Personal profile


Katherine is an ethno- historian and Indigenous Studies scholar using cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary methodologies. Her PhD, at the National Centre of Indigenous Studies, ANU, under Professor Mick Dodson was a history, biography and ethnography of well-known Aboriginal cultural custodian and knowledge holder, Lorraine Mafi-Williams, who invited Katherine into her teaching camp to film over a 3 year period. She has worked collaboratively with Indigenous groups and cultural knowledge holders to preserve and promote cultural heritage and local knowledges. She travelled with Wiradjuri advocate Isabel Coe on a cultural tour of England, Ireland and Wales, where Isabel lit fires for Peace and Justice at ancient sites of significance.

Katherine has worked at the National Museum of Australia, and for over 10 years collaborated with the Vatican Museums’ ethnographic section: Anima Mundi – Peoples, Arts, Cultures, culturally reconnecting their Indigenous collections with source communities around the world. During this time, as well as curating inter-cultural exhibitions, she was centrally involved in the publication of 4 large format edited books of 400 pages each profiling Indigenous communities and the Anima Mundi collections: Ethnos (2012), The Americas (2015), Australia (2017) and Oceania (2022).

Communities and Community Organisations engagement: 

Clans (or nations) in New South Wales since 1997: Bundjalung, Ngarakwal, Githabaul, Birripi, Thungutti. Community engagement from 2010 -2017: Tiwi people on Bathurst and Melville Islands (Northern Territory), Wunambal (Kalari) and Kwini language groups (Kalumburu, Western Australia) and Yued community, New Norcia (Western Australia). Native and First Nations peoples in the Americas from Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego regarding their museum collections (2011-2014). Specifically: Inuit and Yup’ik (Alaska), Kwakwakwatlu and Haida (Canada), Lakota (South Dakota), Hopi, Pueblo peoples (New Mexico), Taino (Cuba), Koguis, Guahibos (Colombia), Shuar (Ecuador), Shipibo (Peru), Qom (Argentina), Yahgan (Chile). Quechua e Aymara (Andes Peru). Community engagement in Oceania includes in: Bougainville, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Polynesia (Marquesas, Mangareva, Tuamotu Islands), Hawaii, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Aotearoa New Zealand, Papua (Sepik River), Micronesia (Palau, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Guam).


Research interests

  • Material culture, intangible cultural heritage and climate change
  • Museum collections and decolonisation
  • Oral histories, artworks, ceremonies and traditional knowledges that reflect cultural or environmental change. The degree to which traditional narratives including stories can tell us about past or future climatic events.
  • Drawing together multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural understanding of social change initiated by climate cycles.
  • Long-term change and continuity in movements of peoples, cultures and artforms around Australia, the Pacific and Mediterranean, from the period of the dramatic climate shifts of about 13,000 years ago until the present time.
  • How cultural practices and meanings are produced, circulated and exchanged. The creation of knowledge in inter-cultural spaces.
  • Preservation of cultural diversities and the repatriation of heritage. Limiting loss of cultural knowledge and safeguarding it for future generations.
  • The interface of natural history, long term human-environment interaction and local Indigenous values and world views in responding to contemporary issues of sustainability, planetary health and tippig points.
  • Indigenous activism, advocacy and postcolonial shared histories
  • Nuclear and environmental humanities. Local perspectives on the nuclear history in Australia and impacts of resource extraction.
  • The resurgence of place-based knowledge as it relates to resilience and the capacity of living systems to repair.
  • Indigenous and local perspectives of history, culture, power, leadership and advocacy, especially as it relates to places of social and/or spiritual significance.
  • How archetypal images and ‘wisdom literature’ can inspire ideas of planetary futures.




Expertise Areas

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, language and history
  • Other philosophy and religious studies
  • Critical heritage, museum and archive studies
  • Heritage and cultural conservation
  • Heritage collections and interpretations
  • Intangible heritage
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander curatorial, archives and museum studies
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander repatriation
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing
  • Environment and culture
  • Postcolonial studies