The Australian Anthropological Society represents the anthropologists of Australia. The goals of the Society are to promote the advancement of anthropology as a professional discipline grounded in the systematic pursuit of knowledge, to promote its responsible use in the service of humankind, and to promote professional training and practice in anthropology. AAS supports the development of the discipline in university departments and schools at graduate and post-graduate level. Through its annual conference, journal, newsletter and online publications the Society provides forums where anthropologists can engage in debates central to anthropological theory and practice.
Anthropology is unique among the social sciences in its focus on culture, and even more distinctive is our method of direct engagement with people through field-work. The ethnographic method, known as ‘participant observation’, means that anthropologists’ interpretations are grounded in experience of particular social realms. On the basis of long term personal engagement we offer understanding of cultural worlds that can both challenge conventional knowledge and present the world views of people who understand the world differently. Extended and participatory field work is not always feasible in applied work, but anthropologists still attend to the specificities of people’s lived experience and the meanings they attribute to it.
While historically associated with small-scale societies which were remote from the centres of world power, increasingly anthropologists have become involved in analysing the board-room as well as the bar-room, sporting tribes and nomadic professionals as well as wider systems such as capitalism and processes such as globalisation. We identify the myths of the rational as well as rationality among the mystics. Anthropology makes strange worlds familiar and the familiar world strange.
Anthropological work is broad in scope and includes academic research, teaching, consultancies and public commentary. The geographic position and colonial history of Australia have led to the development of leading anthropological scholarship and practice in the fields of Australian Aboriginal, Melanesian and other Pacific studies as well as Indigenous land claims and native title.
The Australian Anthropological Society is a member of the World Council of Anthropological Associations. Information on this body can be found at http://www.wcaanet.org/.
The Society acknowledges ongoing support and assistance from both the School of Anthropology and Archaeology, and the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, at the Australian National University.