Dr Maria Nugent

Position: Co-Director
School and/or Centres: Australian Centre for Indigenous History

Email: maria.nugent@anu.edu.au

Phone: (02) 612 52445

Location: Level 5, Room 5.43, 146 Ellery Cres


BA (Australian National University) MA (University of Sydney) Grad Dip (Adult Education) (University of Technology Sydney) PhD (University of Technology Sydney)

Researcher profile: http://history.cass.anu.edu.au/people/maria-nugent

Maria Nugent is Fellow in the Australian Centre for Indigenous History in the School of History at ANU. She is the author or editor of five books on cross-cultural history in Australia, and has published widely in Indigenous Australian history and memory studies. Her work straddles academic and public forms of history, with a particular focus given to analysing past and present modes of telling history and making memory in cultural heritage, community and museum contexts, and through art, oration and objects, performance, petitioning and diplomacy, and film and television. She has recently co-edited with Professor Sarah Carter (University of Alberta) a book on Indigenous people’s interpretations of Queen Victoria in Australia, New Zealand, southern Africa and Canada. At present, she is contributing to two collaborative projects to research and interpret historical collections held by public museums and libraries, including the British Museum, the National Museum of Australia, Museum Victoria and the State Library of NSW. She was previously co-editor of Aboriginal History journal and is currently Chair of the Board of Aboriginal History Inc.

Indigenous history, public history, oral history and memory, material culture studies, and cross-cultural encounters in maritime and overland exploration.


Shino Konishi, Maria Nugent and Tiffany Shellam (eds), Indigenous Intermediaries: New Perspectives on Exploration Archives (ANU Press, 2015).


Captain Cook Was Here (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Botany Bay: Where Histories Meet (St Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 2005).

Edited Books:

Carter, S. and Nugent, M. (eds), Mistress of Everything: Queen Victoria in Indigenous Worlds, Manchester University Press, 2016.

Shellam, T, Nugent, M, Konishi, S and Cadzow, A, (eds), Brokers and boundaries: Colonial exploration in Indigenous territory, ANU Press, Canberra, 2016.

Konishi, S., Nugent, M., & Shellam, T (eds) Indigenous Intermediaries: New Perspectives on Exploration Archives, ANU Press, Canberra, 2015.

Jointly Authored Books:

Sculthorpe, G, Carty, J, Morphy, H, Nugent, M. et al, The BP Exhibition Indigenous Australia Enduring Civilisation, The British Museum Press, London, 2015.

Byrne, D. and Nugent, M. Mapping Attachment: A Spatial Approach to Aboriginal Post-contact Heritage, NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, Sydney, 2004.

Edited Journals:

Konishi, S. and Nugent, M, ‘Baz Luhrmann’s Australia’, Special issue of Studies in Australasian Cinema (SAC), 4:3, 2010.

Kennedy, R. and Nugent, M., ‘Scales of Memory’, Australian Humanities Review, no. 60, August 2016.

Book Chapters:

Nugent, M., ‘The politics of memory and the memory of politics: Australian Aboriginal interpretations of Queen Victoria, 1881-2011’, in S. Carter and M. Nugent (eds), Mistress of Everything: Queen Victoria in Indigenous Worlds, Manchester University Press, 2016.

Shellam, T, Nugent, M, Konishi, S et al, 'Brokering in colonial exploration: Biographies, geographies and histories', in (ed.), Brokers and boundaries : colonial exploration in indigenous territory, ANU Press, Canberra, 2016, pp. 1-14.

Nugent, M. 'Jacky Jacky and the Politics of Aboriginal Testimony', in Konishi, S, Nugent, M. and Shellam, T. (eds), Indigenous intermediaries: new perspectives on exploration archives, ANU Press, Canberra, 2015.

Nugent, M, ''An Echo of That Other Cry': Re-Enacting Captain Cook's First Landing as Conciliation Event', in Kate Darian-Smith and Penelope Edmonds (ed.), Conciliation on Colonial Frontiers: Conflict, Performance and Commemoration in Australia and the Pacific Rim, Routledge, New York and Abingdon, 2015, pp. 193-210.

Nugent, M., 'Encounters in country', in G. Sculthorpe et al,  The BP exhibition Indigenous Australia enduring civilisation, The British Museum Press, London, 2015, pp. 120-210.

Konishi, S, Nugent, M, & Shellam, T, 'Exploration Archives and Indigenous History: An Introduction', in S Konishi, M Nugent and T Shellam (ed.), Indigenous intermediaries: new perspectives on exploration archives, ANU Press, Canberra, 2015.

Konishi, S & Nugent, M, 'Newcomers, c. 1600-1800', in Alison Bashford and Stuart Macintyre (ed.), The Cambridge History of Australia, Cambridge University Press, 2013, pp. 43-67.

Nugent, M., ‘An economy of shells: A brief history of La Perouse Aboriginal women’s shellwork and its markets 1880-2010’, in N. Fijn et al (eds), Indigenous Participation in Australian Economies II, ANU E Press, Canberra, 2012.

Select Refereed Journal Articles:

Nugent, M, 'Shellwork on show: Colonial history, Australian Aboriginal women and the display of decorative objects', Journal of Material Culture, vol. 19, no. 1, 2014, pp. 75-92.

Konishi, S, Shellam, T & Nugent, M, 'Aboriginal Australians and Boundary Crossings', Melbourne Historical Journal, vol. 42, 2014, pp. 37-81.

Nugent, M, 'Tracing lineages: The work of remembering, mourning and honouring in Romaine Moreton's The Farm', Studies in Australasian Cinema, vol. 7, no. 2, 2013, pp. 179-188.

Nugent, M., ‘Sites of segregation/sites of memory: Remembrance and ‘race’ in Australia’, Memory Studies, 6:3, July 2013, (special issue: ‘Memory Studies in Australia’, edited by Susannah Radstone and Rosanne Kennedy), pp. 299-309.

Nugent, M. ‘Displaying the decorative: An exhibition history of Aboriginal women’s shellwork’, reCollections: A Journal of Museums and Collections, 7:2, October 2012.

Nugent, M. ‘“The queen gave us the land”: Aboriginal people, Queen Victoria and historical remembrance’, History Australia, 9:2, 2012, pp. 182-200.

Nugent, M., ‘“Every right to be there”: Cinema spaces and racial politics in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia’, Australian Humanities Review, issue 51, November 2011, pp. 5-23.

Nugent, M., ‘“You really only made it because you needed the money”: Aboriginal women and shellwork production, 1870s to 1970s”, Labour History, vol. 101, November 2011, pp. 71-89.

Other Publications:

‘Aboriginal people and their children, 1913’, Glorious Days: Australia 1913, Michelle Hetherington (ed.), (Canberra: NMA Press, 2013)

‘Emma Timbery: Shellworker’, Dictionary of Australian Artists Online (http://www.daao.org.au/)

‘Oral traditions’, Companion to Women’s Historical Writing, Mary Spongberg, Barbara Caine and Ann Curthoys (eds), (London: Palgrave, 2005) (reissued in paperback 2009)

‘Timbery, Emma (c. 1842-1916)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2005)

‘La Perouse’, Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture, Sylvia Kleinert and Margo Neale (eds), (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2000)

LP1600100415 How the Wild West Show changed Australian history (led by Professor Paul Memmott, University of Queensland, with Museum Victoria, State Library of NSW, and Queensland Museum)

The Wild Australia Show (1892-93), staged by a diverse company of Aboriginal people for metropolitan audiences, provides the focus for an interdisciplinary study of performance, photography, collections and race relations in colonial Australia. Using archival and visual records, and in partnership with key cultural institutions and Indigenous communities, the research seeks to produce an authoritative and original interpretation of the Show situating it within local, national and transnational narratives informed by contemporary Indigenous perspectives.

LP150100423 The relational museum and its objects (led by Professor Howard Morphy, ANU, with the British Museum, National Museum of Australia, and Museum of the Riverina)

Reconnecting Indigenous Australian communities with ethnographic collections is central to contemporary museum practice. Yet, the historical dispersal of objects across museums, nationally and internationally, makes relationship and reconnection a challenge to communities and museums alike. This partnership between the ANU, the NMA and British Museum, in collaboration Indigenous communities and regional museums in the UK and Australia, aims

to develop and pilot approaches that facilitate Indigenous people’s access to and engagements with distributed collections and objects. By doing so, the project seeks to contribute to new theory around the ‘relational museum’, and new modeling of museum practice and museum development in Australia.

DP110100931 Exploring the Middle Ground: New Histories of Cross-Cultural Encounters in Australian Maritime and Land Exploration (with Dr Shino Konishi, UWA, and Dr Tiffany Shellam, Deakin University)

The study proposes the concept of the middle ground to describe and represent the nature of cross-cultural encounters and relations within the history of Australian maritime and land exploration. Through as series of detailed cross-cultural historical studies of key exploration expeditions, the study seeks to re-establish the critical importance of exploration as a 'site' in which relations between Indigenous people and others developed, including in ways that were influential in shaping later race relations within the context of occupation and settlement. In this way, the concept of the middle ground is also presented as a means by which to unsettle Australian history's conventional periodisation into pre-settlement and settlement phases.

FT100100073 Remembering Dispossession: Interpreting Aboriginal Historical Narratives

This project grapples with the challenge to produce Australian historical studies that have Aboriginal people's own interpretations and moral reasonings at their core. The notion of 'remembering dispossession' is offered as a means for exploring the ways in which Aboriginal people have used historical storytelling and other modes of remembrance to make sense of their experience, and of themselves and others, under radically altered condition. The project entails fresh critical engagement with 'dispossession' as a key theme and concept in Australian history.

Shortlisted for the Nettie Palmer Prize for Non-fiction in Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards (2010)

Allan Martin Award for early career historian (2004)

NSW Premier’s History Prize for Community and Regional History (2006)

Shortlisted for Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for first book of history (2006)

Shortlisted and highly commended for Australian Historical Association’s W.K. Hancock Award for first book of history (2006)

Australian Historical Association

Aboriginal History Board Inc.

Updated:  18 December 2020/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications