Australian identities across time and space

Exploring what it means to be Australian now, in the past, and in the future


This research area aims to understand Australian identities in the past and the present, from initial settlement 65,000 years ago to today, and how this helps us imagine future forms of Australian identity. Most Australians are unaware of our continent’s deep past that is largely accessible only through archaeology, genetics, oral histories and Indigenous knowledge. As we move through time towards the present and across the continent and its seascapes, many other fields of study such as anthropology, history, politics and languages contribute to telling the story of great human and environmental diversity and innovation.

We help bridge the arts, humanities and sciences in a holistic understanding of how people and places interact over time, producing many different identities; some of which exist for a short time, others which endure. We view Australia through the lens of its connections with the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, a part of a network of people, places and relationships. This work equips us to imagine future forms of ‘Australian-ness’ so that we better understand ourselves and our place in the world.

We aim to:

  • understand past human lifeways through material remains and how this knowledge impacts the present
  • develop a multifaceted understanding of the past in collaboration with Indigenous people, government, industry and the many publics we serve
  • develop an appreciation of the relevance of Australia’s deep human past in relation to humanity’s global history

Our projects centring on Australian Identity Across Time and Space fall into different research topics such as:

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Botany
  • Digitisation
  • Forensics
  • Genomics
  • Geology
  • Geomorphology
  • Heritage Studies
  • History
  • Indigenous Studies
  • Marine Science, Museums
  • Quaternary Science
  • Radiometric Dating Sciences (14C, OSL etc)
  • Rock Art
  • Zoology

Student archaeology research projects

Courses you may be interested in



Over the past five years, we have raised more than $5 million in cash and kind for numerous large projects ranging from systematic rock art recording, conservation management plans, submerged seascapes and maritime archaeology, to advising industry and government on strategic planning and heritage impacts in northwestern Australia, to training students and postgraduates in real-life work situations.

Our research into Australian Identity is topical and sought after, resulting in regular external funding success through the following sources:

  • International: UNESCO, the World University Network, Matariki Network of Universities, British Museum and other global entities fund our research, communication and outreach.
  • Government: Australian Research Council, CSIRO, Western Australian Museum, and a Commonwealth and State large multi-year research grant.
  • Industry: Large multinationals such as Rio Tinto and BHP, as well as medium and smaller companies, seek our expertise in heritage management and impacts.
  • Philanthropy: Individuals and not-for-profit sector funds are used for primary fieldwork and research as well as to fund the Kimberley Foundation Ian Potter Chair in Rock Art.
  • In kind: Our work is collaborative by nature, so time, expertise, facilities and infrastructure is received and shared with native title and Indigenous corporations, pastoralists, government, community organisations, schools and similar groups.

PhD opportunities


We welcome PhD applicants from science, humanities and social sciences. New PhD students are supervised on a topic of their choice within a supportive community of enthusiastic and expert scholars in the service of striving to produce original research and having an impact on society.

Most of our PhDs are part of large Australian Research Council-funded projects that work across disciplines, universities, native title, government, industry and public sectors. Our field is particularly integrative, and combines elements from different areas in interdisciplinary ways. For students, we require an ability to work in teams and use their own initiative. We often break new ground, so applicants should be prepared to explore both existing and new literatures, as well as other forms of knowledge.

For more information on PhD opportunities, contact the Graduate Research Coordinator in the School of Social Sciences.

Interested in collaborating with us?


We welcome collaboration with people and organisations that seek a deeper understanding of humanity informing real-life outcomes such as primary scientific research, sustainable heritage futures, and training the next generation of Australians. For more information, contact Sven Ouzman.

Call for volunteers

We regularly require volunteers to help with research, communication and outreach. Our Archaeology and Forensics Labs have opportunities for those willing to participate in fieldwork, lab work, and outreach and engagement.

Scholarship opportunities


There are regular postgraduate, travel, research and other scholarships associated with most of our projects, including national and international government scholarships, and Forrest scholarships for WA-centric work. Contact us or search our scholarships database to find out more.

Find out more

Contact Sven Ouzman

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