The University of Newcastle, Australia


Nursemaids of Empire

Victoria Haskins, Swapna Banerjee (Brooklyn College CUNY)

The Indian ayah or nursemaid occupies a place of potent significance in the imaginary of British imperial and colonial histories. This project sets out to thoroughly historicize the Indian ayah (and other workers like her), who in caring for the families of their colonizers journeyed on new paths of social and geographic mobility, even as the symbolism of their role was transported across and between continents.

"Dreaming the Keepara" NSW: An Indigenous Cultural Perspective 1900 –2006

Raymond Kelly

Land, Children and Politics - Native America and Aboriginal Australia 1900 - 1930

(2011-2014) (ARC funded)
John Maynard

This project explores comparable experiences of oppression faced in the USA and Australia during the early decades of the 20th century. The analysis of the political and social experience of Native Americans and

Aboriginal Australians at this crucial time in world affairs will provide deeper historical insights into the rise of organised political activism and the fight for self-determination by those on the margins. This significant area of study invokes an innovative Indigenous historical approach with the potential to formulate new understandings of contemporary forms of resistance to oppression and cultural imperialism.

Serving Our Country: a history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the defence of Australia.

(2013-2016) (ARC Funded)
John Maynard, Mick Dodson (ANU), Geoff Gray (ANU), Allison Cazdow (ANU), Joan Beaumont (ANU), Samuel Furphy (ANU), Noah Riseman (Australian Catholic University)

'Serving Our Country' explores the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service in Australian defence and auxiliary services from the 1890s to 2000. This national project brings major agencies dealing with veterans, memorialisation and current defence personnel into collaboration with key collecting and exhibiting institutions. Partnerships between leading scholars and Indigenous families will address calls for recognition of their significant defence roles. This project will identify and research new collections, then

deliver accessible scholarly and popular outcomes, including biographies and family narratives that illuminate the Australian history of race, nation, service and citizenship.

National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network (NIRAKN)

(2013-2016) (ARC Funded)
John Maynard, Aileen Moreton Robinson (QUT), Larissa Behrendt (UTS), Steve Larkin (CDU), Maggie Walter (UTAS), Bronwyn Fredericks (CQ University)

The National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network is a multidisciplinary hub and spokes model network of Indigenous researchers at various stages of their career from over 20 collaborating universities, including AIATSIS. The aim of the network is to establish a coterie of skilled, qualified Indigenous researchers, creating pathways from undergraduate to postgraduate studies to establish a regenerative pipeline of new researchers, across institutions and fields of critical research importance. The network will provide a platform for new Indigenous multi-disciplinary research and the establishment of a critical mass of multi-disciplinary, qualified Indigenous researchers to meet the compelling research needs of our communities.


(2014-2019) (EU-funded)
Barry Morris, with Bruce Kapferer (University of Bergen, Norway) Chief Investigator

Under a broader international research program, the research will consider the different forms egalitarianism has taken globally. My specific project (Barry Morris) focuses on egalitarianism in settler colonial Australia, which takes up Dumont's notion of racism as the logical, but paradoxical outcome of egalitarianism, but grounded in the historical context of settler colonialism, rather than colonialism in general.

The Politics of Motherhood

Sara C Motta

This participatory research project will explore the politics of motherhood in Colombian and Brazilian social movements; the Movimento Sem Terra (Landless Workers Movement) and Solidarity Economy Movement in Brazil; and Ruta Pacifica and Colectivo de Mujeres Pazificas in Colombia. It will explore how motherhood as a practice, representation and identity intersects with three areas of movement politics: knowledge, ecology and gender. This will enable a deeper understanding and analysis of these new forms of popular politics that are reimagining and reinventing the nature of democracy against and beyond its liberal limitations. The communities who will participate in the research project are predominantly afro-Colombian and afro-Brazilian and in the Colombian case indigenous.

Politics, Education and Social Movements

Sara C Motta, with Sandra Gadelha & Ernandi Mendes.

This research project is funded by CAPES Brazil (the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior, the Brazilian Federal Agency for the Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education) for two years (July 2014-July 2016). With collaborators Profs Sandra Gadelha and Ernandi Mendes, State University of Ceará, and Prof Joyce Canaan, City University, Birmingham UK, Dr Sara C Motta will hold seminars/ workshops etc, enhancing Dr Motta's "politics of motherhood" project (see above) with women of colour and indigenous women in Ceará, Brazil, particularly in terms of developing a decolonial feminist perspective/praxis.

The Moravians in Greenland and Australia

Christina Peterson

Dr Peterson's PhD research focussed on the Danish mission to Greenland and the state missionaries' role in the transformation of Indigenous social relations, and the production of colonial subjects and capitalist subjectivities. She is currently developing a research proposal on a comparative study of the mission of the Moravian Brethren to Greenland (18th-19th centuries) and Australia (18th and 19th centuries) and the effects of global economy on their missionary strategies.

Constructing transnational Polynesian identities: soldiers, sportsmen and illegitimate masculinities

Lena Rodriguez

Polynesian men are sought out globally as sportsmen, heavy manual workers and standover men. They currently have the highest over-representation of any racial group in the United States military. Also Polynesian gangs are now the fastest growing ethnic-identified gang population in the United States. This research looks at how Polynesian masculinity has been constructed through the physicality of 'Warrior' in a colonial and post-colonial context and questions whether internalization of this representation denies other more nuanced masculinities to be enacted. Interviews were conducted with 48 Polynesian men aged 18-60 in two studies.

Past projects

In Her Place: state intervention and Indigenous domestic service in Australia and the United States, 1880-1945

Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (2009-13)(ARC-funded)
Victoria Haskins

From the late nineteenth century to the Second World War governments around Australia enacted and carried out policies involving the forcible placement and control of Indigenous girls and women in domestic service. Such state interventions had a major impact on race and gender relations but their significance for the shaping of the twentieth century nation is little understood. Offering a transnational analysis that compares the Aboriginal with the Native American experience of state intervention in domestic service, this project illuminates not only our national past, but also the deeper significance of Indigenous women's place in the history of settler colonial nations.

Houseboys: a transcolonial history of domestic service in the Asia-Pacific

(2011-2013) (ARC funded)
Victoria Haskins, Julia Martinez (Wollongong), Claire Lowrie (Wollongong), Frances Steele (Wollongong)

This project explores the history of male domestic service in the Asia-Pacific, considering the extent to which a transcolonial culture of domestic service was developed. Taking as case studies Australia, Fiji, Hogn Kong, Singapore, Indochina and the Philippines, we consider ways in which the migration of workers and colonisers encouraged the spread of common ideologies and practices of domestic service. By studying servants not only in the home, but in army barracks, hotels and on steamers we emphasise the mobility of colonial culture within the region. We offer new cultural perspectives on colonialism acknowledging British, non-British and Asian influences.

The 2013 Kenyan Elections and Memories of the Electoral Violence of 2007/2008

Jim Jose, Professor Pal Ahluwalia (University of South Australia), Ms Faith Ogeto (Nairobi, Kenya).

The project examines the electioneering process for evidence of memories of the violence in past elections in Kenya. It examines the key election speeches and manifestos of party leaders and other influential candidates, electoral advertisements, political pamphlets, newspaper coverage, the blogosphere and so forth.