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The Australian National University

Dr Siobhan McDonnell

PhD Legal Anthropology BEc(Hons)/LLB(Hons)
Research Fellow, National Centre for Indigenous Studies and College of Asia and the Pacific
Other ANU Non-College Academic and ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
T: xtn 50092

Research interests

Siobhan scholarly interests include: Indigenous people and land; Indigenous people, gender and natural resource management; Legal and Environmental Anthropology; Polictical ecology; Customary law and legal pluralism; Pacific studies; Urbanisation; Cultural heritage management; Disaster management;  Climate change; Indigenous studies and decolonisation.


Siobhan McDonnell is a high impact academic who produces research work that informs public policy outcomes in Indigenous Australia and the Pacific. Dr McDonnell is a lawyer/economist/amthropologist with a PhD in Legal Anthropology. She is currently employed as a Research Fellow at the National Centre of Indigenous Studies and at the College of Asia and the Pacific.

Career Highlights:

Chief Investigator on a project looking at mediation in the context of family violence in Indigenous and refugee families (2017-2018); Researcher on an ARC Discovery Project on Climate Change and Gender in the Pacific (2018); Awarded the Australian Anthropology prize for the best thesis in Anthropology in Australia (2017); Awarded the Gender Institute prize for the thesis that most contributed to the advancement of gender studies (2017); Chief Investigator on a project for the Solomon Islands Governmnet to develop a land reform pathway (2015);  Principal drafter of a new set of land laws in Vanuatu, as well as amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu (2013-14); Legal/policy advisor Central Land Council (2003-2008); Project Manager Reconciliation Australia (2001-2003); Research Officer Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (1999-2003).

Researcher's projects

Dr Siobhan Mcdonnell is currently working on projects in Indigenous Australia and the Pacific including: 

- Climate change and gender in the Pacific (focussed on Vanuatu and Fiji);

- Land reform and indigneous land rights in the Pacific and Indigenous Australia;

- Urbanisation, displacement and migration in the context of climate change, disaster and eviction;

- Use of family dispute resolution processes amongst Indigenous, refugee and migrant families who have experienced violence;

- Concepts of 'resilience' and 'vulnerability' in the context of disaster management in the Pacific; and,

- How concepts of 'paradise' frame foreign engagement in the Pacific and are 'repossessed' by Pacific Islanders.

Current student projects

  • Maeve Powell. Indigenous Wellbeing in Urban Spaces: expressing voice through walking and photography in Canberra (PhD Thesis).
  • Meabh Cryan. Concepts of Land and Life: Contested Land Access in Timor-Leste (PhD Thesis).
  • Ed Wensing. Decolonising Property: How Indigenous and Settler systems of land ownerhsip, use and tenure can coexist in parity (PhD Thesis).
  • Evie Rose. Undervalued, Not Underwater: A Talanoa on Climate Change in Oceania (Honours Thesis).



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:  17 November 2018 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers