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Personal profile


My research centres on the construction and representation of difference in liberal democratic political and popular cultures. This has produced work that investigates a wide variety of historical contexts and representations. This includes research on the dynamic of settler-colonialism and changing constructions of manhood in nineteenth century Victoria, anthropological constructions of the "Aborigine" in nineteenth century Australia, sexuality in contemporary historical films, contestations over masculinity in the representation of the AFL, and the impact of changing ideas about sexuality on the operation of citizenship in late-modern Australia.


I completed my PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2006 under the supervision of Joy Damousi.  My doctoral research investigated the relationship between political rights, gender difference and settler colonialism in nineteenth century Victoria.   After the completion of my thesis I lectured in the School of Historical Studies at Monash University and in 2007 was awarded a Leverhulme Trust Visiting Fellowship (UK) to undertake research at the Centre for History and Theory at Roehampton University.  Recently I have published work that emerged out of my doctoral research and other work that centres on gender and sexuality in contemporary Australian political and cultural life.  At present I am completing a manuscript that investigates the relationship between settler colonialism, suffrage and sovereignty in the nineteenth century British World.  In 2019 I will take up editorship (with Michelle Arrow and Kate Fullagar) of History Australia.

Research interests

The Reach of Rights: The Limits of Liberalism in a British Settler Colony

Keywords: Settler Colonialism, Liberalism, British Empire, Race and Gender

Taking colonial Victoria as a case-study, this project examines debates amongst and between mid-nineteenth century liberals about the organisation of citizenship, a period in which so many of the everyday terms of our political life were becoming cultural common sense. The book will examine how liberals understood and managed the great contradiction of nineteenth century political life, namely, an expanding sense of democratic rights and increasingly punitive and exclusionary ideas about racial difference. In a theoretical sense, the book asks what the historiography of settler colonialism can teach us about British liberalism, and, what the historiography of British liberalism can teach us about settler colonialism. Colonial Victoria represents a paradigmatic example of settler-colonial dispossession, as land hungry settlers swamped an Indigenous population almost to the point of elimination and worked hard to exclude racially troubling populations at its borders; it presents a unique opportunity to examine settler colonialism in a condensed form and rework intransigent debates about the logics, limits and possibilities of both settler colonialism and liberal citizenship.


In the middle of the nineteenth century, Victoria achieved, in many ways, the kinds of democratic reforms liberals in Britain only dreamed about. At the same time, though, notions of gender and race were crucial axes of difference through political rights were granted, denied and challenged in this nineteenth century world. Crucially, the question of territorial sovereignty both prefigured and constantly unsettled these democratic reforms; racialized populations of Chinese miners and Indigenous survivors were a constant threat to the sovereign fantasies of exclusive settler possession. How then, did the historical relationship between settlers, migrants and indigenous peoples texture the history of British liberalism, and, what might this tell us about the limits and possibilities of liberal citizenship?


Gender, Sexuality and Australian Citizenship since 1969 (With Robert Reynolds, Michelle Arrow and Barbara Baird)

ARC Discovery Project DP170100502

Keywrods: Sexuality, Gender, Citizenship, Australia.


This project examines the effects and legacies of the feminist and sexual revolutions for citizenship in Australia. Australians have increasingly claimed rights and protections in the intimate languages of sexual and gendered identities. This has reorganised public culture in confounding ways and led to debates about intimate life and identity politics. This project will investigate the relationships between these diverse identities, and provide a critical genealogy of how these claims have opened up and challenged Australian citizenship since 1969.  Through a collection of diverse case-studies between 1969 and the present day, the project will trace the changing languages activists employed to make citizenship claims and the ways in which this re-imagined and re-formed the relationship between gender, sexuality and the state. The project hopes to benefit policy makers and stakeholders with a new understanding and framework to navigate this complex landscape.


MHIS211 War and Peace in World History

MHIS204 The Origins of Modern Australia

FOAR706 Feminism, Queer Theory and the Problem of Identity


Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or