Dr Malcolm Allbrook

Dr Malcolm Allbrook

Position: Managing Editor
School and/or Centres: National Centre of Biography

Position: Senior Lecturer
School and/or Centres: School of History

Email: malcolm.allbrook@anu.edu.au

Phone: (02) 612 54455

Location: Level 5, RSSS Building, 146 Ellery Crescent


BA Hons (UWA) PhD (Griffith)

Researcher profile: https://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/allbrook-m

Malcolm Allbrook is Managing Editor with the Australian Dictionary of Biography and a Research Fellow in the National Centre of Biography. He joined the NCB in 2014 after working as a Research Associate in the School of History at the ANU between 2011 and 2014. His first 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’ which was published as Henry Prinsep's Empire: Framing a Distant Colony by ANU Press in 2014. Before joining the ANU, he worked as a historian and exhibition curator, chiefly with Aboriginal organizations throughout Western Australia. In 2013, with the Kimberley Aboriginal elder John Darraga Watson, he published Never Stand Still: Life, land and politics in the Kimberley. 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. In 2017 he co-authored a collaborative community history of the Worrorra people of the Dambimangari native title lands: Barddabardda Wodjenangorddee: The creation, history and people of Dambeemahgaddee country (Fremantle Press, 2017). The same year, with Mary Anne Jebb, he published Carlotta's Perth: Memories of a Colonial Childhood (City of Perth, 2017). He is also the author of numerous articles and ADB biographies, notably of the former governor-general and cabinet minister Sir Paul Hasluck, and the historian and writer Dame Mary Durack. He was also author of the ADB biography of Mungo Woman and Mungo Man.

Malcolm Allbrook’s research interests include:

(1) Australian history

(2) Colonial and transnational histories in the Indian Ocean region

(3) Indigenous histories, and collaborative ways to research and present community histories using voice, sound, photographic and filmic imagery

(4) Biography and life writing, including the associated genres of family history, memoir, autobiography, and microhistory.

(5) Landscape history and the deep past, particularly issues connected with biography and life writing of ancient lives.

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

  1. He is a chief investigator on the ARC Indigenous Discovery project 'An Indigenous Australian Dictionary of Biography.' The project will publish 190 new biographies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and explore new biographical methodologies. It started in 2017 and will be completed in 2022.
  2. With his co-investigators. Shino Konishi (UWA), and Tom Griffiths (ANU), he is preparing a book entitled ‘Reframing Indigenous Biography.’
  3. With historian Mary Anne Jebb, he is working on a book entitled 'Blood Shadow: Hidden Histories of the Pilbara’ which is due for completion in 2021. In collaboration with the Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre, the book will present alternative views on the history of the Pilbara region of WA. His larger project on the Pilbara, which he intends to develop into a book, is driven by his interest in the interaction of people with the environment. His principal area of interest - the Burrup Peninsula and hinterland - is known for its extraordinarily rich rock art and other archaeological evidence of ancient and precolonial occupation and land use, and for its modern history as one of Australia's premier industrial regions, as well as a postcolonial history of pastoralism and pearling. How Aboriginal people negotiated, responded to and survived the impact of colonialism, including industrial development, is the central question of the project.
  4. He is editor of the Australian Journal of Biography and History which is published twice a year by ANU Press.
  5. He has also played a central role in the formation of a family history network, which seeks to build collaboration in the field of family history. He co-convened an international conference 'Related Histories' at the National Library of Australia in November 2017, and is currently preparing, with Dr Sophie Scott-Brown, an edited volume of papers from the conference which is due to be published by Routledge in 2021.


HDR Supervision:

  1. Chair, Supervisory Panel, Stephen Kinnane (APA, commenced 2017): Topic: ‘Beyond the Land of Promises: Indigenous visions and development narratives in the East Kimberley.’
  2. Chair, Supervision Panel, Anthony MacGregor (APA, commenced 2017): Topic: ‘”Mouthless Gods”: Kimberley Rock Art in the Australian imagination, 1929-2000’. Completed TPR March 2018.
  3. Member, Supervision Panel, Nichola Garvey (APA commenced 2018): Topic: ‘Second Fleet Women, First-Rate Survivors.’
  4. Member, Supervision Panel, Jenni Bird (APA commenced 2018): Robert Edward Knox – The ‘Flash Fighting Man’: One infamous convict’s journey through the New South Wales colonial penal system, 1829-1869.’
  5. Member, Supervision Panel, Rebecca Collard (APA commenced 2018): Topic: ‘An investigation of Gender, Race and Sexuality within the policy of Biological Absorption in Western Australia, 1920s -1940s.’
  6. Member, Supervision Panel, Elizabeth Hellwig: Topic: ‘Sisters in Service.'



In 2020, Malcolm is convener of the postgraduate biography course ‘Biography and History (HIST8011).

Updated:  29 September 2022/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications