Australian-Canadian writer, anthropologist, big-wall climber, former soldier. Mainly, I just read too many Wilfred Thesiger, HW Tilman and TE Lawrence books at an impressionable age.

I studied for a BA in foreign languages (Arabic and French) and security studies before completing a Master of Anthropology – both at the ANU.  My research focuses on political and ecological perspectives in anthropology; interactions between state actors and remote-living peoples (nomadic and mountain societies) in High Asia and North Africa; conflict ethnography; hoplology and the microsociology of war crimes.

Other research interests include traditional societies and the sociopolitical construction of “indigeneity”; small arms trafficking and the anthropology of borders; global and local forms of Islam; and the evolution of jihadism in a hyper-connected world.

I’ve conducted fieldwork in fairly diverse locations – all over the Middle East and North Africa, the Thailand/Burma border, Cape York (Aboriginal Australia).

See the “Writing” tab for a complete record of my published work. Content on this blog is also permanently catalogued by the National Library of Australia and is available here.

I have a working proficiency with the French and Arabic languages and a basic knowledge of Kuuk Thaayorre. I have provided and can provide a translation service.

I run a Twitter feed which used to feature daily haiku but now, given these tumultuous times, tends towards current affairs. My LinkedIn profile can be found here.


Mountaineering & Big Wall Climbing

– Natural Selection (V 80° ice, first ascent), Mt Darwin, Southern Alps, New Zealand, 2014

– North Face of Mashanig (V, 5.11, first ascent), Hajhir Mountains, Soqotra, Yemen, 2014

 North Pillar of Kaga Tondo (V, 5.10+, solo), The Hand of Fatima, Mali, 2015

Tantalus Traverse (48hrs, sea level return), Coast Range, British Columbia, Canada, 2017

Traditional rock climbing up to 5.12a and ice climbing up to Wi5


– Crossing of Bass Strait by Sea Kayak, 2011

– Circumnavigation of Morton Island by Sea Kayak, 2014

– Hawkesbury Canoe Classic (Junior Winner), 10hr 27min, 2008

– NSW Marathon Canoe Series (Junior Winner), 2008

General Hijinks:

– Entrapment in the transit lounge at Cairo Airport during the Egyptian Revolution and a 56 hour foodless layover (robbed and broke) in Algiers Airport

– Waterless day in the Sahara desert between Timbuktu and Douentza, Mali

Prison sojourn in the Malian ‘zone d’urgence’



11 thoughts on “About

  1. Pingback: Hajj Al-Sahara – The Hand of Fatima | Dispatches from the Periphery

  2. Hi Elliott,

    I just finished reading your blog about the death of your friend Ash in Syria. I take my hat down to you for honouring his memory. Thank you

  3. I read your tribute upon reading the article discussion with his mum via media source. Beautiful & heartfelt but what I relate to is the honesty, respect & integrity in your words for your friend. True honourable words in his memory and whom he was morally and the humanity he felt. A trait that is lost today in many. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Dear Blog Author

    The National Library of Australia is interested in contacting the author of this blog with regard to its possible inclusion within PANDORA: Australia’s Web Archive. We were unable to locate any contact details onsite and are requesting that if you are interested in your blog being archived that you contact us at: webarchive [at] nla.gov.au.

    You can see more details on the Archive at the link below. http://pandora.nla.gov.au/about.html


    PANDORA team

  5. Mr Elliot, I was wondering if you could provide more information on your military background. Your bio on the ABC site mentions you being a former soldier. I’m interested in better understanding your service. Was your service in the Canadian, Australian or another nations armed forces? Which corps/branch were you in? Rank? Did you go overseas on any operations? Thanks for providing this information to better understand your perspective.

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