We focus on the unfinished business of the past, especially as it surfaces in contemporary public debates, disputes and narratives. We deliberately deploy the plural term ‘histories’ to signal both the contestability of explanatory stories and to embrace our different theoretical and methodological vantage points – some of which are more frequently found in disciplines other than history.

We receive funding from a range of organisations including the Australian Research Council (ARC), government agencies, private industry, the not-for-profit sector and other universities around the world.

Our research is aligned to three major themes led by renowned scholars in collaboration with highly active and successful historians, literary and creative writers, and others, whose work relates to the strongest echoes of the past in present.

Research Pillars

Improving and Building Collections using community-led principles

This pillar comprises two parts, the first working with communities and institutions of long-standing collecting; and the second working with institutions and communities to build new collections.

Democracy and History

Reflecting a worldwide trend among democracies, Australian civic society has been eroded recently. We aim to build a comprehensive picture of historical literacy and identify areas where we need to increase knowledge and understanding of the past.

Security and Development

We work to understand how concepts of Security and Development have evolved and taken particular forms at different moments in Australia s post-white settlement history.

Our Research

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Externally funded research

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Survey on Attitudes to History

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Research Highlights

Below is a sample of some of our current projects, listed alphabetically by researcher.

This project aims to understand how narratives about the medieval past help form identities and spread ideologies in the present, across the political spectrum, time and national borders. It aims to generate new knowledge about medievalism and its persuasive power. It will shed new light on extremist exploitation of popular culture using an innovative interdisciplinary approach, digital analysis, and engaged partnerships.

This research will enhance capacity to identify extremist messaging and create new grassroots programs promoting political tolerance and resilience to extremist propaganda and far-Right ideology, generating social and cultural benefit by strengthening Australian security, social cohesion and national values.

This project aims to reverse the trajectories of Menang Nyungar knowledge imbedded in a historical fish collection, returning language, stories, and fishing practices to the Menang community.

By working in a cross-sector, collaborative and Indigenous-governed team our research will enrich and re-frame the understanding of this collection in the National Museum of Scotland and Natural History Museum, London, unearth Indigenous taxonomic practices, produce new histories of biocultural collections, and develop the ‘kaartdijin model’ for participatory cross-cultural and cross-sector collaborations.

Workshops on Country will produce content for a digital reassembling of the collection to be used by museum partners, ensuring wide cross-sector and community engagement with project outcomes.

The project will be governed by the Albany Heritage Reference Group Aboriginal Corporation and partnering with National Museums Scotland; Natural History Museum, London; National Museum of Australia; Western Australian Museum; The University of Western Australia; and the City of Albany.


The concept of national security is much invoked in contemporary Australian politics and policy but much less interrogated for its roots and genealogy.

Those who have explored the concept of national security have come predominately from the related disciplines of international relations and strategic studies. Historical references in research to date are few fleeting and selective. What is missing is an understanding of the how the concept evolved and took particular forms at different moments in Australia s post-white settlement history.

This project will fill this gap by historicising national security as it manifested in Australia for the period since federation 1901-2021. In showing that the concept of national security has deeper roots than post 9/11 it will provide a stronger basis for bridging what is sometimes described as a gulf between a modern Canberra national security community and the broader Australian community.

After the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, Western militaries agreed that force along would not defeat the spectre of global terrorism.

The US, UK, and Australian militaries set forth new doctrine outlining the need to build trust with local populations and emphasized that moral principles in military conduct were critical to counterinsurgency warfare.

Rhetorically, the War on Terror was positioned as defending democratic values: the Bush administration claimed the war in Afghanistan would liberate Muslim women. Yet the War on Terror was characterised by the weaponization of race and gender by Western militaries. Military policies dehumanized enemies, allies, and civilians alike, leading to torture and civilian deaths. In military prisons, the gender of women soldiers was exploited to degrade and violate detainees. Racialized and gendered warfare fuelled resentments toward occupying forces – the most diverse force ever deployed by Western militaries.

While US, UK, and Australian militaries promoted diversity as a strategic strength, women and minority soldiers faced epidemics of sexual violence and racism within their ranks. Drawing on oral history methods, I will examine how women and minority veterans make sense of their experiences as victims and perpetrators of gendered and racialized violence. In doing so, I aim to identify patterns of violence in the War on Terror, and analyse how racialized and gendered warfighting undermines peacebuilding efforts.

CCH provided seed funding toward the project in 2020 through their History and Policy fellowship, supporting research relating to a significant issue of contemporary public policy. I used the funding to undertake archival research in existing interview archives with US veterans from the War on Terror, focussing on the Iraq Experience Project from the United States Institute of Peace.

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