IN TRANSITION | Publications

books, articles, and works-in-progress


Aboriginal Business: Alliances in a Remote Australian Town

Santa Fe: School of Advanced Research Press, Global Indigenous Politics Series. 2008

Canberra, ACT, Australia, Aboriginal Studies Press. 2009

Table of Contents and Chapter One available for download

Reviews of Aboriginal Business

Reviewed by Jeff Collmann for American Anthropologist. Vol 113 (3):515-516. 2011.
“Kimberly Christen presents a richly textured portrait of “Aboriginal business” in central Australia that warrants close reading by scholars and students of indigenous–settler relations around the globe…Christen’s fine monograph illustrates that beautiful writing and thoughtful analysis serve anthropology well. Read the full review.
Reviewed by Jackie Gould for The Australian Journal of Anthropology: 22.1, 140-2: April 2011
“Christen’s book is a welcome contribution which offers both new material on, and fresh conceptual insights into, contemporary Indigenous Australian experiences.” Read the full review.
Reviewed by Bill Ivory for Anthropological Forum 21.1, March 2011: 91-93
“Aboriginal business explores the relationships and alliances that have emerged over time between people in the relatively small and remote outback town of Tennant Creek…In her well-written account, Kimberly Christen skilfully details how such relationships are played out amidst political maneuvering and social experimentation by various levels of government as they attempt to gain the upper hand in Aboriginal policy rationalisation.” Read the full review.
Reviewed by Petronella Vaarzon-Morel for Aboriginal History, Volume 34. 2010
“Anyone who has spent time in an Aboriginal community cannot but notice the great amount of time and energy that Aboriginal people devote to whitefella ‘meeting business’. What is not always apparent, however, is why Aboriginal people are willing to do so. Kimberley Christen’s book provides considerable insight into the significance of such meetings to Warumungu people as part of a broader field of business they conduct in and around the town of Tennant Creek.” Read the full review.
Reviewed by Daniel Fischer for Museum Anthropology Review. Vol 4 (10), 2010
“Kimberly Christen’s Aboriginal Business is an ethnography of Aboriginal people that places forms of intercultural partnership and Aboriginal corporate activity at its center. Christen explores the broad range of intercultural alliances, collaborations, and compromises taken up by Warumungu people in Northern Australia. In so doing she has crafted a novel and rich perspective on cultural reproduction and Aboriginal social life and provided a much-needed ethnographic window onto Tennant Creek, a small, popularly maligned town in the Northern Territory.” Read the full review.
Reviewed by David Eller @ the Anthropology Review Database: March 9, 2010
“This smart and timely book explores the relationships between the Warumungu society of north-central Australia and their non-Aboriginal neighbors in the region of Tennant Creek. Using the concept of business, which in Aboriginal English usually refers to ritual activity, Christen discusses Aboriginal formal organizations, railroads, mining, tourism, and cultural production to establish the point that indigenous people do not live in isolation and the modern and traditional are not mutually exclusive identities…. [This] is quite a brilliant piece of anthropological research…. Kimberly Christen appreciates and clearly depicts that the authentic Aboriginal experience includes the foreign and the modern…. The days of cultural isolation are over for indigenous peoples, and anthropology must accommodate, and has accommodated, this fact.
Reviewed by Will Owen @ Aboriginal Art and Culture: An American Eye. 2009
“If you have the time or inclination to read only one book on Aboriginal affairs this year, I would strongly suggest that you pick up Kim Christen’s Aboriginal Business. Read the full review.

Articles and Chapters in Books

Always Coming Home: Territories of Relation and Reparative Archives.” Co-authored with Josiah Blackeagle Pinkham, Cordelia Hooee, and Amelia Wilson. Archivaria 94 (Fall/Winter 2022): 24-62.

Designing archival information systems through partnerships with Indigenous Australian communities: Developing the Mukurtu Hubs and Spokes Model in Australia.” Co-authored with Kirsten Thorpe, Lauren Booker, and Monica Galassi. Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 25.

“The songline is alive in Mukurtu”: Return, reuse, and respect.” in LD&C Special Publication No. 18: Archival Returns: Central Australia and Beyond, edited by Linda Barwick, Jennifer Green & Petronella Vaarzon-Morel. Sydney University Press, 2019, pp. 153–172.

Towards Slow Archives.” Co-authored with Jane Anderson. Journal of Archival Science, vol 19: 87-116.

Decolonizing Attribution: Traditions of Exclusion.” Co-authored with Jane Anderson. Journal of Radical Librarianship, vol 5, 2019.

Relationships not Records: Digital Heritage and the Ethics of Sharing Indigenous Knowledge Online.” in Routledge Companion to Media Studies and Digital Humanities, edited by Jentery Sayers. Routledge: Taylor and Francis, 2018, pp. 403-412.

A Community of Relations: Mukurtu Hubs and Spokes.” co-authored with Alex Merrill and Michael Wynne, D-Lib Magazine, vol (23), number 5/6, May/June 2017.

On Not Looking: Economies of Visuality in Digital Museums, in the International Handbooks of Museum Studies: Museum Transformations, First Edition. Edited by Annie E. Coombes and Ruth B. Phillips. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Oxford Press, 2015, 365-386.

Sovereignty, Repatriation, and the Archival Imagination. Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals, Spring 2015, vol 11 (2):115-138.

Tribal Archives, Traditional Knowledge, and Local Contexts: Why the “s” Matters. Journal of Western Archives. 2015, Vol. 6, Issue. 1, Article 3.

A Safe Keeping Place: Mukurtu CMS Innovating Museum Collaborations, in Museum Innovations: Museums Collections Management, edited by Juilee Drucker. Rowman & Littlefield, 2015, 61-68.

Introduction: After the Return. Museum Anthropology Review. Spring-Fall 2013, 7(1-2).

“Chuck a Copyright on It”: Dilemmas of Digital Return and the Possibilities for Traditional Knowledge Licenses and Labels. co-Authored with Jane Anderson. Museum Anthropology Review. Spring-Fall 2013, 7(1-2).

Balancing Act: The Creation and Circulation of Indigenous Knowledge and Culture Inside and Outside the Legal Frame. In, Transnational Culture In The Internet Age, Edited by Sean A. Pager and Adam Candeub, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012, 316-344.

Does Information Really Want to be Free? Indigenous Knowledge Systems and the Question of Openness. International Journal of Communication. 2012, Volume 6, 2870-2893. (

Opening Archives: Respectful Repatriation. American Archivist. Volume 74, Spring/Summer 2011, 185-210.

Access and Accountability: The Ecology of Information Sharing in the Digital Age. Anthropology News, “Visual Ethics.” April 2009, 4-5.

Archival Challenges and Digital Solutions in Aboriginal Australia. SAA Archaeological Record. August 2008, Vol 8, No 2, 21-24.

Anthropology in/of Circulation: the Future of Open Access and Scholarly Societies. Cultural Anthropology. August 2008, Vol 23, No 3, 559-588.

Following the Nyinkka: Relations of Respect and Obligations to Act in the Collaborative Work of Aboriginal Cultural Centers. Museum Anthropology, September 2007, Vol 30, No. 2, 101-124.

Tracking Properness: Repackaging Culture in a Remote Australian Town. Cultural Anthropology, August 2006, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 416-446.

Ara Irititja: Protecting the Past, Accessing the Future–Indigenous Memories in a Digital Age. A Digital Project of the Pitantjatjara Council. Museum Anthropology, April 2006, Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 56-60.

Changing the Default: Taking Aboriginal Systems of Accountability Seriously. World Anthropologies Network, May 2006, Vol. 2, pp. 115-126.

Gone Digital: Aboriginal Remix and the Cultural Commons. International Journal of Cultural Property, August 2005, 12: 315-345.