Adjunct Fellow Dr Pamela Faye McGrath

Adjunct scholar

PhD (Interdisciplinary Cross-Cultural Research)

T +61 2 6267 0626



Pamela McGrath was appointed as an Adjunct Fellow with NCIS in October 2014. She will be working in the thematic areas of Law and Native Title, Policy Development and Engagement, and Culture Heritage and History.


Pamela McGrath is an anthropologist and Research Director at the National Native Title Tribunal. Pam has been involved with native title claim research, policy analysis and the teaching of native title anthropology for over fifteen years. She was a founding collaborator of the ANU Centre for Native Title Anthropology, where she worked as a Research Fellow until moving to the Native Title Research Unit at AIATSIS in 2012. Pam’s recent research projects have focused on the social and economic impacts of the native title regime, Indigenous cultural heritage regulation, and the management of native title archives. She recently published The Right to Protect Sites, an edited anthology of interdisciplinary analysis about the management of place-based Indigenous heritage in the era of native title. The book includes a chapter on her research into the scale and impacts of cultural heritage activities occurring under the future act regime. Pam has recently undertaken research on the information management capabilities of native title organisations and is working with colleagues to design guidelines to assist native title holders to secure and provide access to their collections of unique native title materials. Pam has also researched and written about aspects of intercultural sociality, identity and camera culture on the Australian frontier. Her doctoral thesis, which involved the re-documentation and repatriation of a significant number of historical films and photographs, examined social relations around cameras during the early years of settler contact with Ngaanyatjarra people of the Western Desert.

Pam has been on the executive of the Australian Anthropological Society since 2009 and currently holds the office of President Emeritus.

Scholarly interests

Pam's current research includes the following projects:

The right to protect sites: Indigenous heritage management in the era of native title (AIATSIS 2016)

Following strong interest from Indigenous stakeholders for a project focused on cultural heritage management and native title, this three-year project examines the interesection of native title rights with the state and territory regulatory regimes of heritage protection in the context of resource extraction and other development projects. With a focus on the intents and impacts of heritage regimes, it explores how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are strategically engaging with them to them in order to leverage local social and economic objectives.

Managing Information in Native Title (AIATSIS NTRU project 2013-2015)

This three-year project has been initiated in response to concerns raised by numerous native title organisations and traditional owner groups regarding the management of the large amount of information they have accumulated in the process of securing and managing their native title rights. Drawing on the findings of recent research into information managment capacity and information inequities in the native title system, as well as the outcomes of a large workshop of representatives from native title organisations around the country, the MINT project will produce a number of online tools, advice and guides to support traditional onwers in their efforts to access, secure and manage their substantial and unique collections of native title materials.

The Nyangumarta Corporate History Research Project (AIATSIS NTRU project 2013-2015)

Working in partnership with the Nyangumarta Warrarn Registered Native Title Body Corporate (RNTBC) and Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation (YMAC), the Nyangumarta Corporate History Research Project provides insights into the nature and amount of corporate work required of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to achieve recognition of their native title rights and then manage them into the future. Using data gleaned from historical legal files and focusing exclusively on external (or intercultural) activities and relationships, this project quantifies the ‘work’ of the Nyangumarta people over a 15 year period as they pursued and ultimately won recognition of their native title rights.

Centre for Native Title Anthropology

Dr McGrath was a founding collaborator in the Centre for Native Title Anthropology (CNTA), and was their principal Research Fellow from 2010 to 2012. CNTA aims to enhance the practice of native title anthropology in Australia through a series of innovative programs and workshops for applied anthropologists.

Updated:  16 April 2019/ Responsible Officer:  NCIS Project Coordinator/ Page Contact:  NCIS Administrative Officer