Skip navigation
The Australian National University


Current studentsPast graduate research topicsGraduate successes

Current PhD students

Abby Cooper

Thesis topic: Sporting Grounds and Boxing Rounds: Indigenous sportspeople from the Western District, Victoria 1865-today



Nola Errey

Since moving to the South Coast of NSW to teach secondary history Nola has become increasingly involved in the local stories of the Yuin people from that region. In her thesis Nola is focusing on the history surrounding the Aboriginal Whalers at Twofold Bay near Eden.

Thesis topic: Aboriginal whalers of Two Fold Bay

Serene Fernando

Thesis topic: Strengthening our voice: a post-colonial narrative of the Kamilaroi people of north-west NSW

Paul Irish

Thesis Topic: Aboriginal historical places and people in Sydney

Paul has a background in archaeology and has worked for the last decade as an Aboriginal heritage consultant mainly around the Sydney area. He has a long standing interest in Aboriginal history, particularly in the Sydney region, and this has led to a number of projects seeking to better describe how Aboriginal people lived after European contact. In particular he is interested in the mid to late 19th century in the Sydney region, a time after initial government and settler interest in Aboriginal people had waned, but before and during the later spread of government influence seeking to control all aspects of Aboriginal life. This is a little studied period but a crucial one both for understanding the origin and development of Aboriginal communities in the region today and for examining how Aboriginal people reacted and adapted to the slow but steady growth of a large city. His doctoral research seeks to examine these issues through a study of the places used and lived in by Aboriginal people in this period, and by tracing the lives and movements of the people who used them.

Jacqui Lambert

Thesis topic: A History of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies 1959 -1989: The Changing Role of Aboriginal People

Spencer Leineweber

Thesis topic: Negotiating with the Power of Place in Post Contact Hawaii 1824-1854

My thesis focuses on the spatial interaction between the monarchy and
missionaries in 19th century Hawaii by examining the personal and the public realms. My interest concerns indigenous agency in the creation of architectural space and how Kauikeaouli, Kamehameha III used space to interface with the other, the foreigners living in Hawaii. Key to me is what we can learn about this period from the carefully decided spatial transformations responding to the
demands of a modernizing world.

Shannyn Palmer

Shannyn Palmer completed her BA Hons (History) at the University of Melbourne, graduating with 1st Class Honours. Shannyn’s research explores the embodied nature of Aboriginal historical practice, the embedded nature of Aboriginal histories within the land and the implications of this for traditional notions of methodology and writing within the discipline of History.

She is passionate about methodological innovation and imaginative approaches to scholarly writing. Her strong interest in Aboriginal cultural and historical landscapes, particularly with regard to the mapping and naming of place, has lead to her engagement with historical spaces that are not only archival, but also non-textual and ‘multi-sensory’. Shannyn is currently a Doctoral researcher on the ARC Linkage Project ‘Deepening Histories of Place: Indigenous landscapes of national and international significance’ which seeks to investigate landscape based histories and work to facilitate a deeper engagement with Aboriginal understandings of people and place and the connections between them. 

Rob Paton

Rob Paton has been a professional archaeologist for the last 30 years, working throughout Australia and overseas. He has worked for museums, government agencies, universities and as a consultant. Rob has published in books, journals and written reports in the disciplines of archaeology, anthropology and history. He is also a long time Board Member for the journal Aboriginal History (since 1992) where he presently holds the positions of Public Officer and Treasurer. Rob is one of three APAI’s for the Deepening Histories of Place project. His area of research is the Top End of the Northern Territory. Rob’s primary role will be to produce a research thesis based on his archival and field investigations. This research will also feed into other parts of the wider project including films, podcasts and publications. For Rob the project is an exciting opportunity to work collaboratively with a diverse team of experts, to engage more deeply with the discipline of history, and to work in one of the most beautiful parts of Australia.

Laura Rademaker

Laura Rademaker completed the Bachelor of Philosophy at ANU, majoring in History, Political Science and Spanish for which she was awarded the university medal in 2009. She has worked in public policy and in Native Title with the Northern Land Council. She is particularly interested in histories of missions in Australia, histories of language and translation, encounters between missionaries and Aboriginal people and the ways each understood (or misunderstood) each other. Her current thesis project looks at the way languages (Anindilyakwa, Wubuy and English) were used at Angurugu mission on Groote Eylandt under assimilation policy. She is currently based at the North Australia Research Unit in Darwin.

Julia Torpey

Julia Torpey is a descendent of the Eora people in New South Wales. She has recently moved from Melbourne to Canberra to commence work on the Linkage Project Deepening Histories of Place under the guidance of Professor Peter Read.

She has completed a Bachelor of Arts from The University of Melbourne majoring in Indigenous and Development Studies and a Masters of Urban Planning also from Melbourne. She has worked as a social and cultural planner and social researcher. Her interests  lie in story-telling and social justice, and she has successfully  merged these with projects including the publication of Urgent (2004) Random House, and collaborative theatre projects for the 2008 Next Wave Festival, 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions, and 2010 Fringe Festival. To support her interests she has recently completed studies in Indigenous Arts Management at the Victorian College of Arts.

Past graduate research topics


Ann McGrath and Ingereth MacFarlane on the day Ingereth submitted her PhD thesis 'Entangled Places'.

Tiffany Shellam's graduation ceremony

Ingereth Macfarlane
Entangled places: interactive histories in the western Simpson Desert, central Australia

Elizabeth Ganter
An Ambivalent Hospitality: Aboriginal Senior Public Servants and the Representation of Others in Australia's Self-Governing Northern Territory


Christine Hansen
Telling Absence: Aboriginal Social History and the National Museum of Australia

Karen Fox
Famous Women: the Representation of Well-Known Maori and Aboriginal Women in the White Imagination


Tiffany Shellam
Shaking Hands on the Fringe: Negotiating the Aboriginal World at King George's Sound

We have also served on panels and assisted other high achieving Doctoral students including Frances Steele (now at University of Wollongong; Margaret Jolly as primary supervisor), Mark Hannah (Peter Read primary supervisor), Rebe Taylor (Tom Griffiths primary supervisor).

Graduate successes

Tiffany Shellam

Tiffany Shellam, ACIH's first Doctoral graduate, has published a book from her thesis. Shaking Hands on the Fringe (University of Western Australia Press) was shortlisted in 2010 for the Western Australia Premier's Literary Awards. It was also shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards. These are not history-specific awards, so we congratulate Tiffany on an inspiring literary achievement.

Tiffany grew up in Perth, Western Australia. She moved to Melbourne to undertake an Arts degree before moving to Canberra to complete her PhD in history here  at the Australian National University. Tiffany has a tenured position lecturing in Indigenous History at Deakin University in Melbourne and has been awarded an Australian Academy of the Humanities Travelling Fellowship.

In 1826 the British set up a garrison on the edges of an Aboriginal world at King George’s Sound, the site of present day Albany, Western Australia, with the aim of deterring the French from occupying the area.

The British newcomers and the area’s Indigenous inhabitants, the King Ya-nup, came to share a small space, forcing both cultures to adapt in order to communicate and interact with one another. Within this sphere associations and friendships were formed that were as surprising as they were unique.

This ethnographic history narrates several intimate cross-cultural stories of the developing relationships between British and Aboriginal individuals at King George’s Sound. The episodes recounted go beyond the common ‘friendly’ or ‘violent’ encounters, unearthing instead how and why particular King Ya-nup engaged with the British world, utilising the new presence to seeming advantage.

Shaking Hands on the Fringe presents innovative history writing and beautifully crafted prose in the tradition of Greg Dening and other writers of ethnographic history.
Despite the limited scope of the subject, the first two points liberate this book into a national (and international) interest: it is not a local book.

Karen Fox

Karen Fox has been lecturing in Australian history at the Australian National University.

Ingereth MacFarlane

Ingereth MacFarlane is working as a consultant on native title claims and enjoying some post-PhD completion time on Kangaroo Island.

Christine Hansen

Christine Hansen has been working for the National Museum of Australia in curatorial and exhibitions work and is now working on the Steels Creek community Victorian bushfires project.

Christine Hansen's thesis was part of a Linkage project on 'Indigenous Collectors and Collections' with the National Museum of Australia, with Margo Neale as a partner investigator.

Her thesis is entitled 'Telling Absence: Aboriginal Social History and the National Museum of Australia'.

Christine is pictured below with supervisors Ann McGrath and Tom Griffiths. They partied on later that evening with Katherine Aigner, a former participant in an ACIH postgraduate workshop who is enrolled as a PhD student at ANU, and Dave Johnson, who is a Visiting Scholar with ACIH. Christine and Ann recently met with the Director of the National Museum of Australia, Andrew Sayers, to present a copy of the thesis and discuss Christine's findings.

After the graduation ceremony: Ann McGrath, Christine Hansen, Tom Griffiths.

L-R    After the graduation ceremony: Ann McGrath, Christine Hansen, Tom Griffiths.

The After Party: Katherine Aigner, Dave Johnson and Christine Hansen
L-R The After Party: Katherine Aigner, Dave Johnson and Christine Hansen.

Updated: 16 August 2012/ Responsible Officer:  Centre Director / Page Contact:  Web Publisher