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Research interests

Rachel Yuen-Collingridge is an Associate Lecturer in the Department of History and Archaeology. Her research and teaching covers the ancient as well as the modern world. Her main research interests converge on questions about how knowledge is created, shared, managed, and preserved by communities. 

As an ancient historian who works on papyrus manuscripts, she has pursued her interests by looking at scribal practice in a range of domains. She has worked on the mechanics of how scribes reproduced and edited texts, what manuscripts can tell us when we look beyond the level of content to their format, script, and layout about the communities that produced and used them, and how authenticity is cultivated and signalled by particular scribal choices. In particular, she is interested in how knowledge technologies are built to support both expert and lay communities of practice and the manner the properties of those technologies (their materiality and knowledge systems) constrain and allow different ways of thinking and doing. Her work thus looks to put historical artefacts in dialogue with a range of theoretical approaches from extended mind paradigms in philosophy, cognitive and affective systems, statistical approaches from data science, design and art theory, as well as cultural heritage management.


Rachel has experience working on several papyrological projects focused on scribes, readers, the reception of manuscripts, forgery and the creation of canons. She has been a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the ARC funded Discovery Project 'Ancient Egyptian Papyri: Unlocking Secrets to the History of Writing' (ARC DP 190100240, 2019–2021, under Prof. M. Choat, Prof. Damian Gore, and Dr. Rodney Ast) and was previously appointed on the ARC funded Discovery Project ‘Forging antiquity: Authenticity, Forgery and Fake Papyri’ (ARC DP 120103738, 2017–2019, under A/Prof. M. Choat and Dr. R. Ast) in the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University. She has worked on the ARC funded projects ‘Papyri from the Rise of Christianity in Egypt’ and ‘Knowledge Transfer and Administrative Professionalism in a Pre-Typographic Society’. Her doctoral work focused on knowledge transfer through the historical investigation of the development of specific Greek words from the pre-Classical period through to the modern (Historical Lexicology and the Origins of Philosophy: Herodotus’ use of philosopheinsophistes and cognates, Macquarie University).

She has received funding for a number of projects on magical papyri including ‘Reading Content and Format in the Greek Magical Papyri from Roman Egypt’ (Australian Academy for the Humanities Travelling Fellowship, 2014) and ‘Authority and Artefact: Magic, scripture and administration in papyrus manuscripts from Graeco-Roman Egypt’ (Postdoctoral Fellowship in the History of Early Christianity, Macquarie University, 2016) and is currently working on a re-edition of PGM XIII in collaboration with Richard Gordon, under the direction of Sofía Torallas Tovar, Christopher Faraone, and Janet Johnson (

In addition to these interests, she is also pursuing cross disciplinary work on intersubjectivity and historical practice, memory and cognition, the history and reception of psychoanalysis, microhistory as well as cultural heritage and the history of ancient history itself. In these domains she has explored questions about the rights of the dead, what constitutes cultural continuity, how selfhood is constructed, why privacy matters and how it relates to intimacy: that is, how and why we connect or fail to connect with others.

Markers of Authenticity

First with Professor Malcolm Choat and Lauren Dundler, and then with Dr Margie Borschke, she has run the interdisciplinary seminar series, Markers of Authenticity, within the Faculty of Arts in Macquarie University from 2016 on. The seminar's past events and talks can be seen here:

Cultural Heritage

She is also committed to developing guidelines for the ethical pursuit of ancient world studies. A preliminary code of ethics was drafted together with Malcolm Choat, Lauren Dundler, and Richard Bott, and presented to the 41st Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Classical Studies in Dunedin (2020). It can be viewed here: She is on the advisory board of the monograph series Papyrotheke: Testi e studi di papirologia e cultura scrittoria antica (ISSN 2612-3649) and in her forthcoming work is extending academic discussions about cultural heritage and provenance from artefacts (and specifically papyri) through to manuscripts and textual evidence of all kinds. She is interested in critically examining the implications of the cultural heritage debate for the ethics of our engagement with the past in general.

Research Student Supervision

Rachel is open to consultations regarding prospective MRes primary or associate supervision on topics related to papyrological evidence from Graeco-Roman and Late Antique Egypt, with a specific focus on scribal practice, religious communities and religious change, identity and multiculturalism, and the so-called Graeco-Egyptian magical papyri. Her research work and publications can also support topics on cultural heritage matters (specifically related to the ethics of engaging with textual evidence, but also more generally on postcolonial approaches to collecting, museums, and the history of the disciplines). In addition, topics on the reception of antiquity from late antiquity through to the early modern period which intersect with her project work on forgery, the evolution of dictionaries, the emergence of archaeology and the development of ancient history and textual criticism in the Early Modern period and into the eighteenth century, collecting practices and postcolonial approaches to the history of the disciplines. Her background in psychology and history of work in cognitive approaches to memory can support interdisciplinary thesis topics on emotionology, memory, cognition, self and other in the Greek papyrological evidence from Graeco-Roman and Late antique Egypt.

Rachel is always happy to have discussions with students contemplating further study and helping them align their postgraduate ambitions with broader career plans both within and outside academia.  


Education/Academic qualification

Ancient History, PhD, Historical Lexicology and the Origins of Philosophy: Herodotus' use of philosopheein, sophistes, and cognates, Macquarie University

Award Date: 31 Jul 2013


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