Françoise Dussart

Professor Ph.D. Australian National, 1989


Françoise Dussart is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Connecticut. Trained in France and Australia, her specialties in social anthropology include Australian Aboriginal society and culture (as well as other Fourth World Peoples), iconography and visual systems, various expressions of gender, ritual and social organization, health and citizenship.

Françoise Dussart’s career in anthropology began at the Sorbonne, where she studied the ethnolinguistic nuances of West African naming systems, the culture of street performers in Paris, and the slate factories of southern France. She received her Ph. D from the Australian National University for fieldwork with the Warlpiri people living in the Tanami Desert. Since then, she also devoted herself to curatorial efforts involving the acrylic painting of Central Desert Aborigines. She has published extensively on matters of Oceanian art for scholarly journals and the popular press, in French and in English. She has also consulted for numerous museums worldwide, writing catalogs, essays and assisting in general collection development.

She is the author of La Peinture des Aborigènes d’Australie (1993, Parenthèses and Réunion des Musées Nationaux), and The Politics of Ritual in an Aboriginal Settlement: Kinship, Gender and the Currency of Knowledge (2000, Smithsonian Institution Press). She has also edited several volumes on media and religion, ‘Media matters: Representations of the social in Aboriginal Australia’ (VAR, 2006) and Engaging Christianity in Aboriginal Australia (2010, with Carolyn Schwarz). She is currently working on two related projects, a long-term research project, which investigates how indigenized modernity and indigenous ill-health play a prominent part in shaping neo-settler states such as Australia, for which she has published already papers on how how Warlpiri people from Central Australia cope with chronic ill-health on a daily basis. Her second project is a book she is co-editing in collaboration with Dr. Sylvie Poirier (Université Laval), which focuses on the ontological transformations and entanglements amongst Fourth World peoples. The book titled: Entangled Ontologies: Interpretations of relations to land in Australian and Canadian neo-settler states will appear in 2017 and will be published by The University of Toronto Press.

She is currently curating the very first major presentation of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts (over 100 artworks) from Australia in Canada, at the Musée de la Civilisation in Quebec City. This exhibition titled Lifelines: Contemporary Indigenous Art from Australia will open October 20, 2015 and close September 6, 2016. She is also curating with one of her classes a smaller exhibition on Aboriginal Acrylics from Central Australia at the Benton Museum at Uconn, and it will open for a month in September 2015.

Area focus

Aesthetics and visual media; contemporary indigenous arts, cross-cultural exchange; indigenous rights; ontology; politics of ritual; gender and identity; diabetes, wellbeing and health; Indigenous Australia


Undergraduate Courses:
– Social Anthropology
– Anthropological Perspectives on Women
– Anthropological Perspectives on Art
– Indigenous Rights and Aboriginal Australia
– Development of Anthropological Theory

Graduate Seminars
– Cultural Rights

Reading Ethnographies
– Contemporary Anthropological Theory
– History of Anthropological Theory
– Gender and Culture
– Research and Methods in Feminist Theories

Selected publications

Monographs and Edited Volumes

Forthcoming Dussart, Françoise and Sylvie Poirier (Guest Editors) Contemporary Indigenous Cosmologies and Pragmatics. University of Alberta Press.

2017, F and S. Poirier (co-editors) Entangled Ontologies: Interpretations of relations to land in Australian and Canadian neo-settler states. University of Toronto Press 

Under Contract Dussart, F and S. Poirier (co-editors) Entangled Ontologies: Interpretations of relations to land in Australian and Canadian neo-settler states. University of Toronto Press

2010 C. Schwarz and F. Dussart. (Guest Editors) Engaging Christianity in Aboriginal Australia. The Australian Journal of Anthropology. Special Invited Issue. Volume 21.

2006 Guest editor. Media Matters: Representations of the Social in Aboriginal Australia. Visual Anthropology Review, Special Volume 21(1&2) Fall/Spring 2005, pp. 1-200

2005 Charlesworth, M., Dussart, F., Morphy, H. (eds) Aboriginal Religions in Australia: An Anthology of Recent Writings. London, Ashgate Press.

2000 The Politics of Ritual in an Aboriginal Settlement: Kinship, Gender and the Currency of Knowledge. Washington: The Smithsonian Institution Press.

1993 La Peinture des Aborigènes d’Australie (Australian Aboriginal Painting). Paris, Parenthèses and the Réunion des Musées Nationaux. (A Third Edition appeared in 2000)


Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters (selected)

Forthcoming  with Georgia Curran ‘We don’t show our women’s breasts for nothing’: Shifting ceremonial purposes for Warlpiri women’s public rituals – yawulyu – Central Australia 1980s – 2020. Guest Editors Laurent Jérôme and Natasha Gagné. In Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses. Sage Publishing in Association with Canadian Corporation for Studies in Religion.

Forthcoming  “To Perform or not to Perform the Ancestral Fire Dreaming from the Warlukurlangu Ranges (Central Australia)” in Vitality and Change in Warlpiri Songs. Georgia Curran, Linda Barwick, and Nicolas Peterson (eds.). Sydney: Sydney University Press.

Forthcoming  with Sylvie Poirier “Indigenous Cosmologies, Entangled Religiosities and Global Connections” in Contemporary Indigenous Cosmologies and Pragmatics. Françoise Dussart and Sylvie Poirier (eds.). Alberta: University of Alberta Press

2017 with Sylvie Poirier “Knowing and Managing the Land: The Conundrum of Coexistence and Entanglement” in Entangled Territorialities: Negotiating Indigenous Lands in Australia and Canada, Françoise Dussart and Sylvie Poirier (eds.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Pp.1-23

2012 “Mediating Art: Painters of Acrylics at Yuendumu (1983-2011).” In Crossing Cultures: The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art at the Hood Museum of Art. Gilchrist, S. (ed.). University Press of New England, pp. 65-74.

2010 “De la Terre à la Toile. Peintures Acryliques de l’Australie Centrale” [From the Ground to the Canvas. Acrylic Paintings from Central Australia] in La Fabrique des Images, Philippe Descola (ed.). Paris: Le Musée du Quai Branly and Somogy Editions, pp.138-145

2005 “Big Businesswomen” in Aboriginal Religions in Australia: An Anthology of Recent Writings. London, Ashgate Press, pp.93-112 (Revised extract of chapter 3 published in Dussart, 2000 The Politics of Ritual in an Aboriginal Settlement: Kinship, Gender and the Currency of Knowledge. Washington: The Smithsonian Institution Press)

2003 “The Engendering of Ceremonial Knowledge Between (and among) Warlpiri Women and Men in the Australian Central Desert.” Society for Economic Anthropology Monograph Series, Vol. 21,: Values and Valuables: From the Sacred to the Symbolic. Cynthia Werner and Duran Bell, (eds). Washington: American Anthropological Association and Altamira Press, pp.49-63.

1999 “What an Acrylic Can Mean: The Meta-Ritualistic Resonances of a Central Desert Painting” in Art from the Land, Howard Morphy and Margo Smith Boles (eds.). Charlottesville: The University of Virginia and Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, pp. 193-218. (Hardcopy and paperback)

1997 “A Body Painting in Translation,” in Rethinking Visual Anthropology, Howard Morphy & Marcus Banks (eds.). New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 186-202. (Paperback edition published in 1999)

1993 “First Impressions: Diary of a French Anthropologist in New York,“ in Distant Mirrors: America as a Foreign Culture, Philip DeVita & James Armstrong (eds.). Belmont: Wadsworth, pp. 66-7. (5rd edition)

1988 (co-authored with Christopher Anderson) “Dreamings in Acrylic: Contemporary Western Desert Art,” in Dreamings: Art from Aboriginal Australia, Peter Sutton (ed.). New York: Braziller Publishers, pp. 89-142.


Peer-Reviewed Articles

2017  “Collaborations Episodiques ou Durables: La santé Autochtone dans le Centre de l’Australie [Short-term and long-term Collaborations: Indigenous health in Central Australia]” In Perspective croisées sur la santé autochtone :  Problématique, pratiques et localités, La Faculté De Médecine, Université Laval Le CIERA, Université Laval La Faculté des Sciences Sociales, Le Département d’Anthropologie, Université Laval published:

2014 “Mise en Intrigue”. Quelques Réflexions sur les Expositions Muséales de Peintures à l’Acrylique des Aborigènes du Territoire du Nord (Australie)”. In Anthropologie et Sociétés, 38(3), pp. 179-206.

2010 “It is Hard to be Sick Now”: Diabetes and the Reconstruction of Indigenous Sociality.” In Anthropologica., 52(1), pp. 77-87.

2009 “Diet, Diabetes, And Relatedness In A Central Australian Aboriginal Settlement: Some Qualitative Recommendations To Facilitate The Creation Of Culturally-Sensitive Health Promotion Initiatives.” In Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 20(3), pp. 202-207.

2007 “Canvassing Identities: Reflecting on the Acrylic Art Movement in an Australian Aboriginal Settlement” In Aboriginal History. Special Thirtieth Anniversary Volume Exchanging Histories, pp. 156-168.

2004 “Shown But Not Shared, Presented but not Proffered: Redefining Ritual Identity Among Warlpiri Ritual Actors (1990-2000). The Australian Journal of Anthropology (formerly Mankind),15(3), pp. 272-287.

2004 “Montrés sans être Partagés; Présentés sans être Proférés: Redéfinition de l’identité rituelle chez les interprètes de rituels warlpiri. Anthropologie et Sociétés, 24, pp. 67-87.

1992b “The Politics of Female Identity: Warlpiri Widows at Yuendumu.” Ethnology. 31(4), pp. 337-350.

1992a “Creation and Innovation: Tania’s Dream”. Journal de la Société des Océanistes, 94(1), pp. 25-34.

1988 “Notes on Warlpiri Women’s Personal Names.” Journal de la Société des Océanistes, 86 (1), pp. 53-60.


Commissioned Essays Reviewed by Editorial Boards (selected)

2014 “Fora of Identity: From Public Ceremonies through Acrylic Painting to Evangelical Preaching.” In Australian Aboriginal Anthropology Today: Critical Perspectives from Europe (Les Actes ), URL :

2012 “Artists and Acrylics as Agents of Social Change.” In Kunga. Carry On. Paris, Flammarion-Skira Editions pp. 21-45.

2006 “Portals of Promise: The Dreaming Doors at Yuendumu” in Opening Doors. Utrecht, Aboriginal Art Museum, pp. 20-25

1988 “Women’s Acrylic Paintings From Yuendumu,” in Inspired Dream, Margie West (ed.), Brisbane, Queensland Art Gallery, Australia. pp. 35-39. (Revised for 2011 How Aborigines invented the Idea Of Contemporary Art (ed.) Ian McLean, Sydney, Power Publications.)


Organizers Françoise Dussart and Sohyun Park, Design and Research for Healthy Communities and Healthcare Facilities, May 17, 2021, UCONN. Recording available here until May 17, 2022.

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Francoise Dussart
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