Public Anthropology in Aotearoa New Zealand

This series on public anthropology in Aotearoa New Zealand, compiled by Catherine Trundle, showcases a range of public anthropologists and their work.

Public anthropology engages a wide range of audiences beyond academia, and directly addresses pressing contemporary debates and issues of public concern. In contrast to the long timeframes of academic publications, and the specialist language of scholarly writing, public anthropologists seek to respond quickly and communicate accessibly through a range of public fora, such as TV, radio, blogs, public talks, activist events, op-eds and policy reports. This aims to open anthropology up to new forms of public accountability and dialogue, and to break down barriers between the academy and society.

New Zealand anthropologists work in a wide range of ways to put academic ideas into action, to address pressing local concerns and global issues, to increase public dialogue, and to foster collaborations between academics and their research participants.

We begin with Dr Sita Venkateswar from Massey University, who has conducted research across various locations in India, Nepal and briefly, Portugal. Her research has drawn attention to the situation of the indigenous groups in the Andaman Islands and often involved working in collaboration with local/ global NGOs and advocacy groups to shape tribal policies in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, or to provide briefing notes to government officials in India. Her current research involves working closely with women farmers involved in subsistence millet farming across tribal regions of southern India, whose vital role in food security in the region is often unacknowledged and remains invisible in official government policy and interventions.

Sita Venkateswar learning to sieve millets while walking.

Sita Venkateswar learning to sieve millets while walking.

Sita's publications include:

Venkateswar, Sita. 2005. Development and Ethnocide: Colonial Practices in the Andaman Islands. IWGIA.

Venkateswar, Sita & Hughes, Emma (eds.). 2011 The Politics of Indigeneity. Zed Books.

Venkateswar, Sita & Bandyopadhyay, Sekhar (eds.). 2016. Globalisation and the Challenges of Development in Contemporary India. Springer.