Dr. Amanda Kearney


ProfessorAmanda Kearney
Office: AL-421 | Email: [email protected]
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Amanda Kearney (University of Melbourne, Australia, Ph.D. 2005) is a professor of anthropology who specializes in the “anthropology of human resilience and future security.” She has held tenured professorial roles at leading universities, including the University of New South Wales, the University of Melbourne, and the University of Adelaide in Australia, where she was appointed the Inaugural Kidman Chair of Australian Studies. She has also held visiting scholar roles at the University of Brasilia, Federal University of Bahia, Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg and the University of Southern Denmark. 

Kearney’s career has been distinguished by an over 24-year commitment to ethnography and collaborative co-designed research with Indigenous families in remote northern and central Australia. In these contexts, her research has developed with the kind support and intellectual generosity of Yanyuwa, Marra, Garrwa and Gudanji peoples, whose lands and waters are located in the Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia and Aṉangu – the Indigenous owners of lands and waters in central Australia, including Uluru. These collaborations have led to several co-authored works, including two books: “Indigenous Law and the politics of kincentricity & orality” (Palgrave Macmillan - open access) and “Jakarda wuka (Too many stories): Narratives of Yanyuwa sea Country and rock art from northern Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria” (USyd Press).

Since 2008 Kearney has expanded her research and community-based collaborations to learn with and from African descendant communities and affirmative action groups in Salvador, Bahia, northeastern Brazil. Her ethnography with Indigenous families in northern and central Australia and African descendant groups in Salvador Bahia, provided the context and opportunity to explore the long-term impact of cultural wounding and the liberatory praxis of healing that is creatively actioned by cultural groups in these two distinct parts of the world. She has published widely on this research, for example, in Current Anthropology, American Anthropologist, Ethnos, Journal of Anthropological Research, and World Archaeology. 

Kearney’s current research program focuses on pluralism and plural knowledges, kincentric ecologies, and cross-cultural approaches (Indigenous knowledge and scientific empiricism) to offsetting ecological precarity and better understanding marine environments and submerged cultural landscapes. She has received five federally funded major grants and extensive donor funding. Kearney has several research projects underway in Australia and will be seeking to build new research collaborations and generate student fieldwork opportunities at SDSU.

In conjunction with her academic career, Kearney has sustained a commitment to consulting and applied anthropology. She regularly provides expert advice on matters of submerged landscapes and underwater cultural heritage, underwater prospecting and Indigenous rights, intercultural ethics, and corporate social responsibility. Her Indigenous community-appointed roles have allowed her to collaborate with Indigenous families in their pursuit of land and sea rights, autonomy in land and sea management, education reform and creative pathways towards sharing knowledge of law and culture across generations. This has led to the production of a series of digital animations and supporting educational materials at the request of remote communities in northern Australia.

Kearney is also the current editor-in-Chief of Anthropological Forum, a journal committed to identifying and nurturing the future of anthropology in a rapidly changing world. 

  • Applied Anthropology/Engaged Anthropology
  • Socio-cultural Anthropology
  • Ethnography
  • Indigenous land and sea rights
  • Maritime cultures
  • Plural knowledges
  • Ecological precarity
  • Ethics
  • Reflexivity
  • Human resilience & future security
  • Ocean crises and climate change

Kearney, A. 2022. Keeping Company: An Anthropology of Being-in-Relation. Routledge: Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

Kearney, A. 2017. Violence in Place: Cultural and Environmental Wounding. Abingdon, Oxfordshire Routledge.

Kearney, A. 2014. Cultural Wounding, Healing and Emerging Ethnicities. NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kearney, A., J. Bradley, D. Norman, M. Timothy, V. Dodd, G. Friday and A. Karrakayny – Yanyuwa Elders. 2023. Indigenous Law and the politics of kincentricity & orality. Palgrave Pivot Series. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, Open Access.

li-Yanyuwa li-Wirdiwalangu Elders Group, L. Brady, J. Bradley, A. Kearney. 2023.  Jakarda wuka (Too many stories): Narratives of Yanyuwa sea Country and rock art from northern Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria. Sydney, NSW: University of Sydney Press.

Kearney, A. and J., Bradley. 2020. Reflexive Ethnographic Practice: Three generations of social researchers in one place. NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kearney, A., M, O’Leary and S, Platten. 2023. Sea Country: Plurality and knowledge of saltwater territories in Indigenous Australian contexts. The Geographical Journal Vol.189(1): 104-116.

Kearney. A. 2022. ‘The law has changed, and you can get some of your land back…’: Aboriginal Land Rights, Subjection and the Law. In The Cambridge Legal History of Australia, edited by P, Cane and L, Ford and M, McMillan, pp. 354-376. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kearney, A. 2021. To cut down the Dreaming: Epistemic violence, ambivalence, and the logic of coloniality. Anthropological Forum, Special issue: Axioms of Violence, edited by S, Pipyrou and A, Sorge. Vol 31(3): 312-334.

Yanyuwa Aboriginal Families, A. Kearney and J. Bradley. 2021. From Sorcery to Laboratory: Pandemics and Yanyuwa experiences of viral vulnerability. Oceania Vol.91(1): 64-85.

Kearney, A., J. Bradley and L.M. Brady. 2020. Nalangkulurru, the Spirit People and the Black-Nosed Python: Ontological self-determination and Yanyuwa rock art, northern Australia’s Gulf country. American Anthropologist Vol.123(1): 67-81.

Bradley, J., L.M. Brady, A. Kearney and D. Wesley. 2020. A rare miniature and small-scale stencil assemblage from northern Australia's Gulf of Carpentaria region: replication and insights into its meaning and symbolism. Antiquity Vol.94(375): 780-796.

Also features in Nature May 2020.

Judd, B., Kearney, A., Hallinan, C., Schlesinger, C., J. Cheer and K. Reeves. 2019. After the climb: how new tourism opportunities can empower the traditional owners of Uluru. The Conversation.

Kearney, A. 2019. Interculturalism and Responsive Reflexivity in a Settler Colonial Context. Religions Vol. 10: 199.

Kearney, A., J. Bradley & L. Brady. 2019. Kincentric Ecology, Species Maintenance and the Relational Power of Place in Northern Australia. Oceania Vol.89(3): 316-335.

Kearney, A. 2018. Intimacy and Distance: Indigenous relationships to country in northern Australia.  Ethnos. Vol.83(1): 172-191.

Kearney, A. 2018. Returning to that which was never lost: Indigenous Australian saltwater identities, a history of Australian land claims and the paradox of return. History and Anthropology Vol. 29(2): 184-203.

Kearney, A., Brady, L. and J, Bradley. 2018. A Place of Substance: Stories of Indigenous place meaning in the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia. Journal of Anthropological Research Vol.74(3): 360-387.

Brady, L., J, Bradley and A., Kearney. 2016. Negotiating Yanyuwa Rock Art: Relational and affectual experiences of place in the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia. Current Anthropology Vol.57(1):28-52.

Kearney, A., and L, Brady. 2016. Sitting in the Gap: Ethnoarchaeology, rock art and methodological openness. World Archaeology – Debates issue. Vol.48(5): 642-655.

Kearney, A. and J. Bradley. 2015. When a long way in a bark canoe becomes a quick trip in a boat: Changing relationships to sea Country and Yanyuwa watercraft technology. Quaternary International Vol.385: 166-176.

Kearney, A. 2014. Ethnicity, Cultural Wounding and the Healing Project: What happens when the wounded survive? Ethnicities Vol. 15 (4): 597-614.

Kearney, A. and J, Bradley. 2009. Too strong to ever not be there: Place names and emotional geographies. Journal of Social and Cultural Geography Vol.10 (1): 77-94.

Kearney, A. 2009. Homeland Emotion: An emotional geography of heritage and homeland. International Journal of Heritage Studies Vol.15 (2-3): 209-222.

Kearney, A. 2009. Intangible Cultural Heritage: Global awareness and local interest. In W., Logan and L., Smith (eds) Key Issues in Cultural Heritage. Pp. 209-226. London: Routledge.

Yanyuwa Families, J., Bradley, A., Kearney, T., Chandler, B., McKee and C., Ung. 2012. The Groper Dreaming. Monash University: Digital Animation Project.

Yanyuwa Families, J., Bradley, A., Kearney, T., Chandler, B., McKee and C., Ung. 2010. The Dreamings from Saltwater Country. Monash University: Digital Animation Project