Dr Laura Rademaker

PhB (Australian National University); PhD (Australian National University)
Postdoctoral Research Associate
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 Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Centre for Indigenous History. 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

FL170100121 Rediscovering the Deep Human Past: Global Networks, Future Opportunities (led by Professor Ann McGrath).

This project will analyse Australia's epic Indigenous narratives alongside relevant new scientific evidence in order to create a big picture history of Greater Australia/Sahul, and as a result transform the scale and scope of history. Fresh periodisations and understandings will reorient this history in its wider global context. Through critiquing the evolution of disciplines, especially the world history/prehistory divide and the Cambridge training nexus, the project will develop future-oriented transdisciplinary techniques for researching the deep human past. As part of the project, a diverse generation of early career scholars will join top international networks and be trained in digital research techniques and delivery platforms for researching this exceptional human 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


Return to top

Updated:  29 January 2022 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers