Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus
1991 …2024

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research Biography

Professor Claire Smith is an archaeologist with the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. She specialises in symbolic communication, decolonisation and Indigenous knowledges. The materials she analyses range from rock art, statues and monuments to memorials, graves and social media. She decodes patterns in human behaviours to interpret the past, understand the present and envisage the future. She has worked with the Aboriginal community of Barunga, Northern Territory, every year since 1990 and with Ngadjuri people in South Australia since 1998.

Claire Smith has produced more than 200 publications in English, Spanish, Catalan, Arabic, Portuguese and Japanese. This includes 11 authored books and 8 anthologies (edited books and special issues of journals). She is editor of the 18-volume Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, with some 2,000 chapters and 11,521 pages (2nd edition, 2020). The first edition of this work is the 2nd most highly cited work and the 3rd most downloaded of 804 publications in Springer's Humanities, Social Sciences and Law collections for 2014. It has had over 420,000 downloads. 

Claire Smith is an elected member of the Australian Academy of Humanities and the Society of Antiquaries in the United Kingdom. In 2018, the Royal Anthropological Institute awarded Claire Smith the Lucy Mair Medal and Marsh Award, for sustained research with Australian Aboriginal communities that has contributed to human dignity. She is a University Medalist and former Fulbright PostDoctoral Fellow with the American University and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. 

Claire Smith has held one-year visiting posts at Columbia University in New York and at the University of Newcastle in NSW. In addition, she has been a short-term visiting scholar at Cape Town University, the University of Denver, Lock Haven University, Kyushu University and the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar.

Claire Smith is the twice-elected President of the World Archaeological Congress (2003-2014). She is committed to intellectually enriching academia by strengthening the global impact of research by scholars from low-income countries.

Claire Smith has raised over $6.3 million in funding for humanities research projects, including two Fulbright awards and eight grants from the Australian Research Council. Her areas of specialist expertise include decolonisation, Indigenous archaeology, rock art, gender, archaeological ethics, socially mediated terrorism, culturally informed sustainable development, and global archaeology.

Research Interests

Claire Smith has a broad intellectual vision and an inter-disciplinary approach to research, teaching and engagement. While she conducts occasional fieldwork with Indigenous groups in Asia and North America, her primary research is with Indigenous Australia. Her theoretical focus is decolonisation and semiotics in terms of the analysis of symbolic visual communication. She has undertaken collaborative projects with scholars from cultural studies, history, Indigenous studies, Indonesian studies, philosophy, anthropology and theology.

Since 1990, Claire has worked annually with Aboriginal communities in the Barunga region, Northern Territory, Australia. In 2019, her fieldwork is focusing on 1) identifying unmarked graves and 2) developing culturally sustainable health care services. She is working in partnership with Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Her research draws on generative and ground-up methods in which change is generated by collaborative research that engages Aboriginal knowledge practices. It takes a family-centred, culturally-informed, strengths-based approach that foregrounds cultural leadership, Aboriginal family values and individual aspirations. The research team aims to Bridge the Gap of cultural knowledge between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in order to Close the Gap in health, longivity, education and employment.

Claire has supervised the completion of 37 research theses: 12 Doctoral, 5 Masters and 20 Honours theses. She has examined 34 Masters and Doctoral theses for universities in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and the USA. Her former students, postdoctoral researchers and formal mentees have established high level careers in research institutions, government, museums, and archaeological consulting companies. A significant number have launched academic careers, at Griffith University, Charles Darwin University, and Flinders University in Australia; the University of Valencia and the University of Barcelona in Spain; and the University of Cologne, Germany.

Claire Smith's most recent books are Global Social Archaeologies: Making a Difference in a World of Strangerswith Koji Mizoguchi of Kyushu University, Japan, (Routledge 2019) and Prospect Hill: Memories of a Burned Village, with Heather Burke, Jordan Ralph and others (Wakefield Press 2021). In 2020, two of her books were reprinted: Indigenous Cultures in and Interconnected World, co-edited by Graeme Ward, (Routledge 2020), the Archaeologist's Field Handbook, co-authored by Heather Burke and Mick Morrison (Routledge 2020) and Country, Kin and Culture. Survival of an Australian Aboriginal Community (Wakefield Press 2020).

Supervised Students Successes

  • Apr 2017 Christopher Wilson - The first Aboriginal man with a PhD in archaeology
  • Kellie Pollard - The first Aboriginal woman with a PhD in archaeology (August 2019)

Completed Supervisions

Principal Supervisions:
  • Colonialism and contact (2)
  • Indigenous archaeology (2)
  • Gender archaeology (1)
  • Modern material culture (1)
  • Social archaeology (1)
Associate Supervisions:
  • Historical archaeology (2)
  • Aboriginal art (1)
  • Gender archaeology (1)


  • Registered

Research Areas

  • Archaeology

Supervisory Interests

  • Cultural heritage
  • Indigenous archaeology
  • Gender
  • Globalisation and indigenous peoples
  • Sustainable development
  • Aboriginal art
  • Latin American popular practices, processes of de-linking and decolonization


Dive into the research topics where Claire Smith is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or