ACIH Research Grants

Recently Awarded Research Grants


Beyond Reconciliation: Truth-Telling for Indigenous Wellbeing and the Health of the Nation

This project is funded by the ANU's 2019 Grand Challenges Scheme, focussing on Indigenous Health and Wellbeing. As humanities, arts and social science scholars, the Beyond Reconciliation team are committed to pursuing transformative social change through critical, creative and interpretative approaches. Beyond Reconciliation aims to ensure Indigenous communities can tell the true stories they want to tell in the ways they want to tell them, contributing to greater understanding, acknowledgement and respect for their historical truths, epic ancestral narratives, cultural, linguistic and environmental knowledge, and temporal perspectives. 

Beyond Reconciliation's large, interdisciplinary team includes: Maria Nugent, Lawrence Bamblett, Malcolm Allbrook, Jilda Andrews, Ian Coates, Shona Coyne, Kit Devine, Mary Anne Jebb, Mike Jones, Rosanne Kennedy, Shino Konishi, Robyn McKenzie, Karina Moret Miranda, Laura Rademaker, Peter Read, Ben Silverstein, and Mary Spiers Williams.


Mobilising Aboriginal objects: Indigenous history in international museums

The project aims to build knowledge about exceptional, but poorly-documented, Aboriginal objects from Sydney and NSW coast (c. 1770-1920s) in British and European museums. These objects have not been accessible to Aboriginal communities and other researchers. This project proposes a major innovation: to bring objects to Sydney for community-led and interdisciplinary interpretation. Outcomes will include strong relations between Aboriginal communities and overseas museums; a model for collaborative research about historic objects; and a material history of Aboriginal/colonial relations. It benefits communities, governments and museums by laying robust foundations for future projects seeking the return of Indigenous cultural heritage.

DP200102212 Dr Maria Nugent, Lissant Bolton, Caroline Cartwright, Gaye Sculthorpe, Nicholas Thomas
With the British Museum and the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom


Current Research Grants


Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellow: Rediscovering the deep human past: global networks, future opportunities

This project will analyse Australia's epic Indigenous narratives alongside relevant new scientific evidence in order to create a big picture history of Greater Australia/Sahul, and as a result transform the scale and scope of history. Fresh periodisations and understandings will reorient this history in its wider global context. Through critiquing the evolution of disciplines, especially the world history/prehistory divide and the Cambridge training nexus, the project will develop future-oriented transdisciplinary techniques for researching the deep human past. As part of the project, a diverse generation of early career scholars will join top international networks and be trained in digital research techniques and delivery platforms for researching this exceptional human history.

Australian Research Council funding: $2,845,869

FL170100121 Prof Ann McGrath


How Meston’s Wild Australia Show Shaped Australian Aboriginal History

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.

LP160100415 Dr Maria Nugent, Professor Paul Memmott, Dr Timothy O’Rourke, Lindy Allen, Charlotte Smith, Chantal Knowles, Richard Neville


The relational museum and its objects 

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.

LP150100423 Professor Howard Morphy, Dr Maria Nugent, Dr Lissant Bolton, Dr Gaye Sculthorpe, Dr Ian Coates, Dr Mathew Trinca
With the British Museum, National Museum of Australia, and Museum of the Riverina


Past Research Grants


The NSW Aborigines Protection/Welfare Board, 1883-1969: A History

 Between 1883 and 1967 the lives of Aboriginal people in NSW were in the hands of the NSW Aborigines Protection/Welfare Board. The impact of the Board’s systematic control over Aboriginal communities through policies of segregation, assimilation, child removal and wage withholding would endure for decades, and the negative results of those government directives are still being seen today. To date, however, no substantive history of the NSW Aborigines Protection/Welfare Board exists. This project will provide such a history, based on extensive archival and oral history research. Holding critical importance to NSW Aboriginal communities, the project will encourage the development of Indigenous historians in the process.

DP150100247 Dr Lawrence Bamblett


Engaging Objects: Indigenous communities, museum collections and the representation of Indigenous histories 

This partnership between ANU, the National Museum of Australia and the British Museum, in collaboration with Indigenous research participants and communities, centres on the research process leading up to a major exhibition of the British Museum's Australian Indigenous collections, and the post-exhibition impacts. it analyses historical and representational issues evoked in researching and creating the exhibition. It will result in new understandings of foundational Australian Indigenous collections and their historical and contemporary significance for scholars, Indigenous peoples and museums. It will contribute to the development of new museological paradigms about the display of Indigenous collections. The project contributed to two major exhibitions - Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation at the British Museum, and Encounters: Revealing Stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Objects from the British Museum at the National Museum of Australia. 

LP110100623 Professor Howard Morphy, Dr Maria Nugent, Dr John Carty, Dr Lissant Bolton (BM), Dr Ian Coates (NMA) and Dr Michael Pickering (NMA).
With the National Museum of Australia and the British Museum.


Australia's Ancient and Modern Pasts: A History of Lake Mungo

This project investigates the history of research relations between scientists and Traditional Owners at Lakes Mungo and Gregory. Connecting recent histories of agency and reconciliation with deep time, it will produce a publicly accessible narrative that increases national understanding of significant stories in the peopling of our continent.

DP110103193 Prof Ann M McGrath


Exploring the Middle Ground: New Histories of Cross-Cultural Encounters in Australian Maritime and Land Exploration

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.

DP110100931 Dr Maria Nugent, Dr Shino Konishi (UWA) and Dr Tiffany Shellam (Deakin University) 


'The Queen Gave Us The Land': Aboriginal people's histories and memories of Queen Victoria 

Queen Victoria is a potent figure in Aboriginal people's histories and memories. This project examines Aboriginal people's interactions with and interpretations of her as a means by which to chart their changing understandings about such matters as sovereignty and the authority and morality of the British Crown. By examining both interactions (i.e. petitioning) and interpretations (i.e. narratives), a key aim is to explore and theorise the relationship between historical experience and historical remembrance. An edited collection Mistress of Everything: Queen Victoria in Indigenous Worlds (Manchester University Press) was published in 2016 and co-edited with Professor Sarah Carter, University of Alberta. 

DP110100230 Dr Maria Nugent


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.

FT100100073 Dr Maria Nugent


Deepening Histories of Place: Exploring indigenous landscapes of national and international significance

Deeper knowledge of Australian landscapes and their interconnected histories of place will enhance the social well-being of the Indigenous and wider community. This regional and landscape-focused history project provides quality research outcomes that meet tourism industry demands for deeper historical insights into significant landscapes. Indigenous histories of people and land will be collaboratively researched. This project provides multi-media history training for both PhD students and local Indigenous people. It will see historians and other experts working with parks and major collections institutions towards richer interpretations of landscape. This innovative project renders Australia's complete history more accessible.

LP100100427 Prof Ann M McGrath, Dr Shino A Konishi, Prof Peter J Read, Dr Denis R Byrne, Dr Luke Taylor, Dr Darryl J McIntyre
Partner Organisations: Director of National Parks, National Film and Sound Archives , NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC), Ronin Films

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