Japanese geographic and ethnographic research of Torres Strait (Zenadth Kes) Australia: Rekindling connections 50 years on


Registration Link: https://anu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwtf-ihqDIjGt0f2ClW4LdXM2vJajof-Y5X


This seminar introduces a new project that reengages fifty-year-old Japanese research concerning Australian First Nations community life. The research involved large Japanese teams making multiple trips to the Torres Strait region during the 1970s and beyond. The team created an astonishing body of work including a large number of photographs, maps, musical notation and a multi-authored book called 'Toresu kaikyo no hitobito: sono chirigaku-teki minzokukaguteki kenkyu' (Oshima 1982). Written in Japanese, the research has been inaccessible to Torres Strait Islanders and broader audiences.

The current project which we will outline in this seminar is a contemporary collaboration with ‘Gur A Baradharaw Kod’ (GBK) Torres Strait Sea and Land Council and Japan's National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) supported by DFAT's Australia Japan Foundation (AJF) and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).

Our project seeks to reinvigorate public and academic interest in this significant Japanese geographical and ethnographical research about Torres Strait life and culture. The project seeks to reconnect people and research materials via multiple creative outputs. Working with Torres Strait Islander Elders, communites and cultural institutions and members of the original Japanese research team and their families, this collaborative project will support a greater appreciation in Australia of Japanese research engagement with this distinctive Australian region, while also fostering a greater awareness in Japan of the unique cultures of the Torres Strait, and rekindling Japanese and Torres Strait connections on which to grow future knowledge exchanges. 


Samantha Faulkner is a Torres Strait Islander (Badu and Moa Islands) and Aboriginal (Wuthathi/Yadhaigana) woman from Queensland. She is a published writer (non-fiction, poetry, short stories), community advocate (Torres Strait Islander, women, literature and the arts), and public servant. She is a Visiting Research Fellow with the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR), ANU.  

Julie Lahn is a researcher and educator based at CAEPR, ANU. Her research over twenty years has had a dual focus: to support improved workplace policy for First Nations public servants and to aid the relocation, reengagement and return of lost or forgotten cultural materials held in academic and cultural institutions, particularly Torres Strait cultural heritage. She convenes the Indigenous Policy and Development masters specialisation at ANU. 

Annick Thomassin is a Research Fellow at ANU. She has over 17-years of experience in the field of social anthropology and political ecology. Her research focuses on topics including coastal resources (co)-management, First Nations fisheries and environmental stewardship practices (Torres Strait and NSW South Coast), First Nations economic perspectives, Indigenous-settler relations and the entanglement of Indigenous and Western ontologies. 

Jacinta Baragud is an Iamagal woman from Torres Strait. She is passionate about improving access for Torres Strait communities to the results of research conducted in their region. Currently a public servant, she is also a Visiting Fellow at CAEPR, ANU. 

Updated:  27 November 2018/Responsible Officer:  JI Management Group/Page Contact:  Japan Institute