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The Australian National University

Dr Karen Fox

Postdoctoral Fellow

Room: 2136, Coombs
Ph: 6125 8359

Postdoctoral Fellow, National Centre of Biography
Research Editor, Australian Dictionary of Biography

Areas of interest

Famous lives, reputations and biographies; media and cultural history, especially about representations of gender and race; comparative and trans-national history of settler societies, particularly Australia and New Zealand; women’s, gender and feminist history; political and legal history, particularly relating to issues of gender and race; cross-cultural encounters, colonialism and imperialism; Aboriginal Australian and Maori history; Nineteenth and twentieth century Australian and New Zealand history.


BA, History and Political Science, University of Canterbury
BA (Hons), History, University of Canterbury
MA, History, University of Canterbury
PhD, History, Australian National University

Biography and interests

Karen Fox is a postdoctoral fellow in the National Centre of Biography and a research editor for the Australian Dictionary of Biography. Karen joined the NCB in 2011, after completing her PhD at the Australian National University and her MA at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her PhD thesis was a study of the shifting ways in which ideas about race, gender and nation were reflected and constructed in print media depictions of prominent Aboriginal and Māori women during the second half of the twentieth century. Her MA thesis was a history of knighthoods and damehoods in New Zealand since 1917, with particular emphasis on the awarding of titles to women.

Karen’s research interests include twentieth-century Australian and New Zealand history, imperial and colonial history, gender and feminist history, media history, the history of fame and celebrity, and biography and life writing. She has taught Australian and colonial history at the Australian National University, and her research has appeared in the Women’s History Review and Aboriginal History. Karen has two current major research projects, a history of the Australian honours system and a history of fame and renown in Australia since Federation.

Current research projects

Karen is currently writing a history of the Australian honours system, in which she emphasises issues of gender, race and class as well as exploring shifting conceptions of honour and reputation. The project provides a fresh way of looking at imperialism and colonialism in the Australian setting. Karen is also interested in the transnational and comparative history of imperial honours, and is researching the use and abandonment of imperial honours in other settler societies, especially New Zealand and Canada.

Karen is also developing a major research project on the history of fame and celebrity in Australia.

Selected publications


Fox, K. Māori and Aboriginal Women in the Public Eye: Representing Difference, 1950-2000 (Canberra, ANU E Press, 2012).

Articles and Chapters

'Heroes, Legends and Divas: Framing Famous Lives in Australia;, in Paul Arthur, ed., Australian Identity and Culture: Transnational Perspectives in Life Writing (London: anthem Press). Forthcoming;

'"A pernicious sytem of caste and privilege": Egalitarianism and official honours in Australia, New Zealand and Canada', History Australia. Forthcoming

'An imperial hangover;? Royal Honours in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, 1917-2009', Britain and the World. Forthcoming;

'" Housewives' Leader Awarded MBE": Women, Leadership and Honours in Australia', in Rosemary Francis, Patricia Grimshaw and Ann Standish eds., Seizing the Initiative: Australian women Leaders in Politics, Workplaces and Communities (Melbourne: eScholarship research Centre, University of Melbourne), (2012), pp. 171-184;

'Globalising Indigeneity? Writing Indigenous Histories in a Transnational World', History Compass 10(6), (2012) pp. 423-439;

'An Encounter With the White World of Wimbledon: Evonne Goolagong and Representations of Race and Gender in Australia', replubished in Keir Wotherspoon and Erik Ropers, eds., Written Into History: Celebrating Fifty Years of the Melbourne Historical Journal, 1961-2011 (Parkville: The Melbourne Historical Journal Collective), (2012) pp. 427-442;

‘Matriarchs, Moderates and Militants: Press Representations of Indigenous Women in Australia and New Zealand’, Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, (2012);

‘Knights and Dames in Australia’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, (2012);

‘Grand Dames and Gentle Helpmeets: Women and the Royal Honours System in New Zealand, 1917-2000’, Women’s History Review, 19(3) (2010), pp. 375-393;

‘Rosalie Kunoth Monks and the Making of Jedda’, Aboriginal History, 33 (2009), pp. 77-95;

‘Oodgeroo Noonuccal: Media Snapshots of a Controversial Life’, Indigenous Biography and Autobiography, Aboriginal History Monograph 17, eds. Peter Read, Frances Peters-Little and Anna Haebich (Canberra: ANU E Press and Aboriginal History, 2008);

‘An Encounter With the White World of Wimbledon: Evonne Goolagong and Representations of Race and Gender in Australia’, Melbourne Historical Journal 35 (2007), pp. 35-49;

Co-authored with Katie Pickles, ‘Success in Their Own Right: Dames on Top of the New Zealand Royal Honours System, 1917-2000’, History Now 11 (1 and 2) (2005), pp. 24-30.

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