Meet our student

Angel Bottaro

Course of study:
Bachelor of Arts (Anthropology and Aboriginal Studies) Honours

“I gained an internship with Melbourne Museum which led to being employed in their Indigenous Collections”

Anthropology staff at La Trobe have in my experience delivered a dynamic space to both challenge and foster the development of students through intellectual ideas. They are key assets of the University whose doors are open to students seeking to expand upon their knowledge bases. Many of my lecturers motivated my learning during my degree, each bringing nuanced teaching, expertise and diversity.

My long-standing passion for Indigenous history and artefacts led me to an internship at Melbourne Museum, thanks to one of my anthropology lecturers recognising my interest and facilitating a pathway for me to gain work experience there. During the internship I worked with objects from Melanesia which form part of Museum Victoria’s Indigenous Collections, and which were assembled at the time of the Australian administration in New Guinea. Following my internship, I was able to continue at the Museum as a volunteer within the Humanities Department, which ultimately led to me being employed in a temporary role as Assistant Access Manager to the Indigenous collections. The crux of my work at Museum Victoria entails facilitating access to the collections, particularly for Indigenous communities and researchers. When that role finished, I was fortunate to be able to continue my research in a voluntary capacity, working under the supervision of Pacific Cultures curator and anthropologist Elizabeth Bonshek, as well as other senior Museum curators.

My studies at La Trobe have profoundly influenced my world view, especially in the processes of critical thinking and analysis. My course and anthropology especially has taught me to seek knowledge and form opinions by reflecting more fully on ideas and concepts, and scrutinising them from holistic and analytical perspectives. These analytical skills are fundamental in the social sciences. Learning the skills to actively consider and weigh information within political and historical contexts is increasingly significant in today’s hyper technological age and global world.

After completing my degree I decided to complete an honours year. My Honours topic will focus on the material culture that forms the ethnographic collection at La Trobe University, containing around a thousand objects. My preliminary thinking is to explore both the social and historical contexts involved in curating this collection in the 1980s. I will build on prior research I have worked on within the Department of Social Inquiry at La Trobe, to further investigate the benefits this collection has for the University and its students, as well as the Indigenous communities whose ancestors made these objects. I am fascinated by museum collections and in particular, Oceanic Arts from Australia and Melanesia, and this Honours topic will allow me to deepen my knowledge and specialisation in this area.

I believe my ongoing engagement and links with both Melbourne Museum and La Trobe University offers an opportunity for mutually beneficial outcomes, especially in researching La Trobe’s own ethnographic collection while concurrently developing other research interests.

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