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The Australian National University

Dr Malcolm Allbrook

BA Hons (1977) University of Western Australia PhD (2008) Griffith University
Managing Editor, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, School of History, Research School of Social Sciences.
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: 02 6125 4455

Research interests

Malcolm Allbrook’s research interests include:

Australian history

Colonial and transnational histories in the Indian Ocean region, the formal and informal networks connecting individuals and families around the oceanic sphere, and the diverse contexts in which they functioned and were sustained;

Indigenous histories, including collaborative ways to research and present community histories using voice, sound, photographic and filmic imagery.

Biography and life writing, particularly of those less visible in national and landscape narratives, and the use of the range of documentary source materials, including letters and journals, paintings and photographs, and oral histories.

Landscape history and the deep past, particularly issues connected with biography and life writing of ancient lives.


Malcolm Allbrook is Managing Editor with the Australian Dictionary of Biography and a Research Fellow in the National Centre of Biography. He joined the NCB in 2014 after working as a Research Associate in the School of History at the ANU between 2011 and 2014. His first degree was in Classics and Ancient History, followed by employment in the public sector in Western Australia and then senior research and management positions with Aboriginal organizations, firstly the Kimberley Land Council in Derby (1993 – 1998) and then the Yamatji Marlpa Land and Sea Council, the native title representative body for the Murchison, Gascoyne and Pilbara regions.

He completed a PhD at Griffith University in 2009 with a thesis ‘Imperial Family: the Prinseps, Empire and Colonial Government in India and Australia’ which was published as Henry Prinsep's Empire: Framing a Distant Colony by ANU Press in 2014. Before joining the ANU, he worked as a historian and exhibition curator, chiefly with Aboriginal organizations throughout Western Australia. In 2013, with the Kimberley Aboriginal elder John Darraga Watson, he published Never Stand Still: Life, land and politics in the Kimberley. He was part of a team that curated ‘Burlganya Wanggaya’, an exhibition of Aboriginal history and culture in Carnarvon, Western Australia, which was awarded the MAGNA award for best permanent exhibition in 2012.

Researcher's projects

Malcolm Allbrook is currently engaged on a number of research and writing projects:

-          He is part of a multi-disciplinary team preparing a history of the north Kimberley coast on behalf of the Dambinmanguri Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the Worrorra native title holders. Focussing on family histories and the history of contact with European colonisers, the project will result in a book to be published in 2015.

-          He is currently engaged by the City of Perth to research and write a book on childhood in colonial Perth, through the journals, letters and photographs of Carlotta Brockman (nee Prinsep, 1869 - 1960) and her father Henry Charles Prinsep (1844 – 1922.

-          He is collaborating in the Lake Mungo history project, focusing on biography and life stories. This project takes a longue duree approach to Australian history by focussing on one place, the world heritage listed Lake Mungo in the Willandra Lakes region of NSW.

-          With historian Mary Anne Jebb, a research fellow at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies, he is engaged by the Wangka Maya Pilbara Language Centre in Port Hedland on the ‘Hidden Histories of the Pilbara’ project to record oral histories and research archival sources of Pilbara Aboriginal people. This project will result in an exhibition to be shown at Port Hedland, the Western Australian Transport Museum in Perth and AIATSIS.

-          He is soon to commence a collaborative life writing project with a prominent Aboriginal footballer and community identity, who played over 200 games for East Perth and Carlton during the 1960s and 1970s, one of the first of many Aboriginal footballers who have made their names in the Australian game.


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Updated:  19 June 2018 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers