Dr Julie Lahn

PhD (Anthropology) BA Hons 1st Class (Anthropology & Archaeology) James Cook University of North Queensland
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: 61-2-6125 2053

Areas of expertise

  • Studies Of Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Society 169902
  • Policy And Administration 1605
  • Social And Cultural Anthropology 160104

Research interests

Indigenous Policy research:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Experiences of Work in Government Bureaucracies
  • Professional forms of Work
  • Anthropology of Bureaucracy

Current research engages a range of issues and insights raised by First Nations peoples in encountering professional forms of employment, particularly state bureaucracies but also the professions more generally. I combine qualitative insights, statistical data and policy analysis to progress the following areas:

  • understanding the effects of workplace cultures in retention and early exit (Lahn 2018; Lahn & Ganter 2018);
  • analysing obstacles to career progression (Faulkner and Lahn 2019);
  • engaging questions of value and contribution of First Nations peoples to contemporary workplaces (Lahn forthcoming).

Cultural Heritage research:

I also maintain an additional longstanding interest in conducting scholarship to aid the relocation, reengagement and return of lost or forgotten cultural materials belonging to First Nations peoples held in academic and cultural institutions including:

  • repatriation debates concerning the Kow Swamp ancestral materials, the subject of my honours thesis (Lahn 1996a; 1996b; 2007; 2014; 2020);
  • relocating cultural heritage belonging to Torres Strait Islanders notably materials removed from the region in 1836, renamed as the 'Lewis Collection' and held by the Australian Museum; some items escaped the Sydney Garden Palace fire of 1882 through prior transfer to the National Museum of Denmark in the 1870s (Lahn 2013);
  • reconnecting people and materials involved in the 1970-80s Japanese geographical and ethnological surveys to the Torres Strait region including Torres Strait communities, Australian and Japanese researchers and cultural institutions (Lahn 2018).

Researcher's projects

Rekindling Japanese and Torres Strait Islander Connections: Celebrating 50 years (2021-2024)

Co-Researchers: Julie Lahn (CAEPR, Annick Thomassin (CAEPR), Samantha Faulkner (CAEPR), Yuriko Yamanouchi (Tokyo University for Foreign Studies).

Project Linkage and Funding: Gur A Bharadharaw Kod Torres Strait Sea and Land Council, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka.

Project Funding: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Australia Japan Foundation 2022-2024, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Studies Return of Cultural Heritage Unit 2022-2023, Australian Research Council Discovery Project 2023-2025.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment in the Australian Public Service 1967 – 2021: A History of Policy Intent and Outcomes (2021-2022)

Co-Researchers: Julie Lahn (CAEPR), Elizabeth Ganter (CAEPR), Samantha Faulkner (CAEPR), Lisa Conway (Crawford)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce: Options for Future Policy Planning (2020)

Co-Researchers: Julie Lahn (CAEPR), Stefanie Puszka (CAEPR, Menzies School of Health Research, CDU), Paul Lawton (Menzies, CDU), Yonatan Dinku (CAEPR), Nina Nichols (CAEPR), Francis Markham (CAEPR).

Project Linkage and Funding: National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF)

Obstacles to Career Progression for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Australian Public Service (2018-2019)

Co-Researchers: Julie Lahn (CAEPR) and Samantha Faulkner (APS Secondee to CAEPR. Project Linkages: Australian Public Service Commission; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Senior Executive Service Steering Committee.

Project Funding: Australian Public Service Commission, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Reciprocal Accountability and Public Value in Aboriginal Organisations (2016-2020)

Co-Researchers: Patrick Sullivan (Nulungu Institute, University of Notre Dame), Janet Hunt (CAEPR, ANU), Julie Lahn (CAEPR, ANU), Kathryn Thorburn (Nulungu Institute, UNDA).

Project Linkage and Funding: Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre; Nyamba Buru Yawuru; Marra Worra Worra, Australian Research Council Discovery Project (DP160102250)

Understanding the Decisions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Public Servants to Exit the Australian Public Service (2016)

Co-Researchers: Nic Biddle (CAEPR), Julie Lahn (CAEPR).

Project Linkage and Funding: Australian Public Service Commission

Current student projects

Catherine Holmes PhD, CAEPR, ANU 'Children Have Big Stories: An Ethnographic Multi-Sited Study of Contemporary Ngaanyatjarra and Pintupi Children's Early Years Practices' (Chair of Panel)

John Morseu PhD, Centre for Heritage and Museum studies, ANU 'Ngay Badhulaig: An investigation into how Badu Island society sustains cultural Identity' (Associate Supervisor)

Nina Nichols PhD, CAEPR, ANU 'Between Community and Policy: The Capacity of an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service to Improve Indigenous Workforce Participation in Remote Far North Queensland' (Associate Supervisor)

Craig Ritchie PhD, CAEPR, ANU 'Culture and Policymaking: Towards Better Aboriginal Policymaking' (Associate Supervisor)

Past student projects

Susan Page PhD, CAEPR, ANU 'Beyond Black and White: Transformative Learning and Educator Practice in Indigenous Studies' (Chair of Panel)

Stefanie Puszka PhD, CAEPR, ANU and Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University  2021 'Moral economies of kidney disease and care: Interdependencies between Yolnu and the Australian state'. (Chair of Panel, Associate Supervisor)

Tjanara Goreng Goreng PhD ANU 2018 'The Road to Eldership: Following the Tjukurpa Way'. (Associate Supervisor)

Jen Malbon BSc Honours (Geography, Fenner) 2016 (Associate Supervisor)

Rosalie Willows BA Honours 1st class (Anthropology) ANU 2014-5 'The Value of Work and the Will to Improve: The Affective Atmosphere of Closing the Gap'. (Primary Supervisor)


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:  29 March 2023 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers