The Centre for
Centre for 21st Century Humanities

About us

The Centre for 21st Century Humanities brings together leading University of Newcastle researchers. It promotes high quality humanities research, using new methods for the new century.  Our vision is that by 2025 the University of Newcastle will be a world leader in humanities research.


Kate Ariotti

Between Death & Commemoration: An Australian History of the War Corpse

Dr Kate Ariotti has been awarded $379,405 funding through the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) scheme to enable her to conduct research into the history of the war corpse.

Ayahs and Amahs: Transcolonial Servants in Australia and Britain 1780-1945

Professor Victoria Haskins has been awarded $191,437 for her research project that looks at female domestic care workers from India and China who travelled to Australia and elsewhere during the period of British colonialism.

Bill Palmer

Landscape, language and culture in Indigenous Australia

Associate Professor Bill Palmer has been awarded $455,000 for his research project which aims to determine how culture and social diversity interact with landscape in representing physical space in the minds and grammars of speakers of Australian Indigenous languages.

Colonial Frontier Massacres Map

More than 250 Aboriginal massacres that occurred during the spread of pastoral settlement in Australia are documented in the online Colonial Frontier Massacres Map, created by a team led by Professor Lyndall Ryan.

Time Layered Cultural Map

The Centre for 21st Century Humanities is leading the development of a powerful software platform called the ‘Time-Layered Cultural Map of Australia’ (TLCMap). Funded by a 2019 $420,000 ARC LIEF grant, the TLCMap will allow humanities researchers to build digital maps with pathways and search the data held in different Australian repositories by location and time and compile new data sets.

Read more about other Centre for 21st Century Humanities projects.

The Centre for 21st Century Humanities fosters research that investigates human agency in our past, present and future.  An era of unprecedented human impact on the world and the rise of new digital technologies opens new questions about what it means to be human today. The Centre offers a forum for the creation of new knowledge for turbulent times and brings together areas of the humanities where the University of Newcastle has significant strength, namely:

  • Digital humanities, where humanities scholarship engages directly with digital technologies
  • The history of violence, which initiates a new field (Violence Studies) and offers exceptional opportunities for working across disciplines;
  • Social research services in the areas of primary industry development; generational health issues in rural areas; risk and engagement for major projects; and local government shared learning frameworks;
  • The materialist history of the book and of women's writing; and
  • Language theory, documentation and application, focusing on endangered languages in our region.


The Centre for 21st Century Humanities hosts public lectures, seminars and other events where we invite the community to engage with our research. Our most recent event was a public forum on artificial intelligence and the future of humanity. View more past events.

Digital Research Methods

Our expertise in this area includes work in online research collections, language analysis and digital mapping. We believe the combination of the deep understanding of culture in the humanities combined with digital tools and materials has applications outside academic disciplines. We are interested in developing partnerships with agencies and businesses in tourism, defence, and publishing, with Indigenous corporations and Land Councils, and with anyone who needs to deal with large amounts of written material.

Within the academy, we are pursuing new opportunities including applying methods from computational stylistics to analyse large collections of historical documents. Network analysis has applications across all our fields, from Napoleon to Stalin, and from 16th century English women writers to the 21st century workplace. Geographic Information Systems, helping see data in spatial terms, applies across the board. Visualisation through statistics and new presentation techniques can bring striking new insights in all corners of the humanities.

Engagement & Impact

People everywhere are interested in history, in language, in ideology. This is where the humanities have scale and impact.  The humanities can contribute to Newcastle as a creative city, adding an element of historical and cultural knowledge to the mix, through events and displays and through entrepreneurship. The Centre has an Industry Advisory Board (PDF 120KB) made up of 12 members of the community, business leaders and members of the GLAM sector.

These pathways will link the work of the 21st Century Humanities to the wider public and thence to policy debates and government initiatives.


There are exciting opportunities for new insights through deep collaborations between the humanities and disciplines from health, bio-medicine, science and engineering. Centre members already have projects of this kind underway and the Centre is providing funding to incubate new ventures.