Fellowships create research and mentoring opportunities for First Nations scholars

24 March 2023
Two First Nations fellows to land in 2023
The SSSHARC First Nations Fellowships support Indigenous or First Nations researchers or cultural leaders to conduct collaborative work at the University of Sydney.
RD Watt Building

In consultation with Indigenous colleagues and leaders, the Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre (SSSHARC) has developed a First Nations Fellowship scheme.

The SSSHARC First Nations Fellowship Scheme has been designed to advance our commitment to creating research and mentoring opportunities for Indigenous researchers at the University of Sydney through collaboration with visiting First Nations researchers or cultural leaders.

Fellows will be active researchers, leaders or elders with a national or international reputation in their disciplinary field or craft group relative to career stage and opportunity.

While at the University of Sydney, Fellows will actively collaborate with our researchers. They will also have an Indigenous sponsor at the University who will facilitate their involvement in the provision of research or cultural mentorship to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers and HDR candidates at the University.

Importantly, candidates for these fellowships are identified in conversation with Indigenous colleagues.

The development of the SSSHARC First Nations Fellowship scheme has been informed by conversations with senior Indigenous colleagues. I have already learnt that decolonizing research also means decolonising the protocols through which we select and appoint research fellows and support them once they are here. I am sure there will be many other lessons for me to learn along the way.
Lee Wallace, SSSHARC Director
RD Watt Building

In 2023, the inaugural SSSHARC First Nations Fellow in the Social Sciences is Assistant Professor Anita Benoit, Department of Health and Society, University of Toronto Scarborough and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

Dr Benoit is Mi’kmaw and French Acadian with family living in Esgenoopetitj First Nation and Brantville, New Brunswick. Her research interests include Indigenous women’s health, HIV pathogenesis, intervention research, health service outcomes and evaluation, chronic stress and mental health, harm reduction and determinants of health.

Dr Benoit will collaborate with Professor Alex Broom and colleagues at the Sydney Centre for Healthy Societies on infectious diseases and social justice, with a focus on antimicrobial resistance. Associate Professor Benoit’s Fellowship is sponsored by Professor Jioji Ravulo, Chair of Social Work and Policy Studies, who is also an Adjunct Professor at The University of the South Pacific.

The inaugural SSSHARC First Nations Fellow in the Humanities is Professor Craig Santos Perez from the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa, where he teaches creative writing, eco-poetry and Pacific literature in the English Department and is affiliated to the Centre for Pacific Islands Studies and the Indigenous Politics Program.

Professor Perez is an indigenous Chamoru (Chamorro) from the Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam) and an internationally renowned poet and award-winning scholar in the fields of environmental humanities, Indigenous and comparative ethnic studies, Pacific studies, postcolonial studies, and Anthropocene studies.

While at the University, Professor Perez will work with Professor Mark Byron (English) and Dr Sophie Chao (Anthropology) to foster a network of poets, writers, and scholars with a focus on Indigenous and Pacific themes and concerns.

Professor Perez’s Fellowship will be sponsored by Professor Jakelin Troy who is the Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research.

We are looking forward to working collaboratively with Anita in promoting a shared appreciation and understanding of how indigenous ways of knowing and doing, being and becoming can be meaningfully included in modern contexts and settings. This helps shapes and supports the growing global conversation on esteeming First Nations views and values to help strengthen inclusive and sustainable societies.
Jioji Ravulo, Professor of Social Work and Policy Studies.