Professor Rosita Henry is an anthropologist whose research concerns the political economy of public performances, cultural festivals, heritage claims and disputes, land tenure conflict and the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the state. In that regard, she has worked, and continues to work, on a number of related research projects, with particular ethnographic focus on peoples and societies in the tropical north of Australia and in Papua New Guinea.

  • AN1001: Anthropology: Cultural Diversity in Global Perspective (Level 1; CNS & TSV)
  • AN2004: Medical Anthropology: Health, Science and Biopolitics (Level 2; TSV)
  • AN2114: Australia through Time and Place (Level 2; CNS)
  • AN3008: Myth, Ritual and Religion (Level 3; CNS)
  • AN4006: Anthropological Theory (Level 4; TSV)
  • AN4007: Ethnographic Research Methods (Level 4; TSV)
  • SS1010: Australian People: Indigeneity and Multiculturalism (Level 1; CNS & TSV)
  • Planning for Later Life among Papua New Guineans in North Queensland. ARC Discovery project. This continuing study is being conducted with Dr Michael Wood, James Cook University, and Professor Karen Sykes, University of Manchester, England. The study is contributing to knowledge and understanding of the importance of intergenerational and transnational relations in the care of the elderly.
  • Gender and Social Change in PNG: I have researched and completed a biographical ethnography on gender, politics and changing values of land in Papua New Guinea, focusing on the life of a woman of the Western Highlands, Maggie Wilson. This has been published by MacFarland Press (2019).
  • I am a member of the Pacific Women's Political Empowerment Research Group within the Cairns Institute.
  • Objects of Possession: Artefact Transactions in the Wet Tropics of North Queensland: I was the team leader of this ARC Discovery project, conducted in collaboration with Associate Professor Russell McGregor, Dr Michael Wood, Dr Shelley Greer, Professor Ton Otto and Dr Maureen Fuary. The project concerned ethnographic collecting in the Wet Tropics of North Queensland and contemporary Indigenous engagement with the ‘artefacts’ collected. We sought to explore the diverse ways in which Aboriginal peoples, collectors and museums have expressed their interests and property rights and values in the collected artefacts. Further research in this area is planned.
  • I am a member of the Visual, Digital and Material Culture Research Group (attached to the Creative Ecologies research theme) within the Cairns Institute. I am currently supervising several of research students whose work falls within this area of research interest.
  • Cultural festivals in Australia and the Pacific: I collaborated with Barbara Glowczewski (CNRS) and Marcia Langton (University of Melbourne), to establish in 2003 a French/Australian network: Strategies of Communication: Cultural festivals and New Technologies. The key outcome of this collaboration was the book Le Défi Indigène, Entre Spectacle et Politique (2007), which has since been updated and published in English by Bardwell Press, Oxford as The Challenge of Indigenous People: Spectacle or Politics? (2011). I was a member of Pacific Alternatives, a major research programme involving an international network of researchers working on political innovation and heritage in Oceania, led by Professor Edvard Hviding and funded by the Norwegian Research Council through the University of Bergen. My project within this programme was entitled Intangible cultural heritage and the innovative politics of cultural festivals in Australia and the Pacific. I have a continuing research interest Festivals (although currently unfunded).
  • Cosmo-Political Landscapes (Cape York-Torres Strait): I am collaborating on a project (currently unfunded) led by Dr Shelley Greer and Dr Susan McIntyre- Tamwoy aiming to understand historical cosmo-political landscapes in the borderlands between Australia and Papua New Guinea. We are focusing on mainland (Australian Aboriginal) contributions to networks of trade and exchange through Cape York-Torres Strait, and how these have changed as a result of colonization processes and climate change.
  • 1992 to present - Anthropologist, James Cook University (Cairns)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • Research Fellow, The Cairns Institute
  • Fellow, Australian Anthropological Society
  • 2018 - Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute
  • Member, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  • International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES)
  • 2015 - Australian Association of Pacific Studies
  • Chair of the Ethics Taskforce of the World Council of Anthropological Associations (WCAA)
  • 2013 - President Emerita, Australian Anthropological Society
  • 2011 to 2012 - President, Australian Anthropological Society

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 50+ research outputs authored by Prof Rosita Henry from 2000 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Planning for later life: An ethnographic analysis of ageing among Transnational Papua New Guineans

Indicative Funding
$236,510 over 7 years
This project addresses the global problem of ageing populations by looking at how transnational Papua New Guinean families plan for old age. We explore how Papua New Guineans resident in North Queensland make specific decisions about later life that balance the value of relations with kin, friends, neighbours while also dealing with the social services provided by the state and the market. We describe the tensions that emerge in transnational decision making concerning old age. The resulting knowledge of how Papua New Guineans prepare for old age will help to critically inform policies concerning the wellbeing of people engaged with ageing.
Rosita Henry and Michael Wood in collaboration with Karen Sykes (College of Arts, Society & Education and University of Manchester)
Ageing; Papua New Guinea; Migrants

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • DEATHS OUT OF CUSTODY (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • RE-CASTING THE PAST: MODERN CULTURAL HEIRS OF ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS A Study of Esoteric Belief & Practice, Sacred Landscapes & The Power of Place Through the Lens of Egyptian World Heritage Sites Karnak, Philae & Giza An Archaeological & Anthropological I (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Moana Perspectives on the Ocean and Climate Change: Using Ta Va Theory to Represent Pasifika Voices (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • An Anthropological Exploration into Cultural Deafhood in Australia (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • PNG heritage in the archives: a legal anthropology of cultural property (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • We are made with water: an ontological exploration of water in the Dry Tropics of Northern Queensland. (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Everyday life in prehistoric Thailand: What can the spindle whorls tell us? (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Community development in villages of PNG: Evaluating empowerment of young, educated women for community development and social change. (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Political imaginaries of resistance and the possibilities for nonviolent re-existence: Australian decolonial practices in a global context ? an ethnographic approach (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

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