Sandy Toussaint

Sandy Toussaint

Professor, MA PhD W.Aust.

  • The University of Western Australia (M257), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Professor Sandy Toussaint is an anthropologist, author and curator. A UWA academic staff member for 20 years, her research and teaching included applied and legal anthropology, gender and sexuality, and contemporary social thought. She has worked with Australian Indigenous communities, families and organizations for four decades, most especially in the Kimberley, on matters relating to cultural heritage, land, water and native title, family history, community engagement, health and medicine, material culture, exhibitions, and story-telling. Senior Research Officer for the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody led in WA by Pat Dodson, the WA Aboriginal Land Inquiry, and Aboriginal Education, Sandy is also a former Oxford Research Fellow, Trustee of the 1930s Kaberry Kimberley Collection at AIATSIS, and a former AIATSIS Councillor.  In 2016, she resigned as a committee member of the RM and CH Berndt Research Foundation. A member of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register for Australia, her books include Ngurntakura Wangki- Amy's Story with Annette Puruta Kogolo and Marminjiya Joy Nuggett (2014),  Kimberley Stories (2012), and Crossing Boundaries in Native Title (2004). She has also authored refereed articles and book chapters, commentary and prose. Driven by practice-led collaborative cross-disciplinary work and cultural ethics, Sandy’s coordinating/curatorial work includes exhibitions such as Martuwarra Jila (Cullity Gallery 2003), Jimmy Pike's Artlines (Berndt Museum 2012, and national tour), Ngurntakura Wangki - Amy's Story (Gallery Central 2013), Warmun Then and Now (2015, Berndt Museum exhibition at the LWG), and Visual Story-Telling: Painting the Future (2017, Notre Dame University, Broome Campus). The Co-Trustee of the Catherine Berndt Estate is a key responsibility Sandy continues to hold. Actively guiding a time of transition, she managed the Berndt Museum at UWA between 2013 and 2015.  Ongoing collaborative research projects a focus on water/land, cultural heritage, and the significance cultural ethics. An Adjunct Professor with the Nulungu Research Institute at the University of Notre Dame's Broome Campus where she has also been a Scholar-In-Residence, Sandy is a member of the WA Law Society's Old Court House and Law Museum Committee, and the Collaborative Anthropologies Editorial Board.

Roles and responsibilities

Trustee of the Phyllis Kaberry Collection at AIATSIS, Co-Trustee of the Catherine Berndt Estate, research grant and publishing review, editorial board of journal Collaborative Anthropologies, PhD supervision, Advisory Committee UNESCO's Memory of the World Register Australasia. Former AIATSIS Councillor (two terms), thirty years research experience.

Future research

Community health project focused on cancer support services in remote areas; documentation of arts project for Kimberley Desert Traditional Owners; ethnographies of water; urban human/environment transitions.

Funding overview

Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant, Australian Heritage Commission, CSIRO, WA Health Department, Princess Margaret Hospital, Wenner-Gren International Anthropological Research Foundation..

Previous positions

Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, WA Commission led by Patrick Dodson; WA Aboriginal Land Inquiry, led by Justice Paul Seaman; WAAECG Aboriginal Education.

Current projects

'Visual Story-Telling: Painting the Future' exhibition (UNDA Broome Campus); UNESCO cultural map nomination; Collaborative project about life and art of the late Noongar artist, Revel Cooper; arts/science research project; law museum; human/environment interactions.

Teaching overview

Applied and Legal Anthropology; Contemporary Social Thought; Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality; Contemporary Aboriginal Australia; Medical Anthropology; Honours


Epistemological inquiry and cultural ethics; Aboriginal Australian cultures, socialites and environments; material cultures and story-telling; collaborative cross-disciplinary engagements; legal cultures, histories and human rights; cultural curatorial theory and practice; health and medicine.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Research expertise keywords

  • Cross-Disciplinary; material culture; human/environments; health and medicine, legal anthropology


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