James Oliver PhD., MRes., BA (Hons)

Assoc. Professor at the School of Design, RMIT University


James Oliver (Seumas Olaghair) is a Hebridean Gàidheal and native of the Isle of Skye (an t-Eilean Sgitheanach). This emplacement has informed a life-long and evolving enquiry of practice-as-research and ways of knowing. Initially this was at the nexus of his native culture, language, place-based belonging and configurations of identities; increasingly, this is becoming more about ontologies and practices of emplacement and ethical relations.

As a transdisciplinary academic, educator, and writer, James has over 20yrs of professional practice across a range of disciplines and sectors (creative arts, design, social sciences, ethnography, arts development, community practice). This has nurtured a ‘practice-as-research’ career beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries, particularly at the intersections of cultural relations and Indigenous Practice Research. In relation to practice as research he published the book, Associations: creative practice and research (MUP, 2018). Selected details of his broader research practice and writing is available at academia.edu.

James’ research training began in the social sciences (politics and history; anthropology and sociology), with a focus on lived experiences of cultural situations and practices. His wider creative practice research interests now also focus on anti-colonial practices, public pedagogies, and the possibilities through creative and cultural ways of knowing, traditional and emerging. This is consistent with his native cultural position and practices of knowing.

He has held academic appointments at The University of Glasgow, The University of Edinburgh, The University of Melbourne and at Monash University. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor with Wominjeka Djeembana Indigenous Research lab. Beyond the Higher Education sector, James has worked as an arts development officer at the former Scottish Arts Council, and as a researcher, speechwriter and press officer at the Scottish Parliament.

© James Oliver / Seuma Olaghair

Is mise Seumas Chatriona nigh’n Dhomhnuill Aonghais Bhig mac Dhomhnuill mhic Pheadar mhic Mhurchaidh. I acknowledge respectfully that I am an uninvited guest, living and working on unceded Country. I pay my respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and their Ancestors, in particular the people of the Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung language groups and their Elders, past and present. I acknowledge the sovereignty of all the First Nations and Traditional Owners of the lands and waterways in Australia.

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