Professor Penny Edmonds

Matthew Flinders Professor

College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

place Humanities
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Professor Penelope Edmonds is Matthew Flinders Professor, History, in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. Penny's research is distinguished by over two decades of creative and interdisciplinary work in the areas of Australian history,19th century British empire and setter colonialism in the Australian and Pacific region, postcolonial histories, heritage and museums. She seeks to bring a critical theory perspective to questions of colonialism, race, reconciliation and redress, humanitarianism, slavery and unfreedom in the Australian and Western Pacific region.


Penny was awarded a PhD in History from the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne, in 2006. She is a past editor of Australian Historical Studies.

Penny has significant experience in University governance and research leadership. She served as Dean of Research in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, 2020-2022 (three years) at Flinders University, where she led the strategic development of the college's research centre Assemblage Centre for Creative Arts. She served as a member of the Australian Research Council (ARC) College of Experts Humanities and Creative Arts panel (2013-2015), and the ARC Engagement and Impact panel for Humanities and Creative Arts (2018).

She has broad industry and professional experience in the field of history and the arts and cultural heritage sector, and has worked in museums both nationally and internationally, at the Australian Museum, Sydney, Museum Victoria, Melbourne, and as Andrew Mellon Fellow in Heritage, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C, 1991–1994. As a Trustee of the Board of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Penny was a member of the working group that wrote and delivered the landmark apology to Tasmanian Indigenous peoples on behalf of the organisation in February 2021. Acknowledging 200 years of colonisation and genocide, the apology was the first ever to given by a state or federal museum in Australia. See Apology TMAG

Honours, awards and grants

2018 Inaugural Theory Race and Colonialism Essay (TRACE) Award, Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society, for ‘Emancipation Acts on the Oceanic Frontier? Intimacy, Diplomacy, Colonial Invasion and the Legal Traces of Protection in the Bass Strait World, 1832’, Law and History (2017).

2017 Shortlisted Ernest Scott Prize, University of Melbourne /Australian Historical Association, Settler Colonialism and (Re)Conciliation: Frontier Violence, Affective Performances and Imaginative Refoundings, (Palgrave UK, 2016).

2014 Shortlisted for the Patricia Grimshaw Prize, Australian Historical Studies, for ‘Collecting Looerryminer’s ‘Testimony’: Aboriginal Women, Sealers, and Quaker Humanitarian Anti-Slavery Thought and Action in the Bass Strait Islands, Australian Historical Studies, 2014.

2014 ASSA Paul Bourke Award commendation, Australian Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, Award for Panel C (History, Philosophy, Law, and Political Science) for 'multi-disciplinary approach to settler colonialism' and 'theoretical depth and originality'.

2012 Mary Bennett Prize, Australian Women’s History Network for 'The Intimate, Urbanising Frontier: "Native Camps", Gender Relations and Settler-Colonialism's Violent Array of Spaces Around Early Melbourne',Making Settler Colonial Space: Perspectives on Race, Place and Identity (Palgrave, 2010).

2012-2017 ARC Future Fellowship FT110100572 ‘Reform in the Antipodes: Quaker Humanitarians, Imperial Journeys and Early Histories of Human Rights’.

2007-2010 ARC Postdoctorial Fellowship, University of Melbourne.

2010 Highly commended for ‘First History Book’, Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards (2010) for ‘Urbanizing Frontiers’ (Uni. British Columbia Press, 2010).

1991-1994 Andrew W. Mellon Advanced Fellowship in Heritage Conservation, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Teaching interests

Australian history and political culture; transnational, British imperial and settler colonial histories; Australia in the Pacific world; comparative postcolonial and Indigenous histories; critical race theory; reconciliation and redress; 19thc British humanitarianism and human rights; slavery and unfreedom in the Australian and the Western Pacific region; gender and history; gender and empire; heritage, museums and public history; visual culture; history and media; history and memory.

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HIST2066 Reworlding South Australian History
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