Professor Nicholas Brown

Position: Professor
School and/or Centres: School of History


Phone: (02) 612 53052

Location: Level 5, RSSS Building, 146 Ellery Crescent


BA, Hons (Australian National University) PhD (Australian National University)

Researcher profile:

My research covers several areas of Australian History, with a particular focus on twentieth century political, social and cultural change, drawing on biographical and environment approaches, and on historical perspectives on public policy development and processes. My teaching covers a wider field, including Australian economic development, World War II and the Cold War, the histories of empire and the major transformations across the twentieth century. While my training as a historian was completed at the ANU, I have benefitted from working in this university’s Urban Research Program, in the Australian Public Service, at University College Dublin and in the Centre for Historical Research at the National Museum of Australia. I have served on heritage and museum development committees, and enjoy the contributions a historian can make to interdisciplinary and applied projects. I also greatly enjoy research supervision.

My most recent projects have included A History of Canberra: with a focus on the intersection of government, community and environmental themes, and biographical studies of prominent figures in formative stages of the Australian public service and university sector. A common theme though much of my current work is an exploration of Australian international engagement, and the role of the concept of ‘the international’ in Australian political culture through the twentieth century. In the longer term, I hope to return to work on the environmental history of southern New South Wales, with a particular focus on the coastal region.

A representative sample of my publications:

with Ben Huf et al, ‘Capitalism in Australia: New Histories for a reimagined        future’, Thesis Eleven, online 2020

‘Cosmopolitan Obligation: Australian Engagement with Issues of Aid and    Development in the 1950s and 1960s’, Journal of Australian Studies, vol. 43, no.4, 2019, pp. 525-540.

‘Furnishing the Prime Ministerial Mind: Whitlam and the National Capital’ in      J. Hocking (ed), Making Modern Australia: The Whitlam government’s     21st century agenda, Monash University Publishing, Clayton Vic, 2017:   pp. 120-145.

A History of Canberra: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2014.

 ‘A Team of Rivals’ in Sam Furphy (ed), The Seven Dwarfs and the Age of the Mandarins: Australian Government Administration in the 1940s-1970s, ANU Press, Canberra, 2014, pp. 1-25.

‘Government, law and citizenship’, in Alison Bashford and Stuart Macintyre (ed.),The Cambridge History of Australia, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2013, pp. 403-429.

with Susan Boden, A Way Through: The biography of Rick Farley, UNSW Press, 2012.

‘Using Lives: Working With Life Stories in a Time of Revolution’ in Tony Gibbons and Emily Sutherland (eds), Integrity and Historical Research,       Routledge, 2011, pp. 108-130.

‘Student, Expert, Peacekeeper: Three Versions of International           Engagement’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol. 57, no. 1,      2011, pp. 34-52.

‘Enacting the international: Raymond Watt and the League of Nations Union’      in Desley Deacon, Penny Russell and Angela Woollacott     (eds), Transnational Ties: Australian Lives in the World, ANU e-Press,       2008, pp 75-96.

Nicholas Brown and Linda Cardinal (eds.), Managing Diversity: Practices of           Citizenship in national and post-national contexts - Ireland, Canada,          Australia, University of Ottawa Press, 2007.

'Born Modern: antipodean variations on a theme', The Historical Journal, vol.      48, no. 4, 2005, pp. 1139-54.

Richard Downing: Economics, advocacy and social reform in Australia,     Melbourne University Press, 2001

'Making Oneself Comfortable, or More Rooms Than People' in Patrick Troy         (ed.), A History of European Housing in Australia, Cambridge    University Press, 2000, pp.107-24

'One the Margins of the Littoral Society: The New South Wales South Coast        since 1945', Environment and History, vol. 4, no. 2, 1998, pp. 210-38

‘”Sometimes the Cream Rises to the Top, Sometimes the Scum”: The Exacting      Culture and Politics of Style in the 1950s’, Australian Historical Studies,         no. 109, 1997, pp. 49-63

'A Sense of Number and Reality': economics and government in Australia,           1920¬1950', Economy and Society, vol. 26, no. 2, 1997, pp. 233-56.

Governing Prosperity: Social Analysis and Social Change in Australia in the        1950s, Cambridge University Press, 1995.

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