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Nicholas Brown

Profile:

Name: Dr Nicholas Brown

Title: Senior Research Fellow, Research Centre, National Museum of Australia to late 2013

Qualifications: BA (Hons) (ANU, 1982) PhD (ANU, 1990)

Expertise:

  • twentieth-century Australian history
  • public policy and history
  • Australian engagement in transnational and international change
  • trends and debates in biography and social history
  • perceptions of the environment
  • building connections between historical perspectives and contemporary issues
  • mentoring historical writing and research
  • teaching and supervision in history
  • public outreach and commentary on historical questions
  • conference and workshop organisation and facilitation

Current projects:

  • A Way Through: The Life of Rick Farley (book, co-authored with Dr Susan Boden)
  • A Concise History of Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory (book)
Nicholas Brown
Nicholas Brown

Dr Nicholas Brown was a Senior Research Fellow at the National Museum of Australia’s Research Centre from xx to xx, and Associate Professor at the School of History, Australian National University.

His research interests span 20th-century Australian environmental and social history, with a particular focus on biographical approaches.

Current activities

  • A Way Through: The Life of Rick Farley (book, co-authored with Dr Susan Boden) – a biographical study of a leading environmental, Aboriginal and primary industry commentator, adviser and activist. Farley made an unlikely transition from the counter-culture of the late 1960s to rural politics in the 1980s and 1990s and then into work on reconciliation and native title issues. In the process, he was instrumental in developing the National Landcare Program and the development of the principles under which the Native Title tribunal’s operate. He also brokered native title and Indigenous land use agreements across Australia. His biography provides a perspective on a series of formative social and political contexts, and on processes of building consensus on questions often surrounded by conflict.
  • A Concise History of Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory (book) – to mark the centenary of the foundation of the national capital, and to develop a synthesis between the issues of government, community and the built and natural environment as they have been reflected in the symbolism and development of Canberra.
  • Australia’s engagement with ‘the world’ and with ‘the international’ through the twentieth century – a research project analysing the forms taken by that engagement and the objectives pursued. How have Australians understood their ‘place’ in the world, and in the different forms in which shared causes and interests have been understood between nations and transnational social and political movements? This project will assess those understandings, and associated experiences.
  • A history of changing concepts of government, law and citizenship in twentieth century Australia. Central questions to be addressed in this research are: how have Australians understood and acted out their sense of citizenship, and their rights and identities within the structures of government and law? How have those understandings changed, and how do they relate to experiences in areas such as work, community, family, privacy, arrivals and departures, protest and insecurity?
  • A social and environmental history of the New South Wales south coast since the 1920s. From several perspectives, this area offers a microcosm of major trends in twentieth century Australian history: the rise and fall of industries and associated communities; the experience of isolation but exposure to change; environmental contest and regulation; mobility, leisure and retirement. This project seeks to understand the intersection of such dynamics in a particular place and in a distinctive landscape.

Background

Dr Nicholas Brown (b. 1961) works across a broad range of Australian social, political, environmental and cultural history, including the exploration of biographical and transnational perspectives. His appointment to the Centre of Historical Research alternates on a six-monthly basis with his work in the School of History, Australian National University, which includes teaching at all undergraduate levels, the supervision of postgraduate students, and the coordination of national workshops in biography and environmental history (both co-sponsored by the NMA).

Nicholas is a graduate of the ANU, has worked in the Department of Defence and Foreign Affairs and Trade, and in 2002-04 was Keith Cameron Professor of Australian History at University College, Dublin. He is chair of the Commonwealth Working Party of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, a founding member of the National Institute for Rural and Regional Australia, of the Australian Policy and History Network and in 2007 was a member of Prime Minister’s External Reference Group on the Teaching of Australian History.

Achievements

  • Keith Cameron Professor of Australian History at University College Dublin (2002-4)
  • Member of Prime Minister’s External Reference Group on the Teaching of Australian History (2007)
  • Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Postgraduate Supervision (2010)

Professional activities

  • Chair of Commonwealth Working Party of the Australian Dictionary of Biography
  • Founding member of National Institute for Rural and Regional Australia
  • Member of the Australian Policy and History Network