A/Professor Jennifer L. Biddle is Senior Research Fellow in the National Institute for Experimental Arts (NIEA), UNSW Art & Design. She is founding Director of Visual Anthropology & Visual Culture, an international program specialising in Indigenous and Asia Pacific research, one of only a few programs in Australia to support ethnographic and practice-led research as a basis for creative and critical research innovation in the arts.
Biddle joined UNSW in 2007, recruited as a VC Strategic Research Appointment (SPF) from the Department of Anthropology at Macquarie University, where she taught interdisciplinary approaches to the comparative study of culture (linguistic, cinematic, aesthetic) as Senior Lecturer and Head of Department. Since joining UNSW, she has been a Chief Investigator on 3 collaborative ARC-funded research projects, as well as AIATSIS (Australian Institute of Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Studies) funded research, based upon long-term relationships and industry partnerships developed from two decades of working in the Central and Western Deserts. In 2010, she was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship for Remote Avant-Garde: experimental Indigenous arts, an innovative history of new visibilities of place-based practice taking shape through aesthetic experimentation. In 2014, she is one of four CIs in collaboration with international Indigenous and First nations artists, interactive and immersive environments designers, and anthropologists, on a four-year Canadian SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) grant Sensory Entanglements: New Cross Cultural and Cross-Disciplinary Directions in the Creation and Evaluation of Multi-Sensorial Experience. In 2017, she is CI on a three year ARC Discovery Project, a global collaborative project Cultural Sensorium: An Ethnography of the Senses, harnessing sensory ethonography to pioneering advancements in digital cultures to explore aesthetic innovation for intangible heritage and Indigenous futurity.
She has worked with northern Warlpiri in Lajamanu for twenty-five years. Her disciplinary field is social anthropology, with expertise in Indigenous languages, art, culture and aesthetics, specifically, the ethnography of the Central and Western Desert of Australia. Her critical and conceptual research spans ethnographic and sensory ethnography; Indigenous languages and vernacular literacies; translation; theories of embodiment; sensory formations and radical cultural aesthetics; affect theory and embodiment; de-colonial theory and research; trauma, memory and predicaments of occupation; intercultural ontologies, new ‘glocal’ formations; Indigenous and Fourth World cinema; experimental ethnography; gender, 'race' and identity politics. Her first book breasts, bodies canvas: Central Desert Art as Experience (UNSW Press) provides an analysis of the role of female artists and the ‘feminisation of the Dreaming’ in the Papunya Tula Aboriginal art movement. Her most recent book Remote Avant-Garde: Aboriginal Art under Occupation (Duke University Press) models the importance of new and emergent desert Aboriginal aesthetics as an art of survival.