Patricia O’Brien

Expertise: Pacific History (Excl. New Zealand And Maori), Maori History, Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander History, Australian History (Excl. Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander History, British History.


Patricia O’Brien is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, School of History, RSSS, CASS, Australian National University.

research interests include indigenous resistance, colonial violence and power, gender and race.  My work is primarily focussed on Australia and the Pacific but extends further afield. My current ARC Future Fellowship project is concerned with the interwar colonial period, and the histories of League of Nations Mandated Territories within a long view of imperial histories from around the world. The impact of World War One on Pacific imperialism and reforged nationalisms in Australia and New Zealand after this event are some focal points of this study, as is the shifting landscape of ideas about race, gender and violence in this age of ‘protective’ colonialism. I am exploring these questions in a number of ways, firstly through a biography of the Samoan nationalist leader Ta’isi O. F. Nelson.

I am a cultural historian of colonialism, race relations and indigenous histories within a broad arc of imperialism.

I was visiting Associate Professor in the Center for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies and the Department of History in the Edmund A Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University Washington DC from 2001 to 2013. In 2011 I was the John I. Kislak Fellow in American Studies at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, Washington DC. In 2012 I was JD Stout Fellow in New Zealand Studies at Victoria University Wellington, where I began researching New Zealand’s Mandate over Western Samoa, focusing particularly upon the nationalist leader Ta’isi O.F. Nelson.

I was awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship at the Australian National University in 2013 for my project ‘Colonialism, Violence and Resistance in the interwar Pacific: Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Samoa and beyond’.

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