Dr Karen Fox

BA (Hons), MA (Canterbury); PhD (ANU)
Research Fellow, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, School of History, RSSS
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander History 210301
  • Australian History (Excl. Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander History) 210303
  • Biography 210304
  • Maori History 210309
  • New Zealand History 210311
  • Culture, Gender, Sexuality 200205

Research interests

Karen's research and supervision interests include

  • famous lives, reputations and biographies; 
  • media and cultural history, especially about representations of gender and race; 
  • women’s, gender and feminist history;
  • comparative and trans-national history of settler societies, particularly Australia and New Zealand; 
  • political and legal history, particularly relating to issues of gender and race; 
  • cross-cultural encounters, colonialism and imperialism; 
  • Aboriginal Australian and Maori history; 
  • nineteenth and twentieth century Australian and New Zealand history.


Karen Fox is a research fellow in the National Centre of Biography and research editor for the Australian Dictionary of Biography. Karen joined the NCB in 2011, after completing her PhD at the Australian National University and her MA at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her PhD thesis was a study of the shifting ways in which ideas about race, gender and nation were reflected and constructed in print media depictions of prominent Aboriginal and Maori women during the second half of the twentieth century. Her MA thesis was a history of knighthoods and damehoods in New Zealand since 1917, with particular emphasis on the awarding of titles to women.

Karen’s research interests include twentieth-century Australian and New Zealand history, imperial and colonial history, gender and feminist history, media history, the history of fame and celebrity, and biography and life writing. She has taught Australian and imperial history at the Australian National University, and her research has appeared in the Women’s History Review, History Australia and Aboriginal History. Karen has two current major research projects, a history of the Australian honours system and a history of fame in Australia since Federation.

Current teaching (2014-2015):

HIST8011 Writing Biography

I also contribute to HIST8013 ADB Internship and HIST1214 Clash of Empires: 1450 to the Present.

Researcher's projects

Karen is currently writing a history of the Australian honours system, in which she emphasises issues of gender, race and class as well as exploring shifting conceptions of honour and reputation. The project provides a fresh way of looking at imperialism and colonialism in the Australian setting. Karen is also interested in the transnational and comparative history of imperial honours, and is researching the use and abandonment of imperial honours in other settler societies, especially New Zealand and Canada.

Karen is also developing a major research project on the history of fame and celebrity in Australia.


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