1997 …2024

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Personal profile


An obsession with history

Professor Lynette Russell (Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor and Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow) is focussed on developing an anthropological approach to the story of the past. While her historical interests are far ranging - across the 16th to the 20th centuries, from Aboriginal people in the maritime industry, the Gunditjmara and Wurundjeri people of Victoria to the last 1000 years of encounter history. She is currently examining Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese and Makassan encounters and contacts. 

One thing Lynette enjoys most about her position is her engagement with other disciplines - she has co-authored with Monash archaeologist Professor Ian J McNiven - and she is eager to help facilitate interdisciplinary opportunities for her graduate students as well.

'As a historian, and anthropological historian, I like working with the archaeologists. I think it's great for students to be able to bounce ideas off two different schools of thought. That works really well for me.'

She also takes her engagement with other communities and cultures very seriously.

'One of those things in the area we work in is that you have to remind yourself that it's an absolute privilege to work on, and with, indigenous groups and artefacts. It's really important that you actually take it with a high standard of personal ethics. That includes engaging with the communities that are appropriate, talking to the appropriate people - just being a decent human being.'

Lynette is a strong believer in the importance of Indigenous studies as part of the curriculum.

'I'm very keen to see as many students as possible undertake Aboriginal studies units. Frankly, I think such subjects should be essential for every undergraduate, particularly arts graduates. People need to understand what it means to be living in a continent that had over 600 different tribal groups and 250 different languages.'

One of her most challenging projects has been attempting to learn one of those languages herself.

'It's important to me, but frankly, it's really, really hard to learn an Aboriginal language. My tongue does not seem to want to do what I want it to do. It dances in the wrong places, and it trips. So I would love to learn an Aboriginal language, but I think I'm going to have to content myself with maybe two sentences.'

Lynette held an Australian Research Council Professorial fellowship between 2011-2016. She is an ARC Laureate Professor (2020-2025).

Monash teaching commitment

I teach on the following unit:


Supervision interests

Postgraduate supervision

I am very serious about the importance of supervision and the postgraduate research process. I currently supervise a number of PhD and masters students in a range of areas. These include: Indigenous knowledge systems, Aboriginal History, Torres Strait islands settlement history, Australian archaeology and ethics of research and Indigenous education.

As a guiding principal I believe that it is a privilege to be allowed to work with ATSI people and materials. It is for that reason that I believe it is important to disseminate information in both the popular and academic arenas. I am also committed to the production of non-jargon research reports for Aboriginal communities.


Current Research Interests and Areas of Supervision

  • Nineteenth Century ‘race’ relations in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Historical Anthropology.
  • Appropriation and identity.
  • Comparative epistemologies, and cultural constructions of knowledge and knowledge production.
  • Gender and the relationship between gender and ‘race’.
  • Interdisciplinary Research, especially the nexus between anthropology, archaeology and history.
  • Partnership Approaches to research.
  • Indigenous Oral History and narrative construction.
  • Museums, material culture, museum collections and exhibitions.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Research area keywords

  • Indigenous
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • Colonial
  • Agency and Subjectivity
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Race Relations
  • Material Culture
  • Gender and Race Relations
  • Epistemology
  • Cultural Knowledge
  • Indigenous Mobility
  • Australian Race Relations and Cultural History
  • Landscape
  • Reconciliation
  • Hyrbid Identities
  • Aboriginality
  • Cultural Archaeology

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or