Professor Penny Edmonds

Dean (Research) and Matthew Flinders Fellow

College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

place Humanities
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Professor Penelope Edmonds is a Matthew Flinders Professor and Dean of Research in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. A former Australian Research Council Future Fellow, Penny's research is distinguished by over two decades of creative and interdisciplinary work in the areas of empire and setter colonialism in the Australian and Pacifc region, with a critical theory perspective on race, gender, law, humanitarianism and heritage. She has qualifications in history and heritage studies, including a PhD in History from the University of Melbourne.


Penny has has significant experience in University governance and research leadership. She has served on the Australian Research Council (ARC) College of Experts Humanities and Creative Arts panel (2013-2015), and on the ARC Engagement and Impact panel for Humanities and Creative Arts (2018). She was co-editor of Australian Historical Studies journal (2015–2018), Australia’s oldest and most highly regarded academic journal of Australian history.

Penny 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. She was Senior Heritage Conservator, and later Curator, at Museum Victoria 1994–2003, and prior to this an Andrew Mellon Fellow in Advanced Heritage, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C, 1991–1994. She is an honorary member of Museum Victoria, and an Affiliate of Purai Global Indigenous History Centre, University of Newcastle.

As a member of the Board of Trustees, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Penny was a key 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 museum in Australia. See Apology TMAG

Honours, awards and grants

Penny's 2016 monograph Settler Colonialism and (Re)conciliation Frontier Violence, Affective Performances, and Imaginative Refoundings examines the performative life of reconciliation and its discontents in settler societies Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand and the United States, and was shortlisted for the University of Melbourne’s 2017 Ernest Scott Prize for best book in Australian and New Zealand colonial history.

Penny was awarded the 2018 Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society inaugural ‘Theory, Race and Colonialism Essay’ (TRACE) award for best article. In 2017 she delivered the esteemed Trevor Reese Memorial Lecture in Australian History at the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, Kings College, London, titled ‘Heart, Power, Treaty, Truth: Affective, Political Performances in (post) Reconciliation Australia’.

Penny has published in journals including Postcolonial Studies, Commonwealth and Imperial History, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, Law and History, Australian Historical Studies, Journal of Australian Studies, Australian Feminist Law Journal, Australian Humanities Review, and The Conversation.

Key responsibilities

As Dean (Research) and a member of the College's leadership team Penny provides strategic leadership to advance the pursuit of high quality, vibrant, and creative academic research activity within the College and more broadly within the University.

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History - Australian
History - British
Australin colonial history, empire, humanitarianism, gender
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Media expertise
  • History - Australian
  • History - British
  • Australin colonial history, empire, humanitarianism, gender
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