Out there, back then.


This project, originally completed as part of a PhD in anthropology and since built upon, examines the ways in which different groups of people narrate time, place, and belonging in Outback Australia. In particular, it engages with questions of how people perceive and express histories and environments in Outback Australia, how these perceptions and narratives are used in negotiations of emplaced belonging, and how such negotiations are mediated across gender, race, and class. This research pays particular attention to the trope of ‘the frontier’ and modernist ideals of closer settlement in Outback Australia and its material, affective, and narrative legacy. This includes histories of frontier conflicts and ongoing contestation over land and resources. Research is conducted using ethnographic methods of participant observation, narrative analysis, and archival research.

Phase one of this research, conducted during my PhD, focused ethnographic attention on pastoral stations, outback towns, and a polyethnic town camp.

Phase two, currently underway, involves working more closely with the Mitakoodi Traditional Owners and also engaging with histories of abandoned mining towns.

I am currently developing a book manuscript based on this research.

Praise for this research

“Her research on this lived suspended colonial frontier has far-reaching implications for many other colonial imaginaries globally and advances both the theory and the research in decolonizing thought. Her careful and creative attention to the charged and elaborate process of composing identity out of what is already decomposed and always still exceeding both the power of story and the boundary of place is a unique and strong contribution to studies of place, nationalism, colonialism, race, cultural identity and new materialism” – Kathleen Stewart, Professor, University of Texas.

“This thesis is an outstanding piece or original research that offers a fascinating analysis of an important topic. It is well-researched, cogently argued, and compellingly written. It draws out the complexity of questions of identity and place in a new and interesting way, helping us to appreciate the complex layers of meaning, history, politics, and more, that inform our sense of who we are and how we fit, or don’t, in the places we call home” – Thom Van Doreen, Associate Professor, University of Sydney & Professor II, Oslo School of Environmental Humanities, University of Oslo.

Abstract for doctoral dissertation

Current participant information sheet