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Tessa Keenan


Name: Tessa Keenan

Title: Curatorial Research Fellow, Research Centre

Qualifications: Master of Indigenous Studies (UNSW), Bachelor of Arts (UNSW)

Research interests: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, contemporary Indigenous art, education

Contact details

Tessa Keenan
Research Centre
National Museum of Australia
GPO Box 1901

Phone: +61 2 6208 5093

Tessa Keenan

Tessa Keenan is a Curatorial Research Fellow at the National Museum of Australia's Research Centre.

Current activities

Songlines exhibition

Tessa is currently working with Senior Indigenous Curatorial Fellow Margo Neale on an exhibition about the Seven Sisters Songline to be held at the National Museum in 2017. The exhibition is a major output of the Australian Research Council project Alive with the Dreaming! Songlines of the Western Desert – a cross-cultural collaborative and inter-disciplinary research project with the elders, artists, dancers and singers of the APY, Ngaanyatjarra and Martu Lands of the Western Desert. The Songlines Project aims to increase national recognition and understanding of Indigenous Songlines as complex pathways of spiritual, ecological, economic, cultural and ontological knowledge.   

Songlines of the Western Desert project website


Tessa joined the Museum in January 2012 to work with Margo Neale on the Songlines Project. Prior to working at the Museum, Tessa was an Associate Lecturer in Indigenous Studies with Nura Gili Indigenous Programs at the University of New South Wales, where she also completed a Master of Indigenous Studies.

Publications and presentations

Keenan T, ‘Wati Nyiru by Judy Trigger’, The Museum, issue 5, March–August 2014.

Neale M and Keenan T, 'Talking around the Songlines: Kungkarangkalpa and Ngintaka', Goree, volume 9, issue 2, 2012, pp.16-17.

Sherwood J, Keenan T, Keech S and Kelly B, ‘Indigenous studies: Teaching and learning together’, in Nola Purdie, Gina Milgate, Hannah Rachel Bell (eds), Two Way Teaching and Learning: Toward culturally reflective and relevant education, Australian Council for Education Research Press, 2011.

Keenan T and Kelly B, ‘Indigenous Studies: developing a dialogue toward Social Justice’, Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues, vol. 14, no. 2-3, 2011, pp. 185-198.

Watts, L, Ampt, AJ, Sherwood, J and Keenan, T, ''When they give you the nod, they give you the confidence' - Indigenous medical students’ perceptions of the Pre-Medicine Program', in 11th National Rural Health Conference Proceedings, National Rural Health Alliance, Canberra, presented at National Rural Health Conference Proceedings, Perth, 13-16 March 2011.

Keenan T and Kelly B, ‘How to inform a more just and reconciled society? Social justice is an education issue’, paper delivered at the inaugural National Indigenous Policy and Dialogue Conference – Indigenous Policy and Dialogue: New Relationships, New Possibilities, University of New South Wales, 18-19 November 2010.

Keenan T, ‘Colonisation and the Indigenous Peoples of Australia, Aotearoa and Rapa Nui’, Rapa Nui Journal, Vol. 23, No. 1, 2009, pp. 18–25.

Keenan T, ‘Indigenous Education and Social Policy Development in NSW’, paper presented at the Australian Social Policy Conference, Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales, July 2009.