Dr Mary Tomsic

Photo of Dr Mary Tomsic

Areas of expertise: migration and refugee history; history and memory; public visual cultures; film; gender history; digital media; children and childhood; Australian history; children’s voices

HDR Supervisor accreditation status: Full

Email: mary.tomsic@acu.edu.au

Location: ACU Melbourne Campus

ORCID ID: 0000-0003-2451-9336

Dr Mary Tomsic is a cultural historian and a Research Fellow in the Centre for Refugees, Migration, and Humanitarian Studies. She is the author of Beyond the Silver Screen: A History of Women, Filmmaking and Film Culture in Australia 1920-1990 (Melbourne University Press, 2017). Her scholarly research has published in edited collections, including, Gender & Violence in Australia: Historical Perspectives (Monash University Press, 2019), Visualising Human Rights (UWA Publishing, 2018) and Children’s Voices in the Past: New Historical Perspectives (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019); and in journals including History Australia, The History of the Family, Australian Journal of Politics and History and History Education Review.

Her current research project is on visual representations of child refugees and examines how histories of forced migration are presented through visual records created for, by and about children. Mary’s research and scholarship are strongly connected to community-based activities through collaborating with community arts publisher, Kids’ Own Publishing. Shared activities include researching books published by children, developing teaching materials to support the use of children’s stories to teach migration history, and working with young people with a refugee background to create digital stories. She has also worked on primary school-based history projects and collaboratively hosted Wikipedia edit-a-thons.

Select publications

  • Damousi, J., Silverstein, J. & Tomsic, M. (2020). ‘“Never forget that this happened”: Remembering and Forgetting Violence’ in Louise Edwards, Nigel Penn and Jay Winter (eds), The Cambridge World History of Violence Volume 4, 1800 to the Present. Cambridge University Press.
  • Tomsic, M. (2019). ‘“I feel I am at the stage now of really learning something”: Esma Banner post-WWII migration worker and photographer’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, Special Issue Refugees: Past and Present 65, 4, 516-531.
  • Tomsic, M. & Deery, C. (2019). ‘Creating “them” and “us”: The educational framing of picture books to teach about forced displacement and today’s “refugee crisis”’, History Education Review 48, 1, 46-60.
  • Tomsic, M. (2019). ‘Feminist films on women’s experiences of violence’ in Alana Piper and Ana Stevenson (eds) Gender & Violence in Australia: Historical Perspectives. Monash University Press, 192-205.
  • Tomsic, M. (2019). ‘Children’s art: histories and cultural meanings of creative expression by displaced children’ in Kristine Moruzi, Nell Musgrove and Cara Pascoe Leahy (eds) Children’s Voices in the Past: New Historical Perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan, 137-158.
  • Tomsic, M. (2018). ‘The politics of picture books: Stories of displaced children in 21st century Australia’ History Australia 15, 2, 339-356.
  • Tomsic, M. (2018). ‘Sharing a personal past: #iwasarefugee #iamarefugee on Instagram’ in Jane Lydon (ed.) Visualising Human Rights. UWA Publishing, 63-84.
  • Tomsic, M. (2017). Beyond the Silver Screen, A History of Women, Filmmaking and Film Culture in Australia 1920–1990. Melbourne University Press.
  • Tomsic, M. (2017). “‘Happiness again”: photographing and narrating the arrival of Hungarian child refugees and their families 1956–1957’, The History of the Family 22, 4, 485-509.


  • Picturing Refugee Children
    Picturing Refugee Children examines past and present case studies of visual representations of, for and by displaced children in Australia. It focuses on cultural sources, including photographs, picture books, art and drawings, to examine how children and adults who have experienced forced displacement are positioned in the visual landscape of Australian refugee history from 1975 to the present.
  • Children's Voices in their Own Books
    This project involves collating a bibliographic dataset of books published by Kids’ Own Publishing and written by children. Digital and classifying material has been gathered from online sources, and a workflow developed for checking and analysis data. Omeka will be used to develop a web-based exhibition showcasing books by children from a range of cultural and linguistic communities and published in multiple languages. https://booksbychildren.omeka.net

Public engagement


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