Research

Current Projects

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

Australian Research Council (ARC), 2020-22

Professor Victoria Haskins (UoN), Professor Swapna Banerjee (Brooklyn College, CUNY), Claire Lowrie (UoW), Srishti Guha (UoN)

This research project brings to life the experiences and histories of the world’s first global domestic workers, the Indian Ayahs and the Chinese Amahs who were employed by colonial families during the period of British colonialism. Prominent historians from Australia, Asia and India will conduct internationally collaborative research on the transcolonial origins of global migrant domestic work. The project aims to understand and articulate the historical connections between colonialism, carework, and labour mobility as related to female domestic care workers from India and China.

NSW Aborigines Protection/Welfare Board 1883-1969

Australian Research Council (ARC), 2015-18

Professor John Maynard (UoN), Professor Victoria Haskins, Dr Raymond Kelly (UoN), Dr Lorina Barker (UNE), Dr Laurie Bamblett (ANU), Professor Jakelin Troy (USYD) Lachlan Russell (AIATSIS)

From 1883 until 1969, the lives and affairs of Aboriginal people in NSW were utterly controlled by the Aborigines Protection/Welfare Board. For the first time, a comprehensive investigation of the Board's activities and subsequent effects on the lives and families of Aboriginal people in NSW will be undertaken including both archival and oral history research.

Past projects

National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network (NIRAKN)

Australian Research Council (ARC), 2013-2016


John Maynard (UoN), Aileen Moreton Robinson (QUT), Larissa Behrendt (UTS), Steve Larkin (CDU), Maggie Walter (UTAS), Bronwyn Fredericks (CQ University)

The National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network (NIRAKN) 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.

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

Australian Research Council (ARC), 2013-16


John Maynard (UoN), Mick Dodson (ANU), Geoff Gray (ANU), Allison Cazdow (ANU), Joan Beaumont (ANU), Samuel Furphy (ANU), Noah Riseman (ACU)

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.

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

Australian Research Council (ARC), 2011-2013

Victoria Haskins (UoN), Julia Martinez (UoW), Claire Lowrie (UoW), Frances Steele (UoW)

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.

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

Australian Research Council (ARC), 2011-2014

Professor 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.

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

Australian Research Council (ARC), 2009-13

Professor 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.

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.