Associate Professor Sally Babidge

Associate Professor

School of Social Science
Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
+61 7 336 53286


I am a sociocultural anthropologist in the School of Social Science at the University of Queensland and current (2021-present) Director of the Master of Development Practice program. My research is focussed on the social and cultural dimensions of ecological and economic change, especially that driven by the extractives industry and experienced by Indigenous Peoples. Current research is engaged in the epistemological, political and practical problems of 'seeing' harms from large scale mining projects, especially lithium in the 'critical minerals' extraction boom (see a recent FILM made with research collaborators), and in relation to groundwater and associated community futures. Ethnographic methodologies and theory that rely on sustained, engaged, and ethical relationships characterise my practice in Australia and Chile and resulting publications.

I design courses for and teach in the undergraduate major in anthropology, as well as for multidisciplinary areas of teaching in theory and methodology for Humanities and Social Science Faculty Honours students and in program design for the Development Practice students. HDR students from anthropology and other social science backgrounds undertake research under my supervision on questions associated with ecological futures, especially water, but also territorial relations, and in areas of political anthropology, and decolonial and feminist theory and method.

Research Interests

  • Extractive capitalism (extractivism) and its social effects
    The political economic analysis of the social effects of extractive (mining) capitalism cannot be adequately understood without a consideration of the agency of Indigenous Peoples. My research opens up critical questions about 'development' and ‘entrepreneurship’ as moral projects, and the ethical conditions of late capitalism as these arise in the context of negotiations between companies and communities. I undertake engaged and applied research on these questions in northern Chile and Australia, largely at the request of Community partners, and supervise HDR students on relevant topics.
  • Engaged ethnographic methodologies
    ‘Engaged’ anthropology is an explicit rejection of empiricist social science. As an approach it articulates with a politics of knowledge production that counters the colonial narratives of conquest and intersects with critical decolonising projects. As a White anthropologist with settler colonial heritage who works with Indigenous communities in Australia and Chile, I am interested in research partnerships and seek to design research in response to the articulated interests of those with whom I work.
  • Water and its cultural politics (environmental anthropology)
    My work has contributed to literature in environmental anthropology and political ecology in relation to water as sociotechnical expertise, as a resource, right and relation, and the governance of water use and protection. My research on the cultural politics of water, informed by ethnography with Atacameño-Likanantay peoples in northern Chile is internationally known for its contributions to knowledge on the cultural politics of water. I supervise HDR projects in a variety of contexts where students are asking comparable questions about water governance, industrial extraction and pollution and water justice, especially for First Nations/Indigenous Peoples and their inclusion in water futures.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, James Cook University
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Education, James Cook University


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Featured Publications


Book Chapter

  • Babidge, Sally (2021). Water Ownership and Governance. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology. (pp. 1-1) Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190854584.013.471

  • Pinner, Breanna, Ross, Helen, Jones, Natalie, Babidge, Sally, Shaw, Sylvie, Witt, Katherine and Rissik, David (2019). A custodial ethic: Indigenous values towards water in Moreton Bay and catchments. Moreton Bay Quandamooka and catchment: past, present and future. (pp. 29-44) edited by Ian R. Tibbetts, Peter C. Rothlisberg, David T. Neil, Tamara A. Homburg, David T. Brewer and Angela H. Arthington. Brisbane, QLD, Australia: Moreton Bay Foundation.

  • Babidge, Sally (2015). Who belongs in the nation?. Courting Blakness: recalibrating knowledge in the sandstone university. (pp. 112-117) edited by Fiona Foley, Louise Martin-Chew and Fiona Nicoll. St Lucia, QLD, Australia: University of Queensland Press.

  • Babidge, Sally (2011). The proof of native title connection in absentia. Unsettling anthropology: The demands of native title on worn concepts and changing lives. (pp. 82-99) edited by Toni Bauman and Gaynor Macdonald. Canberra, ACT, Australia: AIATSIS.

  • Babidge, Sally and Dressler, Wolfram (2010). Identity, difference, and development. The International Studies encyclopedia. (pp. 3576-3594) edited by Robert A. Denemark. Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell. doi: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190846626.013.23

  • Babidge, S. (2008). Death, family and disrespect in a northern Queensland town. Mortality, Mourning and Mortuary Practices in Indigenous Australia. (pp. 137-152) edited by K. Glaskin, M. Tonkinson, Y. Musharbash and V. Burbank. Surrey UK: Ashgate. doi: 10.4324/9781315248646-16

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Trigger, David, Babidge, Sally, Oertierra, Anna, Ross, Annie and Hafner, Diane (2012). Cars, museums, collecting: objects and the nature of heritage. Australian Anthropological Society Conference, St Lucia, Qld, Australia, 26-29 September 2012. St Lucia, Qld, Australia: Australian Anthropological Society.

  • Babidge, Sally (2011). Comparing informal and formal community-company relations. First International Seminar on Social Responsibility in Mining (SR Mining 2011), Santiago Chile, 19-21 October 2011. Santiago Chile: Gecamin.

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision