Dr Theresa Petray is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology & Anthropology. Her research and teaching both centre on the concepts of agency and social change. Theresa is committed to using her academic work to contribute to social justice.

Theresa is a Research Fellow of The Cairns Institute, and Theme Leader of the Social & Environmental Justice Group at TCI. 

Her research focuses on Aboriginal activism and self-determination. Her current research, with Gugu Badhun nation, looks at economic development and nation-building through the lens of self-determination. Theresa has also researched Aboriginal protest movements in North Queensland as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social media activism. In particular, she is interested in the ways that seemingly marginalised people exercise agency to speak back to power. Theresa uses research methods which foreground the voices of her research participants. She is also committed to ensuring that her work is publicly accessible, for example by writing for The Conversation and publishing in Open Access journals

In 2016 Theresa was invited to deliver the keynote address at the Switching On Digital Activism symposium at the University of Auckland, as well as a masterclass on Social Media & Activism: Goals, Approaches and Tools. In 2014 she delivered a public lecture on social media activism and worked with ABC Open to make a film about her work.

Theresa teaches using active and blended learning strategies to encourage her students to recognise their ability to change the world. She has received FAESS and TLD funding to develop these teaching techniques and has published her early results. Theresa supervises JCU students in sociology and anthropology, and has been on supervisory panels for research students from University of Sydney, University of Copenhagen, and Ben Gurion University. In 2016 Theresa was awarded JCU's Early Career Advisor of the Year award. 

In addition to research and teaching, Theresa is the Sociology major coordinator, a member of the JCU Gender Equity Self-Assessment Team, and a national representative in the NTEU. She serves the Townsville community through volunteer work, specifically with The Pyjama Foundation. Theresa is also Secretary of The Women's Centre in Townsville. 

  • BA4102: Communicating Research (Level 4; CNS & TSV)
  • SS1010: Australian People: Indigeneity and Multiculturalism (Level 1; TSV)
  • SY1001: Australian Society: An Introduction to Sociology (Level 1; TSV)
  • SY2022: Family, Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Society (Level 2; TSV)
  • SY3018: Power and Protest in a Globalising World (Level 3; TSV)
  • SY4018: Contemporary Social Theory (Level 4; CNS & TSV)
  • Social movements, social change, protest and activism
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agency
  • Active learning, student engagement and agency
  • Social Research Methods
  • Sociology and Anthropology
  • 2014 to present - Sociology major coordinator, JCU
  • 2016 - Indigenous Governance Program, Native Nations Institute (University of Arizona)
  • 2016 - Jean Martin Award for best thesis in Australian sociology panel member, The Australian Sociological Association
  • 2015 - Bachelor of Arts First Year Coordinator, JCU
  • 2015 - Conference Convenor, The Australian Sociological Association (Cairns)
  • 2013 to 2014 - Secretary, The Australian Sociological Association
  • 2011 to 2014 - Convenor, Sociology of Indigenous Issues thematic group
  • 2013 - Jean Martin Award for best thesis in Australian sociology panel member, The Australian Sociological Association
  • 2013 - BSocSc (Hons) Course Coordinator, JCU
  • 2011 to 2012 - Postgraduate portfolio manager, The Australian Sociological Association
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2016 - JCU Early Career Advisor of the Year award
  • 2015 - Rising Star top up award
  • 2013 - JCU Teaching and Learning Development grant with Dr Wendy Li and Dr Kelsey Halbert: CAR in the Flipped Classroom
  • 2012 - JCU Rising Star Award
  • 2011 - PhD - James Cook University
  • 2010 - JCU Inclusive Practice Teaching Award
  • 2015 to 2017 - Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies member
  • 2014 to 2017 - Asia-Pacific Sociological Association member
  • 2008 to 2017 - The Australian Sociological Association member
  • 2007 to 2017 - Australian Anthropological Association Fellow
  • 2011 to 2015 - Trans-Oceanik partnership between James Cook University and L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociale, College de France

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
Conference Papers

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 30+ research outputs authored by Dr Theresa Petray from 2008 onwards.


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.

  • Artists - Explorers of North Queensland (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Receptivity, Affect, Endurance and Democracy: A Comparison Between Two Political Organizations, La Madres de Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, Argentina and, the Townsville Feminist Collective in North Queensland, Australia (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Assessing the sustainability of development strategies in rural and remote areas (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • An Indigenous Interpretive Research Inquiry into Torres Strait Regional Autonomy (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM)
  • Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the local level - Self-determination (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit the JCU Research Data Catalogue.


The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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  • 4.119, Social Sciences (Townsville campus)
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