ACU’s Dr Laura Rademaker awarded “best postgraduate thesis in Australian history”

Published: Monday 12th September 2016

Dr Laura Rademaker, Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry in the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, was this year awarded the 2016 Serle Award by The Australian Historical Association.

Dr Laura Rademaker, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry in the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, was recently awarded the 2016 Serle Award for her thesis, Language and the Mission: Talking and Translating on Groote Eylandt, 1943–1973.

Dr Rademaker’s thesis was an interdisciplinary work of history that made extensive use of oral history interviews with Aboriginal elders and missionaries as well as anthropological, musicological and linguistic data to tell a story of cross-cultural interactions and negotiations at Christian missions.

Dr Rademaker said, “I wanted to move beyond understanding Aboriginal people’s history in terms only of victimhood or resistance against colonization – showing ways that they have strategically navigated complex situations to pursue their interests.”

She is now building on this research, conducting a new project on Aboriginal engagements with Catholicism, working closely with communities on the Tiwi Islands.

The Serle Award is a prestigious prize awarded every two years by Australia’s peak body of historians, The Australian Historical Society. The Serle Award recognises the “best postgraduate thesis in Australia history”.

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