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Biographical entry Hiatt, Lester Richard (Les) (1931 - 2008)

Born
1931
Gilandra, New South Wales, Australia
Died
10 February 2008
London, United Kingdom
Occupation
Anthropologist

Summary

Les Hiatt was widely regarded as one of Australia's foremost anthropologists, whose research focussed on Aboriginal traditional life and social organisation, politics, kinship and marriage, ritual, sexuality, myth and symbolism. He worked closely with Aboriginal communities in Australia's north and maintained his connection with them throughout his life. His research challenged and overturned earlier understanding of Aboriginal societies and refuted the notion of patrilineal descent as their primary social organisational principle. Hiatt played a central role in the reform of scholarship on Aboriginal societies, including the establishment of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science. During his presidency of the Institute Hiatt chaired the Committee of Inquiry into the Role of the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee (1976). Among Hiatt's most significant publications were Kinship and conflict: a study of an Aboriginal community in northern Arnhem Land (1965) and Arguments about Aborigines: Australia and the evolution of anthropology (1996). His 1982 film Waiting for Harry received the Royal Anthropological Institute Film award for the most outstanding film on social, cultural and biological anthropology or archaeology. Throughout his career Hiatt was noted for writing opinion and policy-related articles.

Details

Events

1952
Education - Graduated in dentistry, University of Sydney
1955 -
Career position - In practice in Bourke, New South Wales
1957
BA (hons), University of Sydney
1961 - 1991
Career position - Member of Department of Anthropology, University of Sydney
1963
Education - PhD, Australian National University
1967 - 1974
Career position - Joint editor, Mankind
1969
Career position - Visiting Professor, University of Pittsburgh
1974 - 1982
Career position - President, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies
1978 - 1991
Career position - Editor, Oceania
1982
Award - Royal Anthropological Institute Film Award for Waiting for Harry
1984
Career position - President, Section 25, Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science
1990 - 1991
Career position - Chair of Australian Studies, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Published resources

Book Sections

  • Hamilton, Annette, 'L. R. Hiatt: life, thought and misunderstanding' in Scholar and sceptic: Australian Aboriginal studies in honour of L. R. Hiatt, Merlan, Francesca, Morton, John and Rumsey, Alan, eds (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 1997), pp. 1-9. Details
  • Hiatt, L. R., 'It seemed an interesting career to follow' in Before it's too late: anthropological reflections, 1950 - 1970, Gray, Geoffrey, ed. (Sydney: Iniversity of Sydney, 2001), pp. 108-16. Details
  • Hiatt, L. R. and Jones, Rhys, 'Aboriginal Conceptions of the Workings of Nature' in Australian Science in the Making, R. W. Home, ed. (Sydney: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 1-22. Details
  • Meehan, Betty, 'Irreverent recollections of the making of an anthropologist' in Scholar and sceptic: Australian Aboriginal studies in honour of L. R. Hiatt, Merlan, Francesca, Morton, John and Rumsey, Alan, eds (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 1997), pp. 11-27. Details
  • Mulvaney, John, 'Conflict and the rituals of diplomacy: Les Hiatt and the AIAS' in Scholar and sceptic: Australian Aboriginal studies in honour of L. R. Hiatt, Merlan, Francesca, Morton, John and Rumsey, Alan, eds (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 1997). Details

Edited Books

  • Hiatt, L. R. ed., Australian Aboriginal mythology: essays in honour of W. E. H. Stanner (Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, 1975), 213 pp. Details
  • Merlan, Francesca, Morton, John and Rumsey, Alan eds, Scholar and sceptic: Australian Aboriginal studies in honour of L. R. Hiatt (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 1997), 309 pp. Details

Journal Articles

  • Hamilton, Annette, 'In memoriam: L. R. Hiatt (1931 - 2008)', Oceania, 78 (2) (2008), 129036. Details
  • Hiatt, L., 'Archaeologist who thrived on mateship', ANU Reporter (2001), 2. Details
  • Hiatt, L., 'The Rise and Fall of Daisy O'Dwyer', Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2 (2006), 111-115. Details
  • Merlan, Francesca, 'Lester Richard Hiatt, 1931 - 2008', Australian Journal of Anthropology, 19 (2) (2008), 233-6. Details

Helen Cohn