Ella Vallelonga

Native Title
Winter 2019


Coming up to my last semester as an undergraduate Anthropology student, I experienced a nearing end of degree crisis which I decided could only be resolved with determining the area of anthropology that I specifically wanted to explore at a post grad level. My Aurora internship at SANTS was a great intellectual experience, but it wasn’t some magical rite of passage that helped me to decide whether or not I want to work in native title, on that I am still unsure. What it did help me with was understanding the major difference between learning and practicing anthropology and gaining hands on experience in a field that is under acknowledged for its dedication to social justice. My Internship involved a 5-week placement at South Australian Native Title Services, supervised by Robert Graham, a leading Anthropologist in the field. The opportunity to work with and learn from Robert was invaluable and I am lucky to have worked with his team.

I went into this internship with little knowledge of native title but have now developed a real understanding of and appreciation for the field. What I love is how dynamic the role of the anthropologist can be in native title, from interviewing claimants to analysing material culture, the field offers a real depth for the social scientist. During my internship, my primary tasks involved the collation of a site schedule a corresponding map and the analysis of claimant affidavits. Other work also involved extensive reading, research, printing and scanning. What I find interesting about native title, is the emphasis on history as a basis for verifying site significance, this was an aspect of the field that I was most intrigued by and unaware of before starting at SANTS. Although I didn’t get the opportunity on this occasion, this internship has also helped me to realise how interested I am in fieldwork. If you have the opportunity without a doubt, consider interning in an area that will really take you out of your comfort zone. 

The Aurora Internship Program is a vital step to understanding how anthropology is practiced outside the classroom. The Program offers you the opportunity to fuse your university learning with a real-world experience that will undeniably shift your expectations of anthropological work in native title and leave you eager to experience more! I cannot recommend the Aurora Program enough to budding anthropologists, archaeologists or social science students, the skills you will learn at an organisation like SANTS are ones you will carry with you throughout your career.