Sally May

Associate Professor Sally May

Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow

School of Humanities

Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics


Associate Professor Sally K. May is an ARC Future Fellow with the School of Humanities at the University of Adelaide. She is also a convener of the Graduate Program in Curatorial and Museum Studies. As an archaeologist and anthropologist Sally's research focuses on relationships between people, landscapes, material culture and imagery, with inspiration drawn primarily from over 20 years of fieldwork in northern Australia. Prior to joining the University of Adelaide, Sally was a Senior Research Fellow with the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research (2017-2022) and a Senior Lecturer at the Australian National University (2009-2017).

She is the author of 'Karrikadjurren: Aboriginal art, community and identity in western Arnhem Land' (2022/2023) and 'Collecting Cultures: Myth, Politics, and Collaboration in the 1948 Arnhem Land Expedition' (2009). She is also co-author of 'The Bible in Buffalo Country: Oenpelli mission 1925-1931 (2020)' - winner of the 2021 Chief Minister's Northern Territory History Book award. Sally has also co-edited a number of volumes including 'The Archaeology of Portable Art' (2018), 'Macassan History and Heritage' (2013) and 'Histories of Australian Rock Art Research' (2022).

Sally is currently working on two ARC-funded projects. She is lead CI for 'Art at a Crossroads: Aboriginal responses to contact in northern Australia' (2021-2024) and holds an ARC Future Fellowship 'Painting Country: the life and legacy of western Arnhem Land rock painters' (2022-2026).

Latest article in The Conversation Friday Essay: https://theconversation.com/friday-essay-this-is-our-library-how-to-read-the-amazing-archive-of-first-nations-stories-written-on-rock-176886

  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2022 - ongoing Associate Professor University of Adelaide
    2017 - 2022 Senior Research Fellow Griffith University
    2009 - 2017 Senior Lecturer Australian National University
    2008 - 2009 ARC Postdoctoral Fellow Griffith University
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2021 Award Chief Minister's Northern Territory History Book Award 2021 Northern Territory Government Australia
    2011 Teaching Award ANU Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Education (Programs that Enhance Learning) Australian National University Australia
    2010 Teaching Award ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching and Learning Award Australian National University Australia
    2008 Fellowship ARC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Griffith University Australia
    2001 Scholarship Australian Postgraduate Award (Scholarship) Australian National University Australia
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2001 - 2006 Australian National University Australia PhD
    2000 - 2000 Flinders University of South Australia Australia Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
    1997 - 1999 Flinders University of South Australia Australia Bachelor of Arts (Archaeology and History)
  • Research Interests

Key grants:

Years

Program

Title

Chief Investigators

Amount

2022 – 2026 (awarded 2021)

ARC Future Fellowship

Painting Country: The life and legacy of western Arnhem Land rock painters

Sally K. May

$961,139

2021 – 2024 (awarded 2020)

ARC Special Research Initiative Scheme

Art at a Crossroads: Aboriginal responses to contact in northern Australia

Sally K. May, Paul S.C. Taçon, Liam Brady, Daryl Wesley, Laura Rademaker, Andrea Jalandoni, Joakim Goldhahn, and Luke Taylor

$273,828

2016 – 2019

ARC Discovery Project

History Places: Wellington Range rock art in a global context

Paul S.C. Taçon, Sally K. May, Liam Brady, Duncan Wright, Joakim Goldhahn, and Ines Domingo Sanz

$490,100

2008 – 2012

ARC Discovery Project

Picturing Change: 21st Century perspectives on recent Australian rock art

Paul S.C. Taçon, June Ross, Alistair Paterson and Sally K. May

$565,000

Sally is a co-convenor of the Graduate Program in Curatorial and Museum Studies at the University of Adelaide. Previously she was convenor of the Cultural and Environmental Heritage graduate program at the Australian National University for 8 years and a lecturer within the School of Archaeology at Flinders University and the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at the Australian National University.

Teaching awards:

  • ANU Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Education (Programs that Enhance Learning) 2011
  • ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching and Learning Award 2010
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2020 - ongoing Advisory Board Member Kakadu Research and Management Advisory Committee Parks Australia Australia
  • Community Engagement

    Date Title Engagement Type Institution Country
    2022 - ongoing The Conversation (Friday Essay): ‘this is our library’ – how to read the amazing archive of First Nations stories written on rock Public Community Engagement The Conversation Australia
    2021 - ongoing The Conversation: Aboriginal art on a car? How an Indigenous artist and an adventurer met in the 1930 wet season in Kakadu Public Community Engagement The Conversation Australia
    2021 - ongoing The Conversation: Threat or trading partner? Sailing vessels in northwestern Arnhem Land rock art reveal different attitudes to visitors Public Community Engagement The Conversation Australia
    2021 - ongoing The Conversation: How historically accurate is the film High Ground? The violence it depicts is uncomfortably close to the truth Public Community Engagement The Conversation Australia
    2020 - ongoing The Conversation: Introducing the Maliwawa Figures: A previously undescribed rock art style found in Western Arnhem Land Public Community Engagement The Conversation Australia
    2020 - 2020 Guest for the podcast: Foreign Countries: conversations in archaeology with Ash Lenton. Topic: Innovative Research in Australia Public Community Engagement Foreign Countries: conversations in archaeology with Ash Lenton Australia
  • Review, Assessment, Editorial and Advice

    Date Title Type Institution Country
    2022 - ongoing Guest Editor, Rock Art Research, v. 38/2 Editorial Rock Art Research Australia
    2021 - ongoing Guest Editor, Rock Art Research, v.38/1 Editorial Rock Art Research Australia
    2018 - ongoing Guest Editor, Australian Archaeology, v.84/3 Editorial Australian Archaeology Australia
    2017 - ongoing Guest Editor, The Artefact, v.38 Editorial The Artefact Australia
  • Position: Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow
  • Phone: 83135183
  • Email: sally.may@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Napier, floor Third Floor
  • Room: 313
  • Org Unit: School of Humanities

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