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Biographical entry McArthur, Annie Margaret (Margaret) (1919 - 2002)

6 December 1919
Ararat, Victoria, Australia
12 May 2002
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.
Anthropologist and Nutritionist
Alternative Names
  • Oliver, Margaret


Margaret McArthur was a nutritionist who was a member of the 1948 American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land, investigating the quality and quantity of food consumed by the indigenous people. Her fieldwork and observations during this expedition became a landmark study on the food, health and nutrition of the Aborigines of Arnhem Land, in the process contributing significantly to accepted views on women's vital role in Aboriginal diet and social economy. McArthur had earlier participated in the Commonwealth Department of Health Nutrition Expedition to New Guinea in 1947, work which she continued into the 1950s and which formed the basis of her doctoral thesis. She also conducted research in Malaysia for the WHO and was nutrition consultant in Indonesia and Africa for the FAO. Having completed postgraduate training in anthropology McArthur was appointed Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Sydney in 1965, becoming the first woman to hold a tenured position in anthropology in Australia.



Education - BSc, University of Melbourne
Education - MSc, University of Melbourne
1943 - 1945
Career position - Research Officer, CSIR Division of Industrial Chemistry
Education - Postgraduate Diploma in Nutrition, Institute of Anatomy, Canberra
Career position - Member of the Commonwealth Department of Health Nitration Expedition to New Guinea
1948 - 1949
Career position - Nutritionist, Australian-American Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land
Education - Post-graduate Diploma in Social Anthropology, University of London
1953 - 1955
Award - Walter Mersh Strong Research Fellowship, University of Sydney
1955 - 1956
Award - Emslie Horniman Studentship, Royal Anthropological Society, London
1958 - 1960
Career position - Social Anthropology Consultant in Malaya for the World Health Organisation (WHO)
Career position - Nutrition Consultant in Indonesia for the FAO
Career position - Research Officer, Department of Economics, Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University
Education - PhD, Australian National University
Career position - Lecturer in Anthropology, University of Manchester
Career position - Nutrition Consultant in Africa for the FAO
1965 - 1970
Career position - Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University of Sydney
1973 - 1974
Career position - Senior Fellow, Food Institute of the East-West Centre, Hawaii
1975 - 1976
Career position - Senior Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University of Sydney

Published resources

Journal Articles

  • Lepervanche, Marie de, 'Obituary: Annie Margaret McArthur, 1919 - 2002 13(2):230-1', Australian journal of anthropology, vol. 13, no. 2, 2002, pp. 230-1. Details
  • Specht, Ray L,, 'Obituary: Margaret McArthur Oliver 1919 - 2002', Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 12, no. 2, 2003, pp. 127-8. Details
  • Specht, Ray L., 'Margaret McArthur Oliver', Australian Aboriginal Studies, vol. 2002, no. 2, 2002, pp. 122-4. Details

Helen Cohn