Dr Diana James

BA,Macquarie University; Grad Dip (T.E.S.L.) University of Sydney; PhD Australian National University.
Honorary Fellow
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: 02 61250338

Areas of expertise

  • Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Cultural Studies 200201
  • Comparative And Cross Cultural Education 130302
  • Tourism 1506
  • Performing Arts And Creative Writing 1904
  • Visual Arts And Crafts 1905

Research interests

Indigenous cultural and ecological knowledge.

Visual anthropology.

Performance and visual arts.

Western Desert language, oral song cycles, storytelling and music.

Cross-cultural translation of philosophy, metaphors and meaning.


Diana is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Research School for Humanities and The Arts at ANU. Recently the Senior Research Associate and Project Coordinator of the ARC Linkage Project Songlines of the Western Desert. A collaborative project with the elders, artists, dancers and singers of the APY, Ngaanyatjarra and Martu Lands of the Western Desert. It brings together Indigenous knowledge holders with researchers in the arts, humanities and ecological sciences in a collaborative investigation of Songlines.Diana has worked as an anthropologist and bilingual interpreter in the Western Desert over the last forty years engaged in community research projects in the arts, education, governance, economic enterprise and Indigenous tourism development.  

Researcher's projects

Alive with the Dreaming! Songlines of the Western Desert ARC Linkage Project.

The aim of the Songlines research project was to explore the interrelated strands of Indigenous knowledge within and transmitted through ‘open’ (non-restricted) teachings of Tjukurpa law and culture of the Western Desert. Tjukurpa has been orally transmitted over thousands of years through the mnemonic device of long song sagas that in chapter and verse recount the acts of the Creation Ancestors forming the land, law, language and kinship relationships that connect Indigenous peoples over vast stretches of the deserts of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia. The Ngaanyatjarra Lands comprising a vast area of Western Australia (250,000 km2) adjoining the Northern Territory and the South Australian lands of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara people  (100,000  km2) are the key research region for the Wati Ngintaka and Seven Sister’s Tjukurpa Songlines.




Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  25 June 2019 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers