Current research activities focus on colonial expansion, imperialism, the effects of war and the impacts on core and peripheral countries. This includes richly diverse research on topics ranging from Australia as a colonial settler society, and the history of the Indian bourgeoisie, to British imperialism in Cyprus and British women missionaries.


Academic researchers

  Research students

  • Bronte Gould
  • Storm Graham
  • Charissa Kurda
  • Heidi Ing
  • Kim Littler
  • Christel Mex
  • Paul MorissetKieran Mortiner-Murphy
  • Petra Mosmann
  • Anthony Nugent


  • Brodie Nugent
  • Casey Raeside
  • Brendan Scott
  • Anita Stelmach
  • Ella Stewart-Peters
  • Ellen Whitton
  • Jessica Zotti 

Researchers with academic status

Current research projects

Matthew Fitzpatrick: German Imperialism and Colonialism

Continuing lines of research first established in my early work on German liberal imperialism, I am currently working on German imperialism. More specifically, this project has moved in the direction of studying German imperial attitudes in the Pacific, with particular reference to race and gender, in order to compare and contrast them with imperial attitudes towards Africa.  This project also looks at the transmission of colonial vales between the imperial metropole and the various nodes of empire.

Matthew Fitzpatrick: Aspects of German Constitutional History: The Kaiser

Pursuing lines of inquiry opened up by my work on mass expulsions in Imperial Germany, I am currently researching material for a monograph on the role of Kaiser Wilhelm II in German foreign policy. Beginning from a scrutiny of the constitutional powers ascribed to the Kaiser, this work then scrutinises the empirical record to ascertain exactly what role he played in German foreign policy up until the outbreak of World War One. 

Matthew Fitzpatrick: Ideologies of Empire

Shifting from my work on Roman theories of empire towards a world historical approach, this project compares and contrasts imperial ideologies of rule across time and space to ascertain the varying means of structuring and justifying imperial rule. Particularly concerned with empires espousing universally valid principles of rule, this project examines the intellectual basis upon which these claims to universal validity are made.

Peter Monteath: A Biography of Frederick Rose

Together with Valerie Munt, Peter Monteath is writing a biography of the anthropologist Frederick Rose. Rose’s life was shaped firmly by the political climate of the Cold War, during which time he was both spied upon by ASIO and recruited as a spy by the Ministry for Security in the GDR. Rose’s anthropological work remains an important but largely ignored contribution to an understanding of Aboriginal Australia.

Peter Monteath: Prisoners of War

Peter Monteath is engaged in an ongoing project relating to prisoners of war and internment in Australian history. One point of the focus in the experience of Australian POWs in European captivity in World War II. The other major field of interest is the internment in Australia of German civilians in the First World War. The latter project in collaboration with the Migration Museum involved the staging of an exhibition at the museum from October 2014, and the publication of a book with Mandy Paul, Interned: Torrens Island, 1914-1915, Adelaide Wakefield Press 2014.

Melanie Oppenheimer: "A Land Fit for Heroes": A social, cultural and environmental history of soldier settlement in New South Wales, 1916-1939 LP0883705

Professor Melanie Oppenheimer is a Chief Investigator on this ARC funded Linkage project with colleague Professor Bruce Scates from Monash University, in partnership with State Records NSW and the Department of Veterans' Affairs. Using recently released Department of Lands loan files and repatriation records, the project examines the fate of those returned servicemen and women who took up land under the soldier settlement scheme in NSW in the aftermath of World War I. As part of the project, the website was established. A monograph The Last Battle will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2016.

Evan Smith: Communism and Anti-Colonialism in the British Commonwealth

This project will compare how anti-colonial politics were embraced by the Communist Parties in Britain, Australia and South Africa during the interwar period and post-war period. Inspired by the October Revolution and the anti-colonial programme of the Communist International (Comintern), Communist Parties worldwide believed that the proletarian revolution in the global West was tied to the anti-colonial struggle. As Britain was the largest imperial power at the time, Communist Parties within the British Commonwealth (under this title from 1931 onwards) were seen as vitally important in promoting socialist revolution and engaging in anti-colonial work. The Communist Party of Great Britain, at the centre of the imperial metropole, was entrusted with special responsibilities by the Comintern to disseminate anti­-colonial propaganda and provide assistance to anti-colonial activists throughout the Commonwealth. Communist Parties in the settler colonies, such as South Africa and Australia, were also obliged by Moscow to participate in anti-colonial activities. This project will explore how the internationalist network established by the Comintern, flowing from Moscow, competed with the network between the CPGB, the Communist Party of South Africa and the Communist Party of Australia, based on the pre-existing colonial network of the British Commonwealth.

Andrekos Varnava: European Subalterns at War: The Cypriot Mule Corps in the British Army and Colonial Society during and after the Great War

Dr Andrekos Varnava is working on a monograph on the Cypriot Mule Corps, formed in 1916 and disbanded in 1920, with the working title: ‘European Subalterns at War: The Cypriot Mule Corps in the British Army and Colonial Society during and after the Great War’. Over 20% of the male population of the island, both Christian and Muslim Cypriots, primarily drawn from the lower classes, served in the Cypriot Mule Corps, a staggering number and the highest of any British overseas possession. The monograph deals with why the corps was established and its successes and failures and in particular the lives of the men, their families and on the British colonial government and bureaucracy in the island, both during the life of the Cypriot Mule Corps and after it. It therefore grapples with issues ranging from running allotment schemes, to criminality in the Cypriot Mule Corps, to veterans issues.

Andrekos Varnava: The Armenian Legion and the Failure of French Imperialism in the Former Ottoman Empire, 1916-1920

An account of the founding and operations of the Legion d'Orient (later Armenian Legion) formed in 1916 and disbanded in 1920 provides new insights into understanding the Armenian Genocide, Armenian aims for a safe and secure homeland, and the role of the British and French in trying to achieve this within their own imperial ambitions. The eventual French (and British) failure to achieve their promises to the Armenians when the Legion d'Orient was formed, forms the cornerstone of this project.

Completed projects

Melanie Oppenheimer: The Power of Humanity: 100 Years of Australian Red Cross

Professor Melanie Oppenheimer has been researching and writing on aspects of Australian Red Cross history for over twenty years. Her latest research concerns a commissioned history of Australian Red Cross to commemorate its centenary. Australian Red Cross was formed as a branch of the British Red Cross Society on 13 August 1914 on the outbreak of World War I. The book examines the sweeping history of arguably one of the most important voluntary organisations in Australian history, and was published by Harper Collins in August 2014.