Samuel Curkpatrick

PhD scholar, National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Australian National University

Sam's research explores tradition as event in the present, realised through the dynamic expressions of manikay song (a public style from Arnhem Land) within contemporary contexts, particularly the collaboration between Wägilak songmen from Ngukurr and the Australian Art Orchestra known as Crossing Roper Bar. Key themes include: Yolŋu song, dance, narrative and law; hermeneutics of tradition; cross-cultural engagement; cultural change and heritage.

Primary Supervisor and Panel Chair:
Professor Mick Dodson, Director of NCIS and Professor at the ANU College of Law.

Associate Professor Aaron Corn, ARC Future Fellow and Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology, and Music Chair of Research, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
Dr Frances Morphy, Fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR), ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences.

Sam comes from a background of classical clarinet performance, and has played principal roles in the Australian Youth Orchestra and at the Australian National Academy of Music. He enjoys teaching and lecturing, and has recently worked as an assistant curator at the National Museum of Australia.


  • 2012–2013
    Assistant Curator, National Museum of Australia


  • 2014 
    Australian National University , PhD
  • 2008 
    Monash University, BMus (Hons)


  • 2013
    Old Masters: creative articulations of an ancestral text, ReCollections 8, No.1

Grants and Contracts

  • 2011
    Research Grant
    Chief researcher
    Funding Source:
    Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies