Rebecca Richards - Australia's first Indigenous Rhodes Scholar
17th August 2012
She enrolled at Oxford University in September 2011 and is studying for a Masters of Philosophy in Material Anthropology and Museum Ethnography. She is at Magdalen College, a 550 year old college. There have been nine Nobel Laureates associated with Magdalen College in the areas of Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Literature and Economics.
The daughter of a Leigh Creek stockman and a primary school teacher, Rebecca was raised in South Australia's Riverland and is a member of the Adnyamathanha and Barngarla peoples of the Flinders Ranges. She grew up on her family's fruit block, riding horses and dirt motorbikes, and swimming in the Murray River.
Her interest in anthropology was sparked at age 14 when she did some fieldwork in her native Adnyamathanha lands in the Flinders Ranges with her father and the Head of Anthropology at the South Australian Museum, Dr Philip Jones.
"The information gained on this fieldwork was later used in the determination of native title of those lands," Rebecca said. "I am also passionate about the repatriation of Indigenous objects, languages and associated knowledge to Indigenous communities."
Rebecca has custodial responsibilities for her family site, Pukatu, and for women's sites in the Flinders Ranges. Rebecca is passionate about using the knowledge and tools she gains from her studies, in the challenge to redraw what is seen as Indigenous knowledge. She sees her work as part of her communal responsibility as an Indigenous woman.
Rebecca completed an internship in 2010 at the prestigious Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, working in its National Museum of Natural History and also worked at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.
After completing her postgraduate studies, Rebecca hopes to help digitally repatriate objects and knowledge from the Pitt Rivers Museum and Bodleian Library at Oxford to the relevant Indigenous communities in Australia.