Dr Karen O'Brien

Senior Lecturer Socio-Legal Studies

A26 - R.C. Mills Building
The University of Sydney

Telephone +61 2 9036 5199

Website Contact Details
Follow@DrKarenOBrien
ARC Centre for History of Emotions

Biographical details

Karen is interested in how people across the world transcend life’s hardships by appealing to the law for justice. Her research explores socio-legal concerns in varying geographical and temporal contexts. It explores legal sources that are rich in personal narrative and it draws on a range of theoretical and methodological approaches that aim to secure an original voice. Her research examines manuscripts and legal records from a variety of legal institutions such as courts, quarter sessions and assizes and takes into account such legal sources as testimony and petitions in people’s attempts to achieve justice.

Research interests

  • Transnational Indigenous social and legal justice;
  • Transnational Indigenous rights in law, policy and practice;
  • Sociology of race
  • The philosophical, legal and cultural foundations of Indigenous rights
  • Early modern social, legal and gender contexts
  • Indigenous political activism
  • Mechanisms of social control

Teaching and supervision

Teaching

SCLG2609 Contemporary Cultural Issues
SCLG2606 Media in Contemporary Society
SCLG3606 Visual Sociology: Society in Images

Previously Taught

KOCR2600 Introduction to Indigenous Australia
KOCR2602 Issues in Indigenous Rights
KOCR2604 Politics of Identity, Gender and Knowledge
KOCR3606 Colonisation and Decolonisation

Supervision

Project Title: Lost in the Shadows: Investigating Racial Identities, Performativity and Ideologies of the Asian Sporting Body

Project Title: Vessels of Culture, Identity and Knowledge: Continuance and Revival of Aboriginal Tied-Bark Canoe Making in South East Australian Indigenous Communities

Project Title: Self-identity and intergenerational transmission of culture within the Italian diaspora: A comparative study across three countries

Project Title: The Influence of Media on Rape Culture

Project Title: The survival paradox: Can a culture survive political transgressions? A study in cultural transition, democracy and the failure of ideas in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Project Title: LGBT South Asians, their Narratives and Multiple Relations:
A Personal Communities Approach

Honours Supervision:

Project Title: Policy and Indigenous Activism at James Price Point

Completions

Yarning with Minjungbal women: testimonial narratives of trans generational trauma and healing explored through relationships with country and culture, community and family.

Current research students

Project title Research student
The survival paradox: Can a culture survive the political transgressions of post-war democratisation? Tamara PLAKALO

Associations

  • Member of Indigenous Studies Research Network
  • Member of International Visual Sociology Association (IVSA)

Awards and honours

Associate Investigator ARC Centre of Excellence in History of the Emotions

2013 Visiting Professor Beijing University of International Business and Economics

The Murray Macgregor Memorial Fellowship, St Deiniol's Library, Hawarden, North Wales

Scholar-in-Residence, Melbourne University, 2001-2002

Invited Speaker

2015 Invited expert speaker on Indigenous visual concepts to students and faculty members of the social sciences of Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon, USA at Sydney University.

2014 Invited expert panelist at the University of Sydney Media Briefing of international journalists representing the Foreign Correspondents Association on the Recognition of Indigenous Australians in the Constitution and the political and historical context of Indigenous Australian identity and political rights within the context of Indigenous Australian constitutional rights.

PhD and master's project opportunities

Selected grants

2017

  • Indigenous Petitioning; O'Brien K; ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions/Associate Investigator.

2016

  • First Australian Rights; O'Brien K; Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences/Research Grant.

2015

  • Redesigning Indigenous Discourse Formation, Decolonising Cultural Production and Asserting Power Through Film; O'Brien K; Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences/Research Support Scheme (FRSS).

2013

  • Investigating Indigenous Testimony, Petition, Treaty and Activism; O'Brien K; Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences/Research Support Scheme (FRSS).

2012

  • Law and Society; Beem B, Crofts T, Hendrischke H, Howard-Wagner D, Humphrey M, Lambourne W, Lee M, Macdonald G, Martin G, O'Brien K, O'Malley P, Park S, Piper N, Scott Bray R, Van Krieken R, Winter B; Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences/FASS Collaborative Research Scheme.

Selected publications

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Books

  • O'Brien, K. (2017). First Australian Petitioning. Bloomsbury.

Book Chapters

  • O'Brien, K. (2015). Indigenous Icons and Teaching Balanda: From Walkabout to Ten Canoes: Art, Activism and David Gulpilil. In Andrea Bandhauer, Michelle Royer (Eds.), Stars in World Cinema: Screen Icons and Star Systems Across Cultures, (pp. 156-166). London: I.B. Tauris. [More Information]

Journals

  • O'Brien, K. (2016). Intimate Worlds: Kinship Relations and Emotional Investment among Nantwich Women 1603-1685. Journal of Family History, 41(2), 131-143. [More Information]
  • O'Brien, K. (2016). Learning From First Nations Collectivist Kinship Systems to improve Collaboration and Social Cohesion: Revisiting dilemmas in transnational feminist research and practice. Journal of Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 23(5).
  • O'Brien, K. (2016). Sexual impropriety, petitioning and the dynamics of ill will in daily urban life. Urban History, 43(2), 177-199. [More Information]
  • O'Brien, K. (2014). Book Review: J. Walvin, The Zong: A Massacre, the Law and the End of Slavery, Yale University Press, 2011, ISSN: 1292-8968. Revue Francaise de civilisation britannique - Cercles [French Journal of British Studies]. [More Information]
  • O'Brien, K. (2014). Boots, Blankets and Bomb Tests: First Australian Petitioning and Resistance to Colonisation. Griffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity, 2(2), 357-376. [More Information]
  • O'Brien, K. (2014). Companions of Heart and Hearth: Hardship and the Changing Structure of the Family in Early Modern English Townships. Journal of Family History, 39(3), 183-203. [More Information]
  • O'Brien, K. (2014). Exhibition review: Forerunners of Change: Celebrating Indigenous Rights and the Aborigines Progressive Association, Hereby Make Protest Exhibition, Carriageworks, Sydney 17 June to 18 July, 2014. History Australia. [More Information]
  • O'Brien, K. (2011). With my eyes, my heart and with my brain I am thinking: Testimony, Treaty and Decolonising Indigenous History from Images. Australia and New Zealand Law and History E-Journal, , 1-27. [More Information]
  • O'Brien, K. (2008). Academic Language, Power and the Impact of Western Knowledge Production on Indigenous Student Learning. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 37, 56-60. [More Information]

Conferences

  • O'Brien, K. (2010). Indigenous Rights and the Politics of Indigenous Identity, Gender and Knowledge. 29th Annual Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society Conference Owning the Past: Whose Past? Whose Present?.
  • O'Brien, K. (2007). Macer's Herbal and Popular Medicine in Early Modern England. Network of Early European Research Forum.
  • O'Brien, K. (2007). Regulating women: The mass media of the early modern world. Reporting Futures: journalism, new media, new - 2007 Public Right To Know Conference.
  • O'Brien, K. (2007). Violent Crime, Gender Relations and Law and Order in Early Modern England. Fenceposts in Legal History: 26th Annual Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society Conference.

2017

  • O'Brien, K. (2017). First Australian Petitioning. Bloomsbury.

2016

  • O'Brien, K. (2016). Intimate Worlds: Kinship Relations and Emotional Investment among Nantwich Women 1603-1685. Journal of Family History, 41(2), 131-143. [More Information]
  • O'Brien, K. (2016). Learning From First Nations Collectivist Kinship Systems to improve Collaboration and Social Cohesion: Revisiting dilemmas in transnational feminist research and practice. Journal of Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 23(5).
  • O'Brien, K. (2016). Sexual impropriety, petitioning and the dynamics of ill will in daily urban life. Urban History, 43(2), 177-199. [More Information]

2015

  • O'Brien, K. (2015). Indigenous Icons and Teaching Balanda: From Walkabout to Ten Canoes: Art, Activism and David Gulpilil. In Andrea Bandhauer, Michelle Royer (Eds.), Stars in World Cinema: Screen Icons and Star Systems Across Cultures, (pp. 156-166). London: I.B. Tauris. [More Information]

2014

  • O'Brien, K. (2014). Book Review: J. Walvin, The Zong: A Massacre, the Law and the End of Slavery, Yale University Press, 2011, ISSN: 1292-8968. Revue Francaise de civilisation britannique - Cercles [French Journal of British Studies]. [More Information]
  • O'Brien, K. (2014). Boots, Blankets and Bomb Tests: First Australian Petitioning and Resistance to Colonisation. Griffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity, 2(2), 357-376. [More Information]
  • O'Brien, K. (2014). Companions of Heart and Hearth: Hardship and the Changing Structure of the Family in Early Modern English Townships. Journal of Family History, 39(3), 183-203. [More Information]
  • O'Brien, K. (2014). Exhibition review: Forerunners of Change: Celebrating Indigenous Rights and the Aborigines Progressive Association, Hereby Make Protest Exhibition, Carriageworks, Sydney 17 June to 18 July, 2014. History Australia. [More Information]

2011

  • O'Brien, K. (2011). With my eyes, my heart and with my brain I am thinking: Testimony, Treaty and Decolonising Indigenous History from Images. Australia and New Zealand Law and History E-Journal, , 1-27. [More Information]

2010

  • O'Brien, K. (2010). Indigenous Rights and the Politics of Indigenous Identity, Gender and Knowledge. 29th Annual Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society Conference Owning the Past: Whose Past? Whose Present?.

2008

  • O'Brien, K. (2008). Academic Language, Power and the Impact of Western Knowledge Production on Indigenous Student Learning. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 37, 56-60. [More Information]

2007

  • O'Brien, K. (2007). Macer's Herbal and Popular Medicine in Early Modern England. Network of Early European Research Forum.
  • O'Brien, K. (2007). Regulating women: The mass media of the early modern world. Reporting Futures: journalism, new media, new - 2007 Public Right To Know Conference.
  • O'Brien, K. (2007). Violent Crime, Gender Relations and Law and Order in Early Modern England. Fenceposts in Legal History: 26th Annual Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society Conference.

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