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Engaged Anthropology Fund

The AAS Engaged Anthropology Fund is designed to support innovative projects that will increase the visibility, impact and relevance of anthropology for the general public.

The Fund consists of AUD$5,000, out of which the Society awards smaller grants for individual projects through an annual funding round.

Only AAS members are eligible to apply for grants under this fund. See the application guidelines for more information.


Grant Recipients

Accordion Widget

Where the Kids Are: A Collaborative Exhibition of Tomorrow’s Anthropologists

How does anthropology assist diverse young people to understand their lives in times of global crisis and change? How can the exchanges between young people contribute to a more relevant and sustainable anthropology? Anthropologist Laura Moran will explore these questions through an online exhibition of youth auto-ethnographic writing and anthropological reflections. The online exhibition will be hosted on the Stone Soup website. 

This project has been awarded an Engaged Anthropology Grant of AUD$1,200 for the development of an online exhibition to be launched during Social Sciences Week 2023.

Beyond Refuge: Afghan Refugee Rights Activism in Australia

This project, led by anthropologist Helena Zeweri, seeks to showcase stories of resistance to Australia’s treatment of Afghan asylum seekers through oral histories of Afghan-led activism. Through hosting a podcast series consisting of five episodes, this project aims to centre how the Afghan Australian community conceptualises the relationship between borders, the war in Afghanistan, empire, and resettlement.

This project has been awarded an Engaged Anthropology Grant of AUD$1,780 for the development of a website, five-part podcast series, and co-written journal article.

'Turtuni sits in Murrukupuni': Making decisions with country

This collaborative film project explores how people on the Tiwi Islands care for and make decisions about ‘Murrukupuni’ (‘Country’), and what this means for environmental decision-making more broadly. The filmmaking project emerges from the research project, ‘Planning for Economic Development and Biodiversity on the Tiwi Islands’. As a part of this transdisciplinary project, Tiwi researcher Mavis Kerinaua developed the ‘turtuni story’. The story, which is represented in an artwork, encourages Tiwi People and stakeholders to engage in conversation about ethical decision-making based in Tiwi principles and philosophy. 

This project has been awarded an Engaged Anthropology Grant of AUD$2,000 to anthropologist Alana Brekelmans and Indigenous Researcher Mavis Kerinaiua in support of the development of the film.



Accordion Widget

How anthropology explains the effects of Australian asylum seeker policy

Anthropologist Hanne Worsoe works with "Rani", a woman in her early twenties of Sri Lankan Tamil background, underwent "fast track" refugee recognition in 2015. Rani is a pseudonym, given the Australian behavioural code she has had to sign forbids her from speaking publicly about her processing. Together, they will tell Rani's story and, in doing so, explore her lived experience of Australia's current asylum seeker policy, which has basic natural justice and human rights excised for the 30,000+ people living in Australia that have undergone new refugee processing.

This project has been awarded an Engaged Anthropology Grant of AUD$5,000 for the development of a peer-reviewed article co-authored between Rani and Hanne, and a podcast or Radio National program on Rani's lived experience. There would also be a more broadly accessible piece published in a weekend magazine or broadsheet, seeking to access as wide an audience as possible.

Accordion Widget
2021, Round 2
2021, Round 2

EndLine: Deathcare Workers and the Covid Crisis

Endline emerged out of a collaboration between researchers (Hannah Gould, Samuel Holleran) from the DeathTech Research Team at the University of Melbourne and Bri Hammond, a documentary photographer based in Melbourne. The project seeks to capture the lived experiences of deathcare professionals working in Victoria during the Covid-19 pandemic, using documentary photography, interviews, and participant observation. The team is currently developing an exhibition, catalogue, and program of events in order to share this ‘backstage’ world of deathcare workers with as broad a public audience as possible.

End Line pays tribute to the people who work in Australia’s deathcare sector, from palliative care nurses and funeral directors, to morticians, crematoria operators, and cemetery staff. The public exhibition will take the audience into the ‘backstage’ of deathcare, a sector that is mostly hidden from public view and is often stigmatised. In intimate portraits and in the small details of working environments, the photographs reveal death work to be an essential service and a practice of care, not only for the dying and dead, but also for the bereaved and the wider community. Theoretically, the project investigates the (in)visibility of labour involved in caring for the dead body within contemporary Australia. The research team, in collaboration with a professional photographer, has conducted portraiture photography sessions, undertaken fieldwork at funerals during lockdown, and interviewed key figures in the Australian deathcare sector. The resulting collection of stories and images powerfully communicates both the professionalism and tenderness of those who handle the dead, provoking the kind of big questions about life, death, ritual, and care that anthropology has been so skilled at answering.

The judges considered this an excellent project - timely, original, and political in both a nuanced and intimate sense. A public photography exhibition is an innovative way of getting people to think about the multi-modal ways in which anthropology is practiced beyond the text. The focus on “backstage” deathcare practices also helps demonstrate the ways in which anthropological approaches can shed light on the facets of crisis sometimes obscured in mainstream media platforms.

Endline has been awarded an Engaged Anthropology Grant of AUD$1,250 to support some of the public-facing outcomes for this project, namely the development of a public program of talks and events and the production of an exhibition catalogue.

For a sneak preview see

Music! Dance! Culture!

Music! Dance! Culture! is a new podcast which explores the study of music, dance and other performing arts across cultures. Produced by Mahesh White-Radhakrishnan, an anthropological linguist, ethnomusicologist, musician and Honorary Associate at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and Georgia Curran, an anthropologist and DECRA Fellow based at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney, the podcast aims to bring greater awareness of anthropological ideas relating to performance.

Music! Dance! Culture! is aimed at listeners who are interested in understanding more about the cultural aspects of music and dance but may not have a background in anthropology or ethnomusicology. The episodes will be produced in a way that will make them engaging to this broad audience through audio examples including field recordings, discussion with relevant authors and practitioners, as well as putting theoretical insights into more non-academic language with plenty of opportunities for fun storytelling. The intended benefits of this project are to make research on music and dance traditions, and theories of performance more accessible to a broader audience. The series aims to increase the reach of the work of anthropologists, linguistics, and ethnomusicologists to a broader public, and provides an invaluable opportunity for the participation of research collaborators and music practitioners.

The judges considered this a very exciting and feasible project, which builds on the applicants’ existing research partnerships and academic scholarship. An ethnomusicology podcast series is an innovative and relatable way of highlighting to public audiences the wide range of mediums and topics covered by the discipline, and to centre music in particular as a valid object of ethnographic inquiry.

Music! Dance! Culture! has been awarded an Engaged Anthropology Grant of AUD$1,250 to support the production of a pilot series of six episodes. This pilot series will explore the value of ethnographic research on music and dance, paralleling the theme of a special issue of The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, guest edited by Georgia Curran and Mahesh Radhakrishnan. Each episode will feature a guest researcher or practitioner of the music tradition being discussed, along with audio examples of music and insights into theoretical ideas.

For a sneak preview see this sample episode and keep an eye on the website for more updates.

Accordion Widget
2021, Round 1
2021, Round 1

Conversations in Anthropology

Conversations in Anthropology is a podcast about life, the universe and anthropology produced by David Boarder Giles, Timothy Neale, Cameo Dalley, Mythily Meher and Matt Barlow. It features interviews with anthropologists and anthropology-adjacent practitioners about their work, the state of the discipline, and the contributions anthropology may make towards pressing contemporary concerns. This podcast has been running since early 2017 with minimal institutional funding and many hours of volunteer time. To the team’s great credit, the podcast has built a substantial following over its 40 episodes so far, broadcasting conversations with a range of scholars including Paige West, Anna Tsing, Elizabeth Povinelli, Ghassan Hage and many others on issues of popular and public interest.

The Conversations in Anthropology team has been awarded an Engaged Anthropology Grant of AUD$2,000 for the development of a website with new content, with a view to broadening the podcast’s audience and increasing its accessibility. Developing this online presence will create a reliable and easily navigable repository for podcast content, including podcast-related news, publications and—most importantly—transcripts of its anthropological interviews. Such an expanded web presence and readily available textual resources will amplify the visibility and accessibility of the podcast, and by extension increase visibility and accessibility for anthropological research, both among anthropologists and members of the public.

The Familiar Strange

The Familiar Strange (TFS) is a well-known public anthropology project produced by Alexander D'Aloia, Deanna Cato, Carolyn West, Matthew Phung, Shan Lu, Timothy D Johnson, Clair, and Simon Theobald. Its primary outreach is a weekly podcast and blog, producing high quality content that has built a substantial following, including more than six thousand podcast listens a month across the world, with the audience primarily consisting of people who have an interest in anthropology but do not necessarily practice it in or outside of academia. The main aims of the project are to “to make the strange familiar" and to emphasise the relevance of an anthropological approach in both understanding and addressing complex problems.

The Familiar Strange team has been awarded an Engaged Anthropology Grant of AUD$500 for the transcription of a selection of popular podcasts, which will then be promoted across TFS channels, including social media, the website, blog and podcast. The team at TFS are firm believers that knowledge should be as accessible as possible. While interview and conversational podcasts are an excellent format for accessibility, they have their drawback for those with hearing difficulties or whose level of spoken English makes it difficult to follow an animated conversation. The transcripts will improve accessibility to TFS productions and therefore their ability to make anthropological knowledge more accessible and engaging to an ever growing general audience. Plus, they're great tools for the classroom!

Application Guidelines

What is an engaged anthropology project?

The principle aim should be to introduce and connect anthropology with those who may not be familiar with the discipline or the relevance of anthropological research and insights. We place no limits on what a project might be – a video, blog, podcast, performance piece, mobile phone app, public event – the possibilities are endless! We aim to support any project that engages a wider public and effectively brings anthropologists into conversation with a broad audience.

Given this aim, it is likely that projects supported under this fund will need to consider engaging anthropologists and their collaborators (their research, writing, insights, ways of thinking, voices) in modes of communication, information dissemination, or outreach that go beyond the traditional forms of academic output.

How much funding is available?

The Fund consists of AUD$5,000, which will be distributed through an annual funding round.

Applicants may submit funding proposals for any amount up to the maximum of AUD$5,000. However, be aware that the judges will consider the total amount of the fund against a) potentially multiple applications, and b) the funding requested for each project. The judges reserve the right to award a project with a partial amount of funding. In making such a decision, the judges will consider seriously whether partially awarded funding will affect the feasibility of a project – for this, the itemised budget provided with the proposal will be crucial (see below).

When is the funding round?

Applications will open on Anthropology Day each year, which is the third Thursday of February. The deadline for applications will be five weeks after Anthropology Day.

What is the time frame for a grant?

Projects should be completed within 1 year of the grant being awarded. In the case of a project that is ongoing (e.g. a podcast) then it is the specific stage of the project for which the grant was awarded that must be completed within the year (e.g. the launch of the podcast or the release of regular episodes throughout the period).

We encourage applicants to time events or showcase other projects on Anthropology Day (the third Thursday in February) and/or during Social Sciences Week (the second of week of September).

Ongoing projects and sustainability

The AAS encourages applicants to consider the sustainability of projects that may require ongoing funding. Although we place no limit on application submissions – you can apply over multiple funding rounds to keep a project going – there is no guarantee of continual funding.

Who can apply?

Funding proposals can be submitted for projects organised by an individual or a group.
  • For an individually organised project, that person must be a financial member of the AAS at the time of application.
  • For a group organised project, the funding proposal must be submitted by someone who is both part of the organising group and a financial member of the AAS at the time of application, and must remain a member of the organising group for the duration of the project

By what selection criteria will the proposals be judged?

Proposals will be judged according to:
  • the degree to which the project will increase the visibility, impact and relevance of anthropology for the general public;
  • how effective and appropriate the mode of communication, information dissemination, and outreach will be for the above purpose;
  • the feasibility of the project, taking into consideration: whether it has been designed with an effective and appropriate plan and time frame for implementation; the appropriateness of its budget; and, if relevant, its ongoing sustainability.

At the end?

All projects funded throughout the year will be acknowledged at the Annual General Meeting of the AAS. Where feasible, funded projects may also be showcased on the AAS website and/or the first AAS conference following the project’s completion.