Historical Studies encompasses the study of humanity including human interactions throughout historical time. History at UNSW is distinctive because of its focus on imperial, colonial and transnational histories that rethink the grand narratives of the past. Historians adapt a non-Eurocentric approach and include multi-vocal perspectives in their interpretations that are based on empirical research that include archive-based, multi-lingual sources, as well as oral history and non-textual or visual material. Original research is usually published in the form of a major book-length study that makes a major contribution to the scholarship on the topic. Historians at UNSW have all published major books in their area of expertise.

Research Focus

The majority of historians at UNSW HAL focus on modern history working in several geographical areas such as Asia (India, Japan, Korea, Philippines, China), Europe (Germany, France, Poland, Britain, Greece, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Belgium), Australia, the Americas (especially Argentina and the US empire) including the study of empires in world history (French, American and British empires). Research areas also tackle important themes such as gender, war, violence, the family, ethnicities, World War II internment camps, religion, migration, displaced peoples, empires, cross-cultural contact, tourism, legal history, social history, cultural history, environmental history and history of science (especially obesity in the United States).

Historians contribute to several UNSW research initiatives such as the Grand Challenge on Refugees and Migration conducting research on migrants in Australia (especially Greeks, Indian, Filipino), as well as the history of displaced peoples in World War II, and a history of Filipino migration. Historians are members of the FASS Forced Migration Network. Research on disadvantaged communities is reflected in research on the homeless in Australia, and Jewish history especially the Holocaust.

A vibrant research environment is showcased by two events run each year by the Research Cluster on Imperial, Colonial and Transnational histories graced by distinguished speakers from Europe and North America.

Staff Strengths & Accomplishments

History at UNSW is especially strong in modern history, particularly in the geographical areas of Australian, European and Asian histories. In the Excellence for Research in Australia report in 2018-2019, we received a rating of 5 for History, well above the world standard. UNSW Historians publish in the very best international presses and have won a number of national and international book awards, and major competitive grants including the Australian Research Council Discovery Grants. Distinguished scholars have taken up international fellowships that include Harvard University, Oxford University, Cambridge University, Lyon, Paris, among others, and regularly receive invitations to give keynote addresses at international conferences. The historians are prolific publishers with major monographs appearing regularly each year. Several historians are also editors of high-ranking journals (for example South Asia) and contribute to public history through their involvement in producing documentaries and museum exhibits (most recently, the exhibit on the history of the Red Cross in Australia).

Research Networks & Initiatives

Organisational units