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Personal profile


Dr Chris Urwin is a postdoctoral fellow at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution, USA) and an affiliate of Monash Indigenous Studies Centre. His current research examines narratives of Indigenous voyaging and American collecting through the social histories of Pacific canoes acquired by the Smithsonian Institution. 

Chris is an archaeologist by training and has worked in partnership with Indigenous communities to investigate their remarkable landscapes in Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG). He completed his PhD at Monash University in 2019, for which he worked with two villages in Orokolo Bay (PNG) to establish radiocarbon chronologies for their ancestral sites, alongside a programme to document local oral traditions. This research has helped improve our understanding of the history of exchange and social change on PNG's south coast. 

Chris was previously a Senior Curator in the First Peoples Department at Museums Victoria, where he sought to enhance community access and research into the archaeology collection. Chris enjoys communicating archaeology and anthropology for a popular audience: from 2017-2019 he was social media officer for the Australian Archaeological Association. Online magazine articles stemming from Chris' research can be found here: 

Research interests

Chris' research interests include: how Indigenous communities understand colonial-era collecting practices; how people build places through time and remember this process; and the application of Bayesian chronological models in archaeology. He has obtained research funding from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), the Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE), the Australian Archaeological Association and the Smithsonian Institution. 

External positions

Peter Buck Postdoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Institution

14 Jan 202113 Jan 2022

Research Associate, Museums Board of Victoria (trading as Museum of Victoria) (Victoria)

18 Feb 2020 → …

Research area keywords

  • Memory studies
  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Radiocarbon dating


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