Bronwen Douglas, BA (Hons)(Adelaide), PhD (ANU)
Senior Fellow, School of Culture, History & Language
For several years, my major research interest has been the history of the global concept of race and its particular manifestations in Oceania (conceived broadly to include Australia and Island Southeast Asia as well as the Pacific Islands). I am completing a monograph called Indigenous Presence and the Science of Race: Savants, Voyagers, and Encounters in Oceania 1511-1840. This book examines the interplay of metropolitan ideas, regional experience and Indigenous agency in European descriptions, representations and classifications of people encountered in Oceania. In 2010, I began a new ARC Discovery project on 'Naming Oceania: geography, raciology and local knowledge in the "fifth part of the world", 1511-1920'. This project correlates the conception, naming and partition of a space with the naming, division and (eventual) racial classification of people within it. By tracing knowledge about places and their inhabitants to actual encounters, the project investigates the co-dependence of local and metropolitan modes of knowing and naming. It also throws new light on the complicity of racial geography and anthropology in 19th- and early 20th-century imperial competition and colonisation.
Apart from the history of race, I have longstanding interests in the history of Melanesian Christianities; the intersections of Christianity, gender, and community in postcolonial Melanesia; and the colonial histories of New Caledonia and Vanuatu. My major theoretical and methodical concerns are the identification of traces of local agency in colonial and élite representations of actual encounters, including visual images and maps.
- Across the Great Divide: Journeys in History and Anthropology, Harwood Academic Publishers, 1998.
- 'Encounters with the Enemy? Academic Readings of Missionary Narratives on Melanesians', in Comparative Studies in Society and History, 43:1, 2001.
- 'From Invisible Christians to Gothic Theatre: the Romance of the Millennial in Melanesian Anthropology', in Current Anthropology, 42:5, 2001.
- (ed. with Anna Cole and Nicholas Thomas) Tattoo: Bodies, Art and Exchange in the Pacific and Europe, Reaktion Books, 2004.
- 'Slippery Word, Ambiguous Praxis: "Race" and Late 18th-Century Voyagers in Oceania', Journal of Pacific History, 41:1, 2006.
- (ed. with Chris Ballard) Foreign Bodies: Oceania and the Science of Race 1750-1940, ANU E Press, 2008.
- 'Terra Australis to Oceania: Racial Geography in the "Fifth Part of the World"'. Journal of Pacific History 45:2, 2010.
Senior Lecturer, La Trobe University (1979-96); Fellow/Senior Fellow, The Australian National University (1997-present); Visiting Fellow, Comparative Austronesian Project, ANU (1991); Visiting Professor, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris (1995 and 2007); Humanities Research Centre Fellow, ANU (1996); Caird Fellow, National Maritime Museum, UK (2001); Harold White Fellow, National Library of Australia (2010).