I completed my PhD in 2014, submitting on April Fool’s Day and then finally graduating in October. My thesis examined the racial and cultural divisions in Fiji through a history of the Methodist mission between 1900 and 1964. It highlighted the role of missionaries in sometimes resolving – but more often inflaming – tensions around labour and land, and influencing the development of nationalisms.
I have worked as a lecturer and research fellow since graduating, lecturing on Indigenous Australian histories, a historical methodology unit and sex and gender history at Deakin. One of the most exciting jobs I have had since completing has been teaching PNG history to students at the Pacific Adventist University. This was mostly done via Skype but also included my travelling up to stay on campus at Koiari Park, just out of Port Moresby, for a week to deliver intensive lectures and some excursions. I learned a lot from the experience and was so inspired by the students at their attitudes to learning and life in general. We sustained our focus on the development of nationalism in PNG throughout the semester and that as well as our discussions around archives and oral histories will hopefully trickle into the blog we are setting up together, that will showcase their ideas. I also have my own blog dedicated to this project.
I have extended my research into new areas and projects, most significantly with work on Papua New Guinean history. I have done this through my own research, as well as collaborative work with historian Dr Jonathan Ritchie and anthropologist Dr Victoria Stead on memories of World War Two along the Kokoda Track.
As an early career researcher, publishing has had to be one of my main preoccupations. My first journal article has been released with The Journal of Pacific History, and I have had my first book manuscript accepted by a publisher. I’ve delivered papers at conferences in Papua New Guinea, Taiwan and Denmark. In addition to these more traditional academic avenues for research dissemination, I have also had a piece published by The Guardian on the decision to change Fiji’s flag, and have written for the Lowy Institute’s Aus-PNG network. I have also revisited the Masters thesis I finished at the University of Melbourne in 2009 on the Lutheran Aboriginal Mission at Hopevale, as I was interviewed by Indigenous producer Ian Ludwick for the documentary he and his company, Turn Dog Quick, are making about the community’s wartime evacuation to central Queensland.