Dr Miranda Johnson

BA Well MA Auck PhD Chicago
Senior Lecturer

A14 - The Quadrangle
The University of Sydney

Telephone +61 2 9351 3884
Fax +61 2 9351 7760

Website > Race and Ethnicity in the Global South (REGS)
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Biographical details

I am a historian of the modern Pacific world, focusing on Indigenous, cross-cultural, and colonial histories. Much of my research has focused on legal claiming, expressions of indigeneity, and the politics of writing history. My new research projects consider questions of modernity, citizenship, sovereignty, and cross-cultural methodology in the context of expanding settler and imperial projects in the twentieth-century Pacific. I have held appointments as a postdoctoral research fellow as part of Professor Warwick Anderson’s ARC Laureate Fellowship project, “Race and Ethnicity in the Global South”; and I have taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Michigan. I welcome undergraduate and postgraduate students interested in Pacific, Indigenous, and cross-cultural history.

Research interests

  • Pacific World history, esp. 20th century
  • Indigenous histories
  • Settler colonial history
  • Australian and New Zealand history, esp. focusing on race and indigeneity
  • Postcolonial theory
  • Cross-cultural legal history

Current research students

Project title Research student
Histories of West Papuan resistance and resilience Emma KLUGE

Current projects

My first, prize-winning, book, The Land Is Our History: Indigeneity, Law, and the Settler State (Oxford University Press, 2016) chronicles the extraordinary story of Indigenous activism in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand in the late twentieth century. Taking their claims for land and identity to law in the 1970s Indigenous peoples opened up a new political space for the negotiation of their rights, provoking debates about national identity and belonging that changed the settler states. As well as winning the W. K. Hancock award from the Australian Historical Association (2018), this book was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Prize in history (general history category) and the New Zealand Historical Association First Book Prize.

My new research examines how Indigenous and colonized peoples engaged notions of progress in the twentieth century South Pacific as these territories came under intensifying colonial rule. Focusing on historical archives of the settler states of Australia, New Zealand, and their respective Pacific empires (including Papua New Guinea, Nauru, the Cook Islands, and Sāmoa), it begins in the aftermath of World War and ends with the opening of the era of decolonization and self-determination in the 1960s. Rejecting the idea that Indigenous identity is bound to notions of timeless tradition, this project pursues a rigorous and historically sensitive definition of “Indigenous modernity” through multi-sited case studies.

Awards and honours

2018: W. K. Hancock Prize, Australian Historical Association

2017: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences “Excellence in Teaching Award”

2016: Australasian Pioneers' Club International Fellowship for Early Career Researchers

2008-2011: Postdoctoral fellowship, Society of Fellows, University of Michigan

2009: American Philosophical Society Phillips Grant Fund for Native American Research

2007-2008: University of Chicago William Rainey Harper Dissertation Fellowship

2007: CIC American Indian Studies Graduate Fellowship at the Newberry Library

2006-2007: 3CT Pre-Doctoral Fellow (Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory)

April 2005: CIC American Indian Studies Consortium Graduate Conference 2005 paper prize

2003-2006: Top Achiever/Bright Futures Doctoral Scholarship, Tertiary Education Commission, New Zealand, for overseas study

In the media

2017: Interviewed for “Australia Faces a war with its British History,” inOzy.com, 26 November, http://www.ozy.com/fast-forward/australia-faces-a-war-with-its-british-history/81900

2017: “The River is Not a Person: Indigeneity and the Sacred in Aotearoa New Zealand,”The Immanent Frame,http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2017/06/14/the-river-is-not-a-person/

2017: “The Pitcairn Project: Finding Pacific Women’s Agency through Tapa Cloth.” http://sydney.edu.au/news/arts/2228.html?newsstoryid=16579

2017: BBC History Hour - Implications of the 1972 Aboriginal Tent Embassy

PhD and master's project opportunities

Selected grants

2018

  • Indigenous histories: people, culture, place;Indigenous histories; Towers L, Philp J, Poll M, Johnson M, Troy J; DVC Education/Large Educational Innovation Grant.

2017

  • Sydney Pacific Studies Network; Johnson M, Webb M; Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences/FASS Collaborative Research Scheme.

2015

  • Aboriginal Communities as Sites of Experiment: Making Research Subjects; Anderson W, Johnson M; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).

2012

  • Global Sensibilities – The New History of Ideas; Blanshard A, Caine B, Celermajer D, Ferng J, Fitzmaurice A, Gatens M, Harmon C, Johnson M, Milam J, Sluga G, White S; Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences/FASS Collaborative Research Scheme.

Selected publications

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Books

  • Johnson, M. (2016). The Land Is Our History: Indigeneity, Law, and the Settler State. New York: Oxford University Press. [More Information]

Edited Books

  • Anderson, W., Johnson, M., Brookes, B. (2018). Pacific Futures: Past and Present. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Book Chapters

  • Johnson, M. (2017). Australia's Black History: The Politics of Comparison and Transnational Indigenous Activism in Commonwealth Settler State. In Anna Clark, Anne Rees, Alecia Simmonds (Eds.), Transnationalism, Nationalism and Australian History, (pp. 35-47). Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan. [More Information]
  • Johnson, M. (2016). Chiefly Women: Queen Victoria, Meri Mangakahia and the Maori Parliament. In Sarah Carter, Maria Nugent (Eds.), Mistress of Everything: Queen Victoria in Indigenous Worlds, (pp. 228-245). Manchester: Manchester University Press. [More Information]
  • Johnson, M. (2016). Making a treaty archive: Indigenous rights on the Canadian Development Frontier. In Stewart Motha, Honni Van Rijswijk (Eds.), Law, Memory, Violence: Uncovering the Counter-Archive, (pp. 195-214). Abingdon: Routledge. [More Information]
  • Johnson, M. (2015). Indigeneity and the Archive: Mediating the Public, the Private, and the Communal. In Paul Ashton, Chris Gibson, Ross Gibson (Eds.), By-Roads and Hidden Treasures: Mapping Cultural Assets in Regional Australia, (pp. 87-98). Crawley: University of Western Australia Publishing (UWAP).
  • Johnson, M. (2009). The Gove Land Rights Case and the Problem of History in a Decolonising Australia. In Bain Attwood and Tom Griffiths (Eds.), Frontier, race, nation: Henry Reynolds and Australian history, (pp. 305-427). Melbourne, Australia: Australian Scholarly Publishing.

Journals

  • Johnson, M. (2019). The Case of the Million-Dollar Duck: A Hunter, His Treaty, and the Bending of the Settler Contract. American Historical Review, 124(1), 56-86. [More Information]
  • Johnson, M., Rowse, T. (2018). Indigenous and other Australians since 1901: A conversation between Professor Tim Rowse and Dr Miranda Johnson. Aboriginal History, 42, 125-139. [More Information]
  • Johnson, M. (2018). Sacred Claims and the Politics of Indigeneity in Australia. Journal of Religious and Political Practice, 4(1), 78-92. [More Information]
  • Johnson, M. (2014). Writing Indigenous Histories Now. Australian Historical Studies, 45(3), 317-330. [More Information]
  • Johnson, M. (2011). Burdens of Belonging: Indigeneity and the re-founding of Aotearoa New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of History, 45(1), 102-112.
  • Johnson, M. (2011). Reconciliation, indigeneity and postcolonial nationhood in settler states. Postcolonial Studies, 14(2), 187-201. [More Information]
  • Johnson, M. (2008). Making History Public: Indigenous Claims to Settler States. Public Culture, 20(1), 97-117. [More Information]
  • Johnson, M. (2005). 'The land of the wrong white crowd': Anti-racist organizations and Pakeha identity politics in the 1970s. New Zealand Journal of History, 39(2), 137-157.
  • Johnson, M. (2005). Honest acts and dangerous supplements: Indigenous oral history and historical practice in settler societies. Postcolonial Studies, 8(3), 261-276. [More Information]
  • Johnson, M. (2000). Chinese Civil Society: A case of failure or scholarly obfuscation? New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, 2(2), 107-135.

2019

  • Johnson, M. (2019). The Case of the Million-Dollar Duck: A Hunter, His Treaty, and the Bending of the Settler Contract. American Historical Review, 124(1), 56-86. [More Information]

2018

  • Johnson, M., Rowse, T. (2018). Indigenous and other Australians since 1901: A conversation between Professor Tim Rowse and Dr Miranda Johnson. Aboriginal History, 42, 125-139. [More Information]
  • Anderson, W., Johnson, M., Brookes, B. (2018). Pacific Futures: Past and Present. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
  • Johnson, M. (2018). Sacred Claims and the Politics of Indigeneity in Australia. Journal of Religious and Political Practice, 4(1), 78-92. [More Information]

2017

  • Johnson, M. (2017). Australia's Black History: The Politics of Comparison and Transnational Indigenous Activism in Commonwealth Settler State. In Anna Clark, Anne Rees, Alecia Simmonds (Eds.), Transnationalism, Nationalism and Australian History, (pp. 35-47). Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan. [More Information]

2016

  • Johnson, M. (2016). Chiefly Women: Queen Victoria, Meri Mangakahia and the Maori Parliament. In Sarah Carter, Maria Nugent (Eds.), Mistress of Everything: Queen Victoria in Indigenous Worlds, (pp. 228-245). Manchester: Manchester University Press. [More Information]
  • Johnson, M. (2016). Making a treaty archive: Indigenous rights on the Canadian Development Frontier. In Stewart Motha, Honni Van Rijswijk (Eds.), Law, Memory, Violence: Uncovering the Counter-Archive, (pp. 195-214). Abingdon: Routledge. [More Information]
  • Johnson, M. (2016). The Land Is Our History: Indigeneity, Law, and the Settler State. New York: Oxford University Press. [More Information]

2015

  • Johnson, M. (2015). Indigeneity and the Archive: Mediating the Public, the Private, and the Communal. In Paul Ashton, Chris Gibson, Ross Gibson (Eds.), By-Roads and Hidden Treasures: Mapping Cultural Assets in Regional Australia, (pp. 87-98). Crawley: University of Western Australia Publishing (UWAP).

2014

  • Johnson, M. (2014). Writing Indigenous Histories Now. Australian Historical Studies, 45(3), 317-330. [More Information]

2011

  • Johnson, M. (2011). Burdens of Belonging: Indigeneity and the re-founding of Aotearoa New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of History, 45(1), 102-112.
  • Johnson, M. (2011). Reconciliation, indigeneity and postcolonial nationhood in settler states. Postcolonial Studies, 14(2), 187-201. [More Information]

2009

  • Johnson, M. (2009). The Gove Land Rights Case and the Problem of History in a Decolonising Australia. In Bain Attwood and Tom Griffiths (Eds.), Frontier, race, nation: Henry Reynolds and Australian history, (pp. 305-427). Melbourne, Australia: Australian Scholarly Publishing.

2008

  • Johnson, M. (2008). Making History Public: Indigenous Claims to Settler States. Public Culture, 20(1), 97-117. [More Information]

2005

  • Johnson, M. (2005). 'The land of the wrong white crowd': Anti-racist organizations and Pakeha identity politics in the 1970s. New Zealand Journal of History, 39(2), 137-157.
  • Johnson, M. (2005). Honest acts and dangerous supplements: Indigenous oral history and historical practice in settler societies. Postcolonial Studies, 8(3), 261-276. [More Information]

2000

  • Johnson, M. (2000). Chinese Civil Society: A case of failure or scholarly obfuscation? New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, 2(2), 107-135.

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