A/PROF Lisa Palmer

A/PROF Lisa Palmer




  • Dr Lisa Palmer is a human geographer who teaches and researches on human-environment relations and indigenous approaches to environmental and social governance. Her research takes a critical ecological approach and is focused on south-east Asia (particularly Timor Leste) and indigenous Australia. She is currently working on an ARC funded research project (2016-2019) on Spiritual Ecologies and Customary Governance in Post-conflict East Timor (with Andrew McWilliam, Anthropology, ANU).

    Her doctoral research examined ideas and practices of 'nature' and 'place' in the making of Kakadu National Park, while her post-doctoral work investigated new approaches to treaty and agreement making between indigenous peoples and others in Australia and other settler states. In recent years she has concentrated her field research in Timor Leste examining the intersection of custom and modernity in the diverse governance approaches of this new nation state. She has published widely in geography, anthropology and multi-disciplinary journals and is the co-editor of two books (Settling with Indigenous Peoples (Federation Press, 2006) and Honour Among Nations? (MUP 2004)).

    Her recent book, Water Politics and Spiritual Ecology: Custom, environmental governance and development (Routledge, 2015), is the culmination of a decade of ethnographic research in Timor Leste. It addresses a critical need for a sustained geographical and anthropological inquiry into the social issues of water governance. Exploring the ritual ecological practices, contexts and scales through which use, negotiation over and sharing of water occurs at the local level, the book shows the complex functioning and social, cultural, economic and environmental interdependencies of hydrological societies. It examines the difficulties local communities face in having their rights recognised and their efforts to maintain and assert control of their waterscapes in the face of r   


Member of

  • Australian Institute of Geographers. ordinary member 2006 -
  • Institute of Australian Anthropologists. ordinary member 2005 -


Selected publications


Investigator on

Additional Grant Information

  • Recipient Vice Chancellor's Engagement Awards 2014 Staff Engagement Project Grant for project titled 'Customary Approaches to Mental Health and the Timorese Health Sector'.   


Education and training

  • PhD, Northern Territory University 2001


Available for supervision

  • Y