Rachel Standfield


Accepting PhD Students


Research output per year

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Personal profile


Rachel is a historian of Indigenous societies and race relations histories in Australia and New Zealand. Her work explores cross cultural encounters and the agency of Indigenous peoples as they encountered Europeans on their country, as well as exploring the ways those encounters are encoded in colonial sources and national histories.

In addition to her academic work, Rachel has experience as a researcher and policy officer, particularly in the field of public policy and Indigenous rights, where she was employed in the area of human rights and international activism at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, in the Commonwealth public service and with the National Union of Students, as well as working as part of teaching and learning projects in university contexts.

Research interests

Comparative and connected Indigenous histories, histories of racial thought, Aboriginal and Australian histories, Maori and New Zealand histories

Research interests

I am a historian of colonialism and the experiences of Indigenous peoples in Australia and New Zealand. My work investigates ideas about race and how they were applied to diverse communities, the impact of protection policies and humanitarianism, histories of human and Indigenous rights, and the response and agency of Indigenous communities to the presence of colonists on their country.

My specific research strengths are:

1)      working with archival material to unlock and interpret material written by non-Indigenous authors for evidence of Indigenous perspectives and practices.

2)      comparative historical research into colonialism and racial thought that remains sensitive to the unique cultures and experiences of diverse Indigenous communities.

3)      understanding the impact that studying Indigenous Studies has on students and their views about Australian society.

I have worked with community members, in collaborative teams with Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics, and across disciplines to explore issues of importance to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous societies, including Indigenous leadership, experiences of mobility and health. Prior to my academic work, I worked in policy positions in the Commonwealth government, the National Union of Students and universities, and thus my scholarship brings an emphasis on the connection between research and policy or other practical outcomes. Through a collaborative and inter-disciplinary approach, my research aims to provide insight into how historical experience resonates into contemporary societies. A committed and engaged teacher, I am interested in exploring the impact of studying and learning on student understandings of their society and student commitment to social justice. More specifically my research expertise can deliver

1)      advice for State and Commonwealth Governments on Indigenous policy and the connection between historical policies and contemporary social outcomes.

2)      assistance for Indigenous communities or organisations on accessing and working with archival data.

3)      advice to primary and secondary educators and/or education departments or institutions on teaching on social justice and Indigenous issues to non-Indigenous students.

Supervision interests

I am interested in supervising students in Australian, New Zealand and Pacific colonial histories and histories of Indigenous Australian, Maori and Pacific peoples. I am also interested in supervising histories of racialisation and racial thought, histories of mobilities, particularly Indigenous mobilities, and histories of humanitarianism and Protection.  

Research area keywords

  • Aboriginal history
  • Australian History
  • Maori history
  • New Zealand history
  • Race relations
  • Racial thought

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.


Research Output

Indigenous Activism for Human Rights: A Case Study from Australia

Standfield, R. & Russell, L., 2020, The Routledge History of Human Rights. Quataert, J. & Wildenthal, L. (eds.). 1st ed. Abingdon Oxon UK: Routledge, p. 432-447 16 p. (Routledge Histories).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

Colonial Violence, Humanitarianism and the Colonial Present

Standfield, R., 2019, In : Law and History . 6, 1, p. 175-191 17 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

New Histories but Old Patterns: Kāi Tahu in Australia

Standfield, R. & Stevens, M., 2019, Labour Lines and Colonial Power: Indigenous and Pacific Islander Labour Mobility in Australia. Stead, V. & Altman, J. (eds.). Acton ACT Australia: Aboriginal History Incorporated, p. 103-131 29 p. (Aboriginal History Monographs).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

Archives of protection: Language, dispossession, and resistance in 1840s port Phillip District and New Zealand

Standfield, R. V., 24 Jan 2018, In : Pacific Historical Review. 87, 1, p. 54-78 25 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

Challenging the colonisation of birth: Koori women's birthing knowledge and practice

Adams, K., Faulkhead, S., Standfield, R. V. & Atkinson, P. R. L. A., Apr 2018, In : Women and Birth. 31, 2, p. 81-88 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Southern Circulations

Rachel Standfield (Invited speaker)
17 Dec 201918 Dec 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesContribution to conference

8th SNAICC National Conference

Rachel Standfield (Speaker), Philip Mendes (Speaker), Jacinta Walsh (Speaker), Emily Armstrong (Speaker)
3 Sep 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesContribution to conference

Monash Meets Malthouse panel to discuss "Underground Railway Game"

Stacy Holman Jones (Host), Rachel Standfield (Contributor), Maryrose Casey (Contributor), Fleur Susannah Kilpatrick (Contributor)
16 Feb 2019

Activity: Community Talks, Presentations, Exhibitions and EventsPublic event

Collaborative research with Ngai Tahu community, through Te Rununga o Ngai Tahu

Rachel Standfield (Director), Michael Stevens (Director)
2018 → …

Activity: Community Talks, Presentations, Exhibitions and EventsCollaboration on community projects

Conference of the Australian-Historical-Association 2018

Rachel Standfield (Speaker)
2 Jul 20186 Jul 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesContribution to workshop, seminar, course

Press / Media

Take 5 With... Dr Rachel Standfield

Rachel Standfield


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Profile/Interview