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The Australian National University

Dr Malcom Allbrook

Position: Research Fellow and Managing Editor

School or Centre: National Centre of Biography


Phone: 61254455

Location: HC Coombes Building, Room 2125

Website: My profile website


BA Hons (University of Western Australia, 1977)

PhD (Griffith University, 2008)


Malcolm Allbrook is Managing Editor with the Australian Dictionary of Biography in the National Centre of Biography(NCB). He joined the NCB in 2014 after working as a Research Associate in the School of History at the ANU between 2011 and 2014.

Malcolm's degree was in Classics and Ancient History, followed by employment in the public sector in Western Australia and then senior research and management positions with Aboriginal organizations, firstly the Kimberley Land Council in Derby (1993 – 1998) and then the Yamatji Marlpa Land and Sea Council, the native title representative body for the Murchison, Gascoyne and Pilbara regions. He completed a PhD at Griffith University in 2009 with a thesis ‘Imperial Family: the Prinseps, Empire and Colonial Government in India and Australia’. This was published as 'Henry Prinsep's Empire: Framing a Distant Colony' by ANU Press in 2014.

Before joining the ANU, Malcolm worked as a historian and exhibition curator, chiefly with Aboriginal organizations throughout Western Australia. He was part of a team that curated ‘Burlganya Wanggaya’, an exhibition of Aboriginal history and culture in Carnarvon, Western Australia, which was awarded the MAGNA award for best permanent exhibition in 2012.

Research Interests

Australian history Colonial and transnational histories in the Indian Ocean region, the formal and informal networks connecting individuals and families around the oceanic sphere, and the diverse contexts in which they functioned and were sustained; Indigenous histories, including collaborative ways to research and present community histories using voice, sound, photographic and filmic imagery. Biography and life writing, particularly of those less visible in national and landscape narratives, and the use of the range of documentary source materials, including letters and journals, paintings and photographs, and oral histories. Landscape history and the deep past, particularly issues connected with biography and life writing of ancient lives.


Allbrook, Malcolm 2014, Henry Prinsep’s Empire: Framing a distant colony, ANU Press, Canberra

Allbrook, Malcolm 2013, ‘Letters across the Indian Ocean: Imaging Empire in the private writing of the Prinsep family, 1866 – 1922’

Ruth Morgan, Cecilia Leong-Salobir, Jeremy Martens, Western Australia in the Indian Ocean World, Studies in Western Australian History, 28, 2013, Centre for Western Australian History, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, WA, pp. 27 – 46

Allbrook, M, ed., 2012, Never Stand Still: Stories of Life, Land and Politics in the Kimberley, Jarlmadangah Burru Aboriginal Corporation, WA.

Jebb, M & Allbrook, M 2012, 'Exhibition - Burlganyja Wanggaya: Old People Talking'.

Allbrook, M 2012, ''A Triple Empire...United under One Dominion': Charles Prinsep's Schemes for Exporting Indian Labour to Australia', South Asia-Journal of South Asia Studies, vol. 35, no. 3, pp. 1-23.

Allbrook, M 2012, 'Book Review - Powering Perth: a history of the East Perth Power station by Lenore Layman', Circa The Journal of Professional Historians, no. 3, pp. 79-81.

Jebb, M & Allbrook, M 2008, 'Perspective 'First Contact'', in Deborah Gare & David Ritter (ed.), Making Australian History: Perspectives on the past since 1788, Thomson Learning Australia, Melbourne, pp. 78-87.

Allbrook, Malcolm, 'George Coolbul: Imagining a Colonised Life', Aboriginal History, Vol 32, 2008, pp. 49 - 62

Projects and Grants

Malcolm Allbrook is currently engaged on a number of research and writing projects:

  • He is part of a multi-disciplinary team preparing a history of the north Kimberley coast on behalf of the Dambinmanguri Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the Worrorra native title holders. Focussing on family histories and the history of contact with European colonisers, the project will result in a book to be published in 2015. 
  • He is currently engaged by the City of Perth to research and write a book on childhood in colonial Perth, through the journals, letters and photographs of Carlotta Brockman (nee Prinsep, 1869 - 1960) and her father Henry Charles Prinsep (1844 – 1922.
  • He is collaborating in the Lake Mungo history project, focusing on biography and life stories. This project takes a longue duree approach to Australian history by focussing on one place, the world heritage listed Lake Mungo in the Willandra Lakes region of NSW. 
  • With historian Mary Anne Jebb, a research fellow at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies, he is engaged by the Wangka Maya Pilbara Language Centre in Port Hedland on the ‘Hidden Histories of the Pilbara’ project to record oral histories and research archival sources of Pilbara Aboriginal people. This project will result in an exhibition to be shown at Port Hedland, the Western Australian Transport Museum in Perth and AIATSIS.
  • He is soon to commence a collaborative life writing project with a prominent Aboriginal footballer and community identity, who played over 200 games for East Perth and Carlton during the 1960s and 1970s, one of the first of many Aboriginal footballers who have made their names in the Australian game.

Updated: 20 July 2017/ Responsible Officer:  Head of School / Page Contact:  Web Publisher