CASS researchers on top in ARC Special Research Initiative grant round

Monday 19 October 2020

Seven researchers from the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences have been awarded funding through the Australian Research Council’s Special Research Initiative for Australian Society, History and Culture.

CASS academics are the project leads on 4 out of 5 of the successful applications from ANU. Additionally, three CASS researchers are co-investigators on successful applications led by non-ANU researchers.

Dean of the College Professor Rae Frances offered her warm congratulations to those who received funding, and acknowledged the high-quality work by all applicants.

“CASS’s success rate was 11%, which is well above the overall national success rate of just 7.1%,” Professor Frances says. “This is testament to the excellence and national leadership provided by our researchers.”

“As well as being a highly competitive round, it was a tough one. The timing and circumstances in which this round occurred were unprecedented, with researchers working remotely and in the midst of a pandemic, together with a significantly shortened preparation period. We recognise the efforts of everyone involved in developing applications.”

This SRI funded research on Australian and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander society, history, culture, literature, art, music, politics and geography. It was designed to support researchers of the “highest international standing and foster high-quality postdoctoral researchers.

Successful CASS applicants

Project Lead: Professor Katherine Bode (School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics)
Project Title: Read all about it: Digital participation in Australian newspaper fiction
Amount Awarded: $290,606
Project Summary: The Project aims to transform understandings of Australian literary history by using innovative digital methods to discover, curate and investigate tens of thousands of unrecorded novels, novellas and short stories in 20th-century Australian newspapers. It intends to advance national research capacity by facilitating collaboration, providing research training and making a substantial contribution to open-access, sustainable digital infrastructure for Australian literary studies. Expected outcomes include a new history of Australian literature and new model for participatory literary history. The Project's benefits should include expanding the National Library of Australia's records and promoting public engagement with Australian literature.

Project Lead: Professor Matthew Spriggs (School of Archaeology and Anthropology)
Project Title: Aboriginal Involvement in the Early Development of Australian Archaeology
Amount Awarded: $277,158
Project Summary: This project aims to interrogate the importance of Aboriginal knowledge in the development of Australian archaeology. Through a close study of archival and published archaeological literature, the project anticipates generating new knowledge and innovative interpretations of archaeology's history. Expected outcomes include a radical rewriting of a significant chapter of the nation’s history and enhancing the reinterpretation of museum displays and tourism presentation of heritage sites. This reclaiming of the contribution of the First Australians in the development of the current knowledge of 65,000 years of our history, seeks to benefit Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and to contribute to ongoing reconciliation.

Project Leads: Professor Jane Simpson, Dr Carmel O'Shannessy (School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics)
Project Title: Understanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language ecologies
Amount Awarded: $280,510
Project Summary: The project aims to advance understandings of Indigenous languages across Australia by investigating which languages are used where (‘language ecologies’), and how they impact on people's lives. With Indigenous co-researchers, the project plans to illuminate present and historical features of language ecologies. Its significance is in bridging a chasm between Indigenous people's understandings of languages, and a lack of good data on this for policy-makers. Expected outcomes are better empirical data on language use and new methods for identifying language ecologies. Intended benefits include increased appreciation of the rich history of Indigenous language use, leading to new capacity for policy-makers to distinguish language ecologies.

Project Lead: Dr Maya Haviland (ANU Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies)
Project Title: Following the Trade Routes: exchange and innovations in cultural economy
Amount Awarded: $194,500
Project Summary: This project aims to create new understanding of cultural economies and trade routes that shaped Aboriginal societies across Australia, and to explore how such knowledge informs society today. It expects to generate national research capacity through innovative networks of early-mid career scholars, Indigenous researchers and cultural custodians, and new understandings of connections between living and archival knowledge of Indigenous trade in the Kimberley and Desert Regions. This should provide significant outcomes and benefits including revitalised Indigenous cultural exchange and trade practices; strengthened Indigenous networks and cultural authority; and greater awareness of this part of Australia’s history, economy and society.

Project Co-Investigator: Dr Laura Rademaker (School of History)
Project Title: Art at a crossroads: Aboriginal responses to contact in northern Australia
Amount Awarded: $273,828
Project Summary: This project aims to investigate historical Aboriginal responses to ‘contact’ with newcomers to their land. It will generate new knowledge using systematic recordings of rock art and bark paintings created during the last 400 years in western Arnhem Land. The analysis of these key visual first-hand records of Australia’s history, together with documentation from digital archives and other media, will lead to new ways of understanding Aboriginal history. Drawing on multiple forms of media, we will examine how Aboriginal people used graphic systems to navigate threats and opportunities in northern Australia, with the main benefit to Australia being a more comprehensive and inclusive written history.

Project Co-Investigator: Dr Ruth Morgan (School of History)
Project Title: Understanding the water cultures of the Murray-Darling Basin
Amount Awarded: $281,446
Project Summary: The project aims to generate new knowledge of the formation and evolution of cultural values and practices relating to water in the Murray-Darling Basin. By applying innovative approaches from the environmental humanities, it will investigate the development of cultures of water and their role in long-standing water-sharing conflicts. The expected outcome is a greater understanding of influential ideas about the value of water and rivers and a Water Cultures Network to facilitate collaboration between humanities and social science scholars, environmental scientists, and water managers. The public will benefit from knowing how water use behaviours evolved in the Basin and how they might be reframed to adapt to a hotter, drier future.

Co-Investigator: Professor Darren Halpin (School of Politics and International Relations)
Project Title: Transforming Democracy in the Bush: A Study of Politics in Rural Australia
Amount Awarded: $262,359
Project Summary: This project aims to examine changing patterns of political participation and representation in rural Australia. Almost one third of our population lives outside major cities yet little is known about the democratic dynamics unfolding in rural Australia as it faces major demographic, economic and environmental change. Through in-depth case research this project will analyse how rural Australians participate in politics, the interests they seek to advance and the efficacy of their political and civic activities. Expected outcomes include strengthened research capacity in rural politics, new frameworks for assessing how democracy is transforming, and reform pathways to enhance the engagement of diverse constituencies in our political system.

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Updated:  21 October 2020/Responsible Officer:  CASS Marketing & Communications/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications