Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences


New Appointments

Three significant appointments in history join the expanding Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences under the Directorship of Professor Joy Damousi.

Professor Kate Fullagar is an historian of the eighteenth-century world and the British Empire and with a particular interest in the many Indigenous societies it encountered. Her interest in comparative indigenous history focuses on the eastern Pacific (Polynesia), the American southeast (esp. Cherokees), and the Eora of today's Australia. Professor Fullagar has held visiting fellowships at the University of York, Duke University, Yale, and Princeton. Her second monograph The Warrior, the Voyager, and the Artist with Yale University Press was published in 2020.

Professor Iain McCalman AO, FAHA, FASSA, FRHist, FRSN is a renowned historian of eighteenth-century, early-nineteenth British and European history and Australian environmental humanities. He has been a Visiting Research Fellow at All Souls, Oxford, Mellon Visiting Professor at Californian University of Technology, Pasadena, and is the author of numerous articles and books on Modern British, European and Imperial cultural history, most recently The Reef: A Passionate History (Penguin: 2013). Professor McCalman is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, the Australian Academy of the Humanities, the Royal Society of New South Wales, and the Royal Historical Society of Great Britain.

Professor Amanda Nettelbeck FAHA specialises in the history of indigenous/settler colonial relations, the relationship of indigenous people to colonial law, and the legacies of colonialism in social memory. She was the Keith Cameron Chair in Australian History at University College Dublin and is the author of numerous articles and books on nineteenth-century race relations and governance, most recently Indigenous Rights and Colonial Subjecthood: Protection and Reform in the 19th Century British Empire (Cambridge University Press: 2019). Professor Nettelbeck is Vice-President of the Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society, a member of the Executive Committee of the International Australian Studies Association and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

All three join ACU in mid 2020, adding significant expertise to the expanding international profile of the Institute.

Appointment of Deputy Director

Michael Ondaatje

Professor Michael Ondaatje

Professor Michael Ondaatje has been appointed as the Deputy Director of ACU’s Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, marking an important strategic stride forward for the continued development of our research profile in the liberal arts, an area fundamental to the future of the University and our identity as a Catholic institution.

Since arriving at ACU in late 2014, Professor Ondaatje has led important strategic change in the School of Arts, and, since 2019, has fostered a defined academic culture and character throughout the University as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Arts and Academic Culture). As Deputy Director of ACU’s Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Ondaatje will work with the new Director of the Institute, Professor Joy Damousi, to ensure that ACU becomes a global leader in humanities and social sciences.

With ACU now assessed by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings as among the top 250 universities in the world in the Arts and Humanities, the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences is expected to make a major contribution in building international recognition for our expertise in defined areas of the liberal arts.

Professor Ondaatje’s appointment comes as the Institute enters into a significant growth phase, building capacity for research in history, politics, literature, and sociology of the highest quality. 

The Deputy Vice Chancellor Research is delighted to welcome Professor Ondaatje into the role at this critical juncture.

Professor Ondaatje will relinquish his current positions and as a result the Acting Provost, Professor Zlatko Skrbis, will initiate the recruitment of a new Head of the School of Arts. Professor Skrbis congratulates Professor Ondaatje on this appointment and expressed warm thanks for Michael’s contributions at ACU to the development of the BA in Western Civilisation (funded by the Ramsay Centre), as PVC Arts and Academic Culture, and as Head of the School of Arts.

Professor Ondaatje takes up his new position on 11 May 2020.

Appointment of Director

Joy Damousi

Professor Joy Damousi FASSA FAHA

One of the country’s most distinguished historians and public intellectuals, and a leader in the humanities in Australia and internationally, Professor Joy Damousi is President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, a Fellow of both the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, President of the Australian Historical Association, and has previously served as the chair of humanities and creative arts panels for Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) and the Australian Research Council (ARC) College of Experts.

Professor Damousi is an award-winning scholar of memory and war, the history of emotions, and migration history in relation to refugees, humanitarianism and internationalism. Her research has attracted more than $5 million in competitive ARC funding. In 2014 she received a prestigious ARC Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship to study the history of child refugees in Australia and Australia’s international role in refugee and migration issues throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries.

Professor Damousi brings extensive research leadership, scholarly excellence, and public engagement to the role of Director of ACU’s new Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences.

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