Rachel Standfield


Accepting PhD Students

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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.  


  • 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.

Projects 2016 2019

Research Output 2004 2018

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

Mobility, Reciprocal Relationships and Early British Encounters in the North of New Zealand

Standfield, R. V., 2018, Indigenous Mobilities: Across and Beyond the Antipodes. Standfield, R. (ed.). Acton ACT Australia: The Australian National University, p. 57-77 21 p.

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

Moving across, looking beyond

Standfield, R. V., 2018, Indigenous Mobilities: Across and Beyond the Antipodes. Standfield, R. (ed.). Acton ACT Australia: The Australian National University, p. 1-34 34 p.

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

Activities 2011 2019

8th SNAICC National Conference

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

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesContribution to conference

The La Trobe Journal (Journal)

Rachel Standfield (Guest editor), Shannon Faulkhead (Guest editor)
Mar 2019

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial responsibility

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

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

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

Press / Media

Take 5 With... Dr Rachel Standfield

Rachel Standfield


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Profile/Interview