Marcia Langton AM (b. 1951), Foundation Chair and Professor of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne, is a descendant of the Yiman and Bidjara nations of Queensland. She has published widely in the field of Aboriginal studies, on topics including land tenure, agreement-making, art and film. Her publications include Burning Questions: Emerging Environmental Issues for Indigenous Peoples in Northern Australia (1998) and Settling with Indigenous People (2006). Langton is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences of Australia, a member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), and a board member of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership. She was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1993 for services to anthropology and advocacy of Aboriginal rights. In this portrait Langton’s seated pose refers to her interest in Buddhism; black and white skulls signal the politics of humankind; and a radiant diamond-sun alludes to her successful work with Aboriginal communities and mining companies. These symbols are deliberately open to interpretation: the overall feeling is one of dynamism and energy.
Brook Andrew (b. 1970), a Wiradjuri artist, placed Langton in a pose referring to the interest in Buddhism that she developed while living in Asia in the early 1970s. He says that the black and white skulls signal the politics of humankind, and the radiant diamond-sun alludes to the sitter’s work with Aboriginal communities and mining companies; but the symbols are deliberately open to interpretation.