacts and research change in these communities. Following the PhD he became Advisor at the Social Sciences Foundation at Airlangga University in Surabaya, Indonesia which focused on improving the research skills of academic staff in regional universities. He then spent two years on an aid project in Tanzania, coordinating community data collection and consultation for a District water provision program before returning to Canberra to work in the Evaluations section of the Australian Development Assistance Bureau. In 1986 he returned to the ANU as a Research Fellow with the Industrialisation Project focusing on the impact of industrialisation in two rural districts of East Java and the southern state of Johor, Malaysia. He returned to academic teaching as a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer at La Trobe University 1990-1993 and then as a Lecturer, Senior lecturer and Reader at the ANU from 1994. During that time he has continued his research in Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Researcher's projects

Current Research Projects 
My most recent book entitled Kampung, Islam and State in Urban Java, examines state discourses of urban community and development and the local constructions of community in conjunction with and independently of these state discourses and policies. This book examines the changes in urban low-income settlements over the last thirty years under the New Order and Reformasi eras of central government.

Since 2009 I have been conducting a fieldschool in Indonesia, first in the kampung of Yogyakarta and then and then in mountain villages west of Yogyakarta city, with an emphasis on livelihoods, land accessibility and cash cropping. This has led to an edited book on the village and several articles on the place of service learning and research-based learning through fieldschools in development training In 2013-4 the fieldschool, run in cooperation with Duta Wacana University in Yogyakarta, was located in the North Maluku in affiliation with the District Government and in 2015-6 it was held on the islands of Rote and Sumba in Eastern Indonesia.

Since 2008 I have returned to an earlier research site in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea among Maututu Nakanai villagers and migrant oil palm settlers, focusing on land conflicts, oil palm production and religious revival in a rapidly changing society and environment.

Current student projects

The education of women in Papua, Indonesia, indigenous land rights in Malaysia. economic change in Flores island, charges of blasphemy in Pakisatan, restoring the rights of diffable people in Yogyakarta, religion and development in Sri lanka, engaging with horses in Iceland, temple worshippers in Inner China, political change and migration in Sabah.


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Updated:  16 May 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers