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The Australian National University

Professor Alan Rumsey

BA, MA, PhD (Chicago)
Professor of Anthropology and Chief Investigator, Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, School of Culture, History & Language
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

Areas of expertise

  • Linguistic Anthropology 160103
  • Studies Of Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Society 169902
  • Government And Politics Of Asia And The Pacific 160606
  • Language In Culture And Society (Sociolinguistics) 200405
  • Social And Cultural Anthropology 160104
  • Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Cultural Studies 200201

Research interests

Melanesia; Aboriginal Australia; linguistic anthropology; intersubjectivity, child language socialization, comparative poetics


I am currently involved in a major collaborative research project on 'Children's Language Learning and the Development of Intersubjectivity'. Other recent projects include an interdisciplinary comparative one on verbal art which resulted in the volume Sung Tales from the Papua New Guinea Highlands. (For further details including a CV and most of my publications in downloadable form search me on

Career highlights

Lecturer and Senior Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University of Sydney, 1978-1995; Co-editor, review editor and editorial board member, Oceania 1985-; Advisory Editor, Current Anthropology 2000-2002; Editorial board member, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 1999-2015, The Australian Journal of Anthropology (TAJA), 2008-, American Ethnologist, 2016-; Anthropological Consultant to Northern Land Council, 1980-1993, and to the Kimberley, Kamali and Yamatji Land Councils, 1998-2002, 2010; elected to Australian Academy of the Humanities, 2004; Vice President of Australian Anthropology Society, 2007-9, President 2010-11


Projects and Grants

Grants are drawn from ARIES. To add Projects or Grants please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  24 August 2017 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers