Dr Laura Rademaker

PhB (Australian National University); PhD (Australian National University)
ARC DECRA Research Fellow
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Research interests

Indigenous history, ‘deep’ history, gender and women’s history, religious history, oral history and memory, language and cross-cultural encounters, Christian missions.



Laura Rademaker is an ARC DECRA research fellow. She is the author of Found in Translation: Many Meanings on a North Australian Mission (University of Hawai’i Press, 2018) on language and cross-cultural exchange at Christian missions to Aboriginal people, awarded the 2020 Hancock Prize. Her work explores the possibilities of ‘cross-culturalising’ history, interdisciplinary histories as well as oral history and memory. At present, is contributing to the Deep Human Past project, seeking to tell the ‘deep’ history of Australia and expand notions of history and the past. She is also working on a book about the Tiwi Islands and Aboriginal encounters with Catholicism as well as researching the closing of Christian missions, secularisation and Indigenous self-determination. She is co-editor of the Journal of Religious History and associate monographs editor for Aboriginal history Monographs.

Researcher's projects

DE220100042 Self-determination for Indigenous Australia: histories, visions and voice

This project aims to understand what self-determination meant over the late twentieth century, when missions were transformed into Aboriginal communities of today. It expects to generate new knowledge of how selfdetermination brought new freedoms, rights and opportunities to Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, even as it meant new challenges. Expected outcomes include methods for collaborative community-based research, giving voice to historical Indigenous experiences. The project will provide significant benefits for policymakers engaging with remote Indigenous communities and generate deeper cultural understanding and
awareness of an important era in Australia’s Indigenous history.

SR200200062 Art at a crossroads: Aboriginal responses to contact in northern Australia

This research targets a vital chapter in Australia’s history: Aboriginal responses to ‘contact’ with newcomers to their land. While there is a lack of representation of Aboriginal people in the traditional archives, Aboriginal people did record their experiences in art. This project, therefore, focuses on the artistic record, in particular the rock art and bark paintings created during the last 400 years in western Arnhem Land – as key visual references of a firsthand record of Australia’s history. In this project, we will examine the ways Aboriginal people used art to navigate threats and opportunities in northern Australia while, at the same time, developing a more comprehensive and inclusive understanding of Australia’s history.

Available student projects

Aboriginal history, Christian missions, Australian religious history, deep history

Current student projects

Kathryn Wells - Aboriginal music and political movements in the 20th Century


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  23 July 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers