Professor Helen Verran

PhD, B.Sc (Hons)

Senior Researcher 

Helen has had a varied career in the academy, teaching and researching—seven universities, four continents. Before taking up her professorship at Charles Darwin University, Helen spent twenty-five years teaching and researching in History and Philosophy of Science, at the University of Melbourne in Australia. During that time she worked closely with Yolngu Aboriginal knowledge authorities and scientists as they tried to work together in respectful ways. She published many papers on this work.

In the 1980s Helen worked in Nigeria for eight years, learning a lot from the Yoruba teachers she worked with.  Her book Science and an African Logic (Univ of Chicago Press, 2001) won several prestigious international prizes. 

Helen has worked in the Northern Territory on and off since 1987.  Most of her work has been with Indigenous organisations particularly focussed in Arnhem Land. She has investigated use of digital technologies, environmental management, and provision of education in remote Indigenous settlements.

Nowadays her research is concerned with governance, policy and politics in the areas of environmentalism and indigeneity, in Australia.  She travels to Europe each year to work in Germany, Norway, and Denmark.

In addition to working in several research projects with the Indigenous Knowledge and Governance Team, and supervising PhD students.

Research Interests

  • Studies in method: narrative, and ethnography in social science research
  • What does governance have to do with culture?

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Research Projects

Current Projects

Landscapes of Democracy (Co-Lead Investigator, 2016): Ethnographic research in Germany and Arnhem Land focused on the practice of parliamentary politics, and conjunctions between Yolŋu and Western political traditions.

Helen is assembling two book length texts: “Science and The Dreaming” and “Environmental Governance”

Researching governance research and services provision -

GroundUP -

Publications & Resources


Verran, H. (2001). Science and an African Logic. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Chambers, D.W., & Watson, H. (1989). Singing the Land, Signing the Land. Sydney, NSW: UNSW Press.

Watson, H., & Osibodu, B. (1984). Learning to Teach. London: Evans Bros Publishers.

Book Chapters

Verran, H., & Winthereik, B.R. (2016). Innovation with Words and Visuals. A Baroque Sensibility. In J. Law & E. Ruppert (eds), The Empirical Baroque. London: Mattering Press.

Verran, H. (2015). Enumerated Entities in Public Policy and Governance. In E. Davis & P. Davis (eds.), Mathematics, Substance and Surmise: Views on the Meaning and Ontology of Mathematics (pp. 365-379).  Springer International Publishing Switzerland. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-21473-3_18.

Verran, H., & Christie, M. (2014). Postcolonial Databasing? Subverting Old Appropriations developing New Associations. In J. Leach & L. Wilson (eds.), Subversion, Conversion, Development. Diversity and the Adoption and Use of Information and Communication technologies. Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Verran, H. (2014). Number. In S. Woolgar & N. Thrift (eds.), Globalization in Practice: An A-Z Guide. Oxford: OUP.

Verran, H. (2012). Number. In L. Celia & N. Wakeford (eds.), Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social. London: Routledge Books.

Verran, H. (2011). On Assemblage: Indigenous Knowledge and Digital Media (2003-2006) and HMS Investigator (1800-1805) . In T. Bennett & C. Healy (eds.), Assembling Culture (pp. 169-182). London: Routledge.

Journal Articles

Kramvig, B., & Verran, H. (2016). Epistemic Practices of Story Telling for Reconciliation. Reflection on violence, storytelling and gender in Sápmi/ Epistemiske praksiser i fortellinger for forsoning. Refleksjoner rundt vold, fortellinger og kjønn i det samiske samfunn. Tidsskrift for kj.nnsforskning, 40, s. 206–218

Green, L., Cohen, J., Gammon, D., Hilgart, A., Hoffman, T., Morrell, R., Verran, H., & Wheat, N. (2015). Plants, People and Health: Three Disciplines at work in Namaqualand. South African Journal of Science, 111(9/10), 1-12. 

Verran, H. (2015). Comparative Philosophy and ‘I’. Confluence: Online Journal of World Philosophies, 3, 171-188.

Verran, H. (2015). Governance and Land Management Fires Understanding Objects of Governance as Expressing an Ethics of Dissensus. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts [Special Issue: Governance], 15, 52-59.

Verran, H. (2014). Working with Those who Think OtherwiseCommon Knowledge, 20(3), 527-539.

Verran, H. (2014). Extending the Cosmopolitical Right to Non-humansValuation Studies, 2(1), 65-70.

Christie, M., & Verran, H. (2014). The Touchpad Body: A Generative Transcultural Digital Device Interrupting Received and Practices in Aboriginal HealthSocieties, 4, 256-64.

Verran, H. (2014). Anthropology as Ontology is Comparison as Ontology. Cultural Anthropology Website [The Politics of Ontology series]. Retireved from:

Winthereik, B., & Verran, H. (2012). Ethnographic Stories as Generalizations that InterveneScience Studies, 25(1), 37-51.

Verran, H., & Christie, M. (2011). Doing Difference Together – Towards a Dialogue with Aboriginal Knowledge Authorities Through an Australian Comparative Empirical Philosophical InquiryCulture and Dialogue, 1(2), 21-36.

Verran, H. (2010). On Being a Language and Culture Learner in a Yolngu WorldLearning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts, 2, 84-89.

Ayre, M & Verran, H. (2010). Managing Ontological Tensions in Learning & Aboriginal Ranger: Inductions into a Strategic Cross-­Cultural Knowledge CommunityLearning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts, 1, 2-18.

Research Reports

Christie, M., Verran, H., Cathcart, J., van Weeren, T., Spencer, M., Nasir, T., Campbell, M., Harrison, M., & Wallace, R. (2015). Indigenous Governance and Leadership Development Project: Final Report and Evaluation. Darwin, NT: Charles Darwin University Uniprint.

Invited Presentations

2014London, CRESC

Tromso University, Norwegian Arctic University

2014Linkoping University Sweden
2014Rhur University, Bochum
2013University of California
2013University of Singapore
2013University of Capetown
2013American Anthropological Association
2013Cornell History and Scoiology of Science
2012Dutch STS Summer School
2012Ruhr University Bochum
2012IT University Cophenhagen
2012University of Copenhagen

Awards & Memberships


2003Ludwig Fleck Prize
2003Herskovitz Prize


Advisory Board Mattering Press, UK

Editorial Board Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, and Technoscience (USA)

Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Supervision

Associate Supervision

  • Cathy Bow
  • Matthew Campbell
  • Greg Williams
Professor Helen Verran


T: +61 8 8946 7338

Melbourne, VIC & Darwin, NT


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