Adjunct Senior Research Fellow Grace Koch

Adjunct scholar

BSc (Eastern Nazarene College, Quincy, Massachusetts)
MMus (Boston University)

T +61 2 415 560 937



Grace Koch was appointed as a Senior Research Fellow with NCIS in August 2014. She is also a Visiting Research Scholar at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). She is a Chief Investigator for the Return, reconcile, renew research project – an Australian Research Council-funded project based at NCIS that focuses on repatriation of human remains. Her work on the project consists of researching the existing ethics and protocols as used by collecting institutions for the return of cultural materials to Indigenous communities. Grace also facilitates the linkage connection between NCIS and AIATSIS, providing listings of relevant materials held in the AIATSIS collections.


Originally from the USA, Grace has lived and worked mostly in Australia since 1974. She taught in music education at the (then) Canberra College of Advanced Education in 1975, leaving that position to become Research Assistant in Ethnomusicology to Dr Alice Moyle at the (former) Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. The Central Land Council engaged her as a consultant to document three land claims under the 1976 Land Rights Act (NT) and two claims under the Native Title Act as well as writing a book on the oral history of the Kaytetye people of Barrow Creek, NT. She worked as an audiovisual archivist at the Institute until 2002, when she moved to the Native Title Research and Access position there. Grace is a Member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).

In 1993, she lectured in Aboriginal Music at the University of Vienna and presented workshops and papers to the Academy of St. Cecilia in Rome and the Austrian Sound Archives Association in Graz, Austria. In 2013, she was a visiting scholar at the University of Cologne, and worked as a volunteer at the Archives of the City of Cologne.

She has served on the Executive Board of the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives, concentrating on protocols to manage Indigenous materials, and with Unesco on safeguarding traditional folklore and culture. In 2008, Grace was appointed to the foundation Board of the National Film and Sound Archive.

Scholarly interests

Grace has worked in the fields of music education, ethnomusicology, and audiovisual archiving and history. She has an extensive background in native title issues as well as the return of Indigenous cultural materials to Australian Indigenous communities. Several of her publications explore the connection between song and land, especially as evidence for land claims. She has done extensive research on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music. Most recently, her work has centred on analysis of Aboriginal music from historical sources, especially on the 1960s recordings from Central Australia and the Lake Eyre District gathered by the linguist Dr Luise Hercus. She is also working on a chapter for a book on Victorian Aboriginal song.

Recent publications

  • Koch, G. (2013) 'We have the song so we have the land: song and ceremony as proof of ownership in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land claims.' AIATSIS Research Discussion Paper No. 33. July 2013.
  • Koch, G. and A. Crowe. (2013) 'Songs, Land, and Ceremony: Interpreting the Place of Songs as Evidence for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Claims.' In Lassiter, L. and S. Cook. Collaborative Anthropologies. University of Nebraska Press.
  • Kleinert, S. and G. Koch, eds. (2012) 'Urban representations: cultural expression, identity and politics.' (2012) AIATSIS Research Publications.
  • Chaudhuri, S. and G. Koch et al. (2010) 'Ethical Principles for Sound and Audiovisual Archives.' IASA Special Publication No. 6. International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) 2010.
  • Koch, G. (2010). ‘Ethics and research: dilemmas raised in managing research collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander materials’. Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2010/No. 2.
  • Bauman, T. and G. Koch (2010) 'Critical elements for native title agreement outcomes: cultural archives and community facilitation. AIATSIS, Native Title Research Unit, Native Title Newsletter Sep-Oct 2010.
  • Koch, G. (2009) 'Music and land rights : archival recordings as documentation for Australian Aboriginal land claims.' Fontes Artis Musicae. January-March 2008.
  • Koch, G. (2008) 'The Future of Connection Material held by Native Title Representative Bodies: Final Report.' Native Title Research Unit, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies: Canberra.
  • Koch, G. and M. Turpin (2008) 'The language of Central Australian Songs.' In: Bowern, C. et al. (eds). Morphology and Language History. In honour of Harold Koch. Amsterdam/Philadelphia, John Benjamins. Pp 167-183.

View Grace Koch's complete list of publications (PDF 181KB) »

Updated:  1 May 2015/ Responsible Officer:  NCIS Project Coordinator/ Page Contact:  NCIS Administrative Officer