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The Australian National University

Dr Julie Lahn

PhD (Anthropology) James Cook University of North Queensland; BA Hons 1st Class (Anthropology & Archaeology) JCUNQ
Research Fellow, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: +61 2 6125 3166

Areas of expertise

  • Studies Of Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Society 169902
  • Social And Cultural Anthropology 160104
  • Anthropology Of Development 160101
  • Policy And Administration 1605

Research interests

Indigenous professionals, mobility (class), Indigenous public/civil servants, Indigenous sector-public sector interaction, organisational ethnography, social capital, urban poverty, Torres Strait, development.



CAEPR Higher Degree Research Convenor (2016-)

Convenor INDG8001 Australian Indigenous Development and INDG8002 Australian Indigenous Development (Advanced)

Career Highlights:

Co-Editor (with Dr Boyd Hunter) Australian Journal of Social Issues (2013-2015)

Native Title Consultant, preparing expert anthropological reports in support of Native Title land and sea claims by Torres Strait Islander people (1999-2004)

Researcher's projects

Cultures of Work and Achievement among Indigenous Professionals 

This research seeks to contribute to the emergence of a more complete picture of Indigenous life in contemporary Australia, one that includes a greater appreciation of diverse Indigenous cultures of work and achievement. Drawing on research which foregrounds Indigenous perspectives of professional work it details Indigenous experiences of combining work and family, considers practical insights for the creation of Indigenous friendly workplaces, as well as highlighting the variety of responses to workplace culture that exist among Indigenous Australians. 

Research highlights:

Lahn, J. forthcoming. Being Indigenous in the Bureaucracy: narratives of work and exit. International Indigenous Policy Journal 9(1).

Lahn, J. 2014. Indigenous Australian middle classness: expressions, debates, futures, Paper presented at the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences conference panel entitled ‘The Future of Class’, Tokyo.

Lahn, J. 2013. Indigenous Professionals: work, class and culture. CAEPR Working Paper No 89. Canberra: Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University.

Living Well and Local Conceptions of Development in the Torres Strait

This project seeks to understand Indigenous aspirations and collective ‘life projects’ for ‘living well’ in the Torres Strait and how they shape the character of contemporary economic activity by Torres Strait Islanders. Ethnographic research methods are emphasised in order to describe and analyse Islander experiences of significant economic change in the region over the last fifteen years, linked to the resolution of land and sea claims and expanding opportunities for employment in fisheries, public service, arts and tourism. The project illuminates locally salient conceptions of development among Torres Strait Islanders alongside local rationales and motivations in relation to diverse forms of economic action.

Project Co-Researchers: Professor Colin Scott (McGill) Ms Annick Thomassin (ANU/ McGill)

Project Linkages: CICADA, Centre for Indigenous Conservation and Development Alternatives, McGill University, CICADA Collaborator.

Current student projects

Tjanara Goreng Goreng PhD ANU 'The Road to Eldership: Following the Tjukurpa Way'.

Past student projects

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'.


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Updated:  26 May 2018 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers