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Opening Australia’s Multilingual Archive

Join leading researchers to rethink Australia in many languages
An exciting opportunity exists for a commencing PhD student to join an ARC-funded project to break down the Anglocentrism that underlies historical research on Australia, mobilising under-utilised non-English resources to shine new light on history.

The Multilingual Australia research team is looking for a PhD scholar with a background in history, cultural studies and literary studies to undertake research in one or more migrant languages other than English. The project follows the highest Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project funding awarded to the University in its 2021 round.

Accounts of key events in Australian history have typically been based on English language sources, but a wealth of settler and migrant materials is available in languages other than English on such events. Using this ‘multilingual archive’, the project aims to re-examine six significant events in the development of national consciousness. By identifying and analysing relevant materials, it seeks to demonstrate how users of languages other than English participate in Australian society.

The innovative project combines the study of languages with the study of Australian history, thus creating new knowledge on key events and how people imagine themselves as being – or not being – Australian. The creation of the archive and framework for analysis will benefit researchers and enhance the capacity of historians and libraries, and open up new perspectives on Australian history.

The project uses archival and library sources in non-Indigenous languages other than English to re-examine six key topics in Australian history:

  • The 19th-century creation of Australian settlement
  • Australia’s attempts to define its national boundaries
  • 1914–1918: World War I
  • 1931–1946: World War II and its aftermath
  • Decolonisation and the Cold War
  • The end of the Cold War

By broadening Australia's understanding of the social, cultural and intellectual history of nation-building, the intended outcome is to create a new inclusiveness in identifying with Australia.

We will:

  • Challenge and enrich ‘mainstream’ narratives of Australian history by generating new perspectives drawn from non-English sources in Australia’s multilingual archives
  • Develop the concept of 'language community' as a new framework for understanding historical and contemporary cultural diversity in Australia
  • Redefine the way multilingual archival sources are used in Australia, particularly in terms of how users of (non-Indigenous) languages other than English experience affective relationships in a predominantly Anglophone society
  • Examine how issues of mobility, inclusion and attachment in or to Australia have been conveyed in the multilingual archive
  • Identify commonalities across views expressed in the multilingual archive about Australia or being Australian, and contrast them with perceptions of what it means to ‘belong’ in places other than Australia.

The successful PhD scholar will be trained by a leading multidisciplinary team in range of research methods, and gain experience in working in archives and libraries. The project engages an international network of researchers and provides an exciting academic environment.

Applicants are invited to submit a proposal for PhD research that aligns directly to this project.

Prospective candidates may qualify for direct entry into the PhD program if their research proposal (see above) is accepted and they satisfy at least one of the criteria listed below.

  • Bachelor's degree with first- or second-class honours in an appropriate area of study that includes a research thesis based on primary data not literature review
  • Master's degree by research in an appropriate area of study that includes a research thesis that draws on primary data
  • Master's degree by coursework, with a research thesis or dissertation of 12,000–15,000 words that draws on primary data not literature review, with a grade-point average of at least 80 per cent in the degree
  • Demonstrated appropriate professional experience and alternative qualifications in the field of study.

For more information regarding applying for a PhD, refer to the course details for Doctor of Philosophy (Arts and Social Sciences).

Please also refer to guidelines for preparing a research proposal.

A number of scholarships are available to support your studies:

These scholarships will provide a stipend allowance of $35,629 per annum for up to 3.5 years. Successful international students will also receive a tuition fee scholarship for up to 3.5 years.

For other scholarship opportunities, refer to our Faculty Research Scholarships (Domestic) or Faculty Research Scholarships (International).

For more information, contact Professor Adrian Vickers:

This project is made possible by an ARC Discovery Project grant (project number DP210101981).

Banner image by Ula Kuźma on Unsplash.