20 June 2017

What do we know about Australia’s historical human past? Professor Ann McGrath, Director of the Australian Centre for Indigenous History at The Australian National University and one of our 17 newest Australian Laureate Fellows, is launching an innovative research initiative to expand our understanding of Australia’s deep hidden history.

Professor McGrath’s project, Rediscovering the deep human past: global networks, future opportunities, will ‘transform the scale and scope of Australian history’, exploring Australia's epic Indigenous narratives alongside relevant new scientific evidence.

Through this work, she will create a ‘big picture’ history of Greater Australia/Sahul (the continent including mainland Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea and other neighbouring islands).

Professor McGrath intends to develop new transdisciplinary techniques for researching the deep human past.

“Pre 1788 Australia is often portrayed as static and timeless, and consequently it is omitted from global history. We will work together to show how neglected forms of evidence, including epic Indigenous narratives, can shed light on this vast chunk of human time,” says Professor McGrath.

Professor McGrath has received the 2017 Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship. The ARC introduced this special fellowship in 2010. It is awarded to a highly-ranked female candidate from the humanities, arts and social science disciplines. These dedicated fellowships include additional funding for recipients to undertake an ambassadorial role to promote women in research.

Through her ambassadorial role, Professor McGrath will mentor a diverse generation of early-career scholars and assist them to join top international networks. She will also lead their training in digital research techniques and delivery platforms for researching this exceptional human history.

“As a young tutor, I was introduced to Kathleen Fitzpatrick as a living legend and a pathfinder for women scholars. It is a great honour to hold this special fellowship, which will provide development and networking opportunities for young Indigenous women and early career female scholars.”

Image: Professor Ann McGrath.
Image courtesy: The Australian National University