Associate Professor Diana Young

Associate Professor in Museum Anthr

School of Social Science
Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
+61 7 336 51210


I am a scholar, curator, educator and designer.

My research is at the inter-section of cultural anthropology- material and visual culture- and museum studies with specialisms in the anthropology of art and design, and the 21st century 'ethnographic' museum. I research and publish on the role of colours as carriers of thought in art and in everyday creative design practices, and colours as local ecology and time. My additonal current research include Australian Indigenous art and the market; the role of museum management in institutional policy and history; digital imaging of museum objects and intellectual property; collection ecologies and bio-cultural materials; research led exhibtiions and contemporary exhibition curation and design. I have a long-standing association with the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY Lands) in South Australia where I carried out my doctoral fieldwork whilst a student at University College London, as part of the material culture group. I welcome doctoral students who wish to work on material and visual cultural research and musuem studies, or the interesction of these.

I have curated a number of research generated exhibitions including consultant curator for the 50th anniversary show of Ernabella Arts at Tandanya in South Australia, the retrospective of Kunmanara (Nyukana) Baker and, co-curated the touring show Art on a String with Object, and fifteen collaborative shows for the UQ Anthropology Museum.

I have directed the Master of Museum studies program at UQ for the last 5 years, commissioning a course in digital heritage and carrying out and implementing the recommendations of the academic program review. I continue to partner with GLAMs sector institutions for teaching and research. I am partnering with QAGOMA to collaborate on a new course about Learning and Outreach. I have taught Museum Theory and Practice, Collections, Museum Management, Exhibitions, Work Placement and convened the Masters Dissertation courses. Previously I taught Material and Visual culture and Museum Anthropology in the UQ Anthropology undergraduate program. I have taught at the Australian National University, Chelsea College of Art and University College London in the UK. I was first trained as an architect and worked in the UK construction industry as a designer and project manager.

As the first women to direct the UQ Anthropology Museum in its 75-year history I aimed to promote the work of women makers and artists in the museum’s collection and in the museum’s exhibition program. I am skilled at combining theory and practice, including teaching with objects, and at infrastructure implementation. I led the re configuring of the UQ Anthropology museum’s infrastructure transforming it back into a public institution with a rolling exhibition program generated by research of the museum’s collection. I led the creation of the first online publication of the collection to enable wide collection access. This included a purpose built digital catalogue and the creation and upload of more than 15,000 images of the cultural property cared for in the museum. The publication of the photographic collection in 2017 enabled these images can find new friends and family online. More than 60,000 people visited the UQAM’s new teaching, research and engagement facilities between 2012-2017. I raised more than AUS$1.1 million for the museum.

Research Interests

  • Colour as Material, Digital and Visual Culture.
    I am known for my role in developing the contemporary research of colours in anthropology using material culture theory. My work centres on the role of colours as images, materials and substances in social life. I welcome doctoral projects on the anthropology of colours.
  • Central Desert Art Histories
    My interest is in the development of the art histories of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands since the establishment of the mission at Ernabella (now Pukatja) in South Australia 1937. Overall this work is a contribution to reassessing Australia’s colonial history and the creativity of Aboriginal women artists who gained autonomy and an expansion of themselves through art practices. I have curated public exhibitions (1998 'Warka Iritii munu Kuwari Kutu/ Work from the past and the present 50 years of Ernabella Arts'; 2001 'Art on a string' ; 2009, 'Nyukana Baker. A Retrospective') and catalogues on this topic. This research includes fieldwork and archival study - both textual and photographic.
  • Consumption Practices in Central Australia.
    This project was funded by an ARC Discovery ( 2013-Dec 2016) which researched the neglected history of consumption after colonisation among Australian Indigenous peoples. The research based on long term fieldwork. Findings from this recently completed research are in press.
  • Public Anthropology through Curatorial practice and the future of the ethnographic museum
    This research examines the role of so-called ethnographic museums now. I have collaborated in the curation of 17 public exhibitions in many venues in Australia including at UQ. I have developed collaborative research in museums with the aim of generating innovative exhibitions, using little seen objects combined with contemporary academic theory, to engage wide audiences.

Research Impacts

As an influential curator of anthropology, I am at the forefront of object centred teaching and learning for university and school students. I directed the creation of a new research and teaching infrastructure for the UQ Anthropology Museum and transformed it into a public institution with loans to many state galleries and museums and to local projects. See the online catalogue at and exhibtions at These digital sites have been visited by people in 157 different countries globally (Google analytics June 2017).

Key Exhibitions

2016 Director of curation Solomon Islands; Re enchantment and the colonial shadow, UQ Anthropology Museum.

2015 commissioned Wild Australia. Meston’s Wild Australia show 1892-1893 curated by Michael Aird and Mandana Mapar, research Paul Memmott UQ Anthropology Museum; Toured to Grafton Regional Gallery 2016.

2014 written on the body commissioned and co curated with Judy Watson UQ Anthropology Museum;

2013 Musical Landscapes of Lihir, commissioned, developed, director of curation with Kirsty Gillespie and the Lihir Development Project, New Ireland province Papua New Guinea, UQ Anthropology Museum;

2012 In the red on the vibrancy of things director/curator UQ Anthropology Museum, commissioned work Fiona Foley, Miyarrka media;

2012 What do objects want? director/curator UQ Anthropology Museum; and on line exhibtion;

2009 Nyukana Baker; A retrospective, curator at the Jam Factory Adelaide for SALA (South Australia Living Artists festival). Australia Council funded.

2001-2005 co curated Art on a String. Threaded objects from the Western Desert and Arnhem Land, Object centre of Australian craft and design touring show (venues included Object Gallery Sydney, Museum of Victoria, Bathurst regional gallery, NSW, Araluen cultural centre, Alice Springs, Tandanya cultural centre, Adelaide). Australia Council funded.

1998 consultant curator for Ernabella Arts Inc., ‘Warka irititja munu kwari kutu. Work from the past and the present a celebration of 50 years of Ernabella Arts,’ Tandanya Cultural Centre Adelaide


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University College London
  • Masters (Coursework), University College London


View all Publications


View all Supervision



Book Chapter

  • Young, Diana J.B . (2019). The light is looking at us. James Turrell - night life. (pp. 53-63) edited by Rebecca Mutch. Brisbane, QLD, Australia: QAGOMA.

  • Young, Diana (2018). Color. International encyclopedia of anthropology. (pp. 330-360) edited by Hilary Callan. New Jersey, United States: John Wiley and Sons. doi: 10.1002/9781118924396.wbiea2210

  • Young, Diana (2018). Coloring cars: customising motor vehicles in the east of the Australian Western Desert. Design anthropology: object cultures in transition. (pp. 147-159) edited by Alison J. Clarke. London, United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Academic. doi: 10.5040/

  • Young, Diana (2018). Colour as the edge of the body: colours as space-time in the east of the Western Desert. Rematerializing colour: from concept to substance. (pp. 145-164) edited by Diana Young. Wantage, United Kingdom: Sean Kingston Publishing.

  • Young, Diana J. B. (2018). Colour palettes and beauty. Anthropology and Beauty: From Aesthetics to Creativity. (pp. 148-165) edited by Stephanie Bunn. Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781315681566

  • Young, Diana (2018). Introduction. Rematerializing colour: from concept to substance. (pp. 1-21) edited by Diana Young. Wantage, United Kingdom: Sean Kingston Publishing.

  • Young, Diana (2017). Introduction. Solomon Islands: re-enchantment and the colonial shadow. (pp. 1-7) Brisbane, Australia: Anthropology Museum, The University of Queensland.

  • Young, Diana (2015). Introduction. Wild Australia. Meston's Wild Australia 1892-93. (pp. 2-3) edited by Michael Aird, Mandana Mapar and Paul Memmott. Brisbane, Australia: Anthropology Museum, The University of Queensland.

  • Young, Diana (2011). Colouring cars: Customising motor vehicles in the East of the Australian Western Desert. Design anthropology: Object culture in the 21st century. (pp. 117-129) edited by Alison J. Clark. Wien, Austria ; New York, U.S.A.: Springer.

  • Young, Diana (2010). Dingo scalping and the frontier economy in the north west of South Australia. Indigenous participation in Australian economies. (pp. 91-107) edited by Ian Keen. Australia: ANU E-Press.

  • Young, Diana (2010). Dressing the body in the Western Desert, Australia. Berg encyclopedia of world dress and fashion. (pp. 37-41) edited by Joanne Eicher. Oxford, United Kingdom: Berg. doi: 10.2752/BEWDF/EDch7007

  • Young, Diana (2006). The colours of things. The handbook of material culture. (pp. 173-185) edited by Christopher Tilley, Webb Keane, Susanne Kuechler, Mike Rowlands and Patricia Spyer. London: Sage Publications.

  • Young, Diana (2001). The life and death of cars. Private cars on the Pitjantjatjara Lands, South Australia. Car cultures. (pp. 35-59) edited by Daniel Miller. London: Berg Publishers.

  • Young, Diana (1998). Punu metaphors and markets- wood carving in the Ernabella area. Warka iritita munu Kuwari kutu. Work from the past and the present: a celebration of Fifty years of Ernabella Arts. (pp. 38-43) Ernabella, SA, Australia: Ernabella Arts .

Journal Article

Other Outputs

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor