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The Australian National University

Dr Rani Kerin

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

BA (Hons) Monash, 1998
PhD ANU, 2005

Biography and interests:
I studied at Monash University and the ANU before moving to the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, where I taught Australian History for five years.  I returned to the ANU in 2010 to take up a position as Research Fellow in the National Centre of Biography.

I take a people-centred approach to history and regard biography as one of history's most important and interesting genres.  Studying individuals - either singularly or collectively - not only provides new insights into past events, but can offer new perspectives on a range of issues.  In my work, for example, I have used biography to explore and expose the variety of views that existed on humanitarianism, assimilation, racial mixing and racial difference in Australia.

Current research projects:
1. Diane Barwick: A biography
Diane Barwick's path-breaking work on Victoria's Aboriginal population influenced countless anthropologists and historians.  Working in the 1960s and 1970s she was one of the first anthropologists to recognise the Aboriginality of mixed-descent people and was instrumental in setting up the journal Aboriginal History.  Her personal papers have only recently been deposited with the State Library of Victoria and, apart from an MA thesis completed in 1993, very little has been written about her.

2. A Collective Biography of Nimbin's Pioneer Hippies
Focusing on the people behind the 1973 Aquarius Festival, Graeme Dunstan, Johnny Allen, Paul Joseph and others, this study will explore the origins of Nimbin -- Australia's alternative capital.  It will look closely at the social and political context that led thousands of young people to descend on the small town in northern NSW, and examine the connection between counter-culture and Aboriginal culture that was a feature of the festival and remains a source of pride for many Nimbinites today.

Current teaching:
Writing Biography (Masters in Biography)

Select Publications:
Doctor Do-Good:  Charles Duguid and Aboriginal Advancement, 1930s-1960s (Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, forthcoming, 2011)
An Attitude of Respect: Anna Vroland and Aboriginal Rights, 1947-1957 (Melbourne: Monash Publications in History, 1999).

Journal Articles and Book Chapters
'Becoming Aboriginal in the Era of Assimilation', Rethinking the Racial Moment: Essays on the Colonial Encounter, edited by Alison Holland and Barbara Brookes (London:  Cambridge Scholars Publishing, forthcoming, 2011)
'Dogging for a living: Aborigines and Undesirables in Central Australia', Frontier, Race, Nation:  Henry Reynolds & Australian History, edited by Bain Attwood, Tom Griffiths (Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009).
'Mixed up in a bit of do-goodery: Judy Inglis, Activist Anthropology and Aboriginal History', History and Anthropology, 8:4 (2007), p.427-442.
'"Natives Allowed to Remain Naked": An Unorthodox Approach to Medical Work at Ernabella Mission', Health and History, 8:1 (2006)
'Sydney James Cook/Duguid and the importance of being Aboriginal', Aboriginal History, 29 (2005), p.46-63.
'Charles Duguid and Aboriginal assimilation in Adelaide, 1950-1960: The nebulous assimilation goal', History Australia, 2 (2005), 85.1-85.17.

Updated: 8 March 2011/ Responsible Officer:  Head of School / Page Contact:  Web Publisher