Associate Professor Grace Karskens

Associate Professor
BA MA PhD Sydney
School of Humanities & Languages


9385 1673
Room 340, Morven Brown
Kensington Campus

My research areas include Australian colonial history, urban and environmental history and cross-cultural history, and I'm interested in promoting historical understandings and awareness to wide audiences through writing, film, art, museums and online. At the moment I am a Trustee of Sydney Living Museums (the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales) and the online Dictionary of Sydney project. In 2012 I spent a wonderful three months at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich as a Carson Fellow.  

My current major project is an ethnographic environmental history of Castlereagh in Western Sydney, a story that spans around 50,000 years of human history. The book will be pulished by CSIRO Press. 

I am also working on an essay revisiting historical/archaeological work I did in 1987/1988 on Cox's  famous road over the Blue Mountains, reflecting upon what that old road can tell us about colonial society, environmental history and settler-Aboriginal relations in the bicentennial year of the so-called 'First Crossing' of the Blue Mountains in 1813.


At present I co-ordinate and teach ARTS1190 Australian Legends: Introducing Australian Studies.

Consultation Times
TBA and by appointment.

Honours and prizes


2012   Allan Martin Lecturer, Australian National University, April 2012

2011  Winner, Best Book 2009-2010 (non-North American), Urban History Association (US) for The Colony: A History of Early Sydney.

2010   Elected a  Fellow of the Australian Academy for the Humanities

2010   Winner, Prime Minister’s Literary Award – Non-Fiction, for The Colony: A History of Early Sydney.

2006   Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, University of New South Wales 

2000  National Trust Heritage 2000 Award : Category E – Print. Joint winner with Godden Mackay Logan for Cumberland/Gloucester Street Site Archaeological Project Publications, including Inside the Rocks: The Archaeology of a Neighbourhood and four academic articles.

2000  National Trust Heritage 2000 Award : Category A - Conservation- Built/Cultural Heritage. Joint winner with Siobhan Lavelle for  'Stage 1 Conservation Plan for the Great North Road'.

1998  National Christina Smith Award for Community History, for The Rocks: Life in Early Sydney.

1998  NSW Premier's Award (Community and Regional History) for The Rocks: Life in Early Sydney.

Professional contribution

Member  Editorial Board, Recollections: a Journal of Museums and Collections,  National Museum of Australia (2008-2011)

Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Post Medieval Archaeology 2003-2008

Member, Creative Services Committee, Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales

Chair,   Environmental City Panel, State of Australian Cities Conference, Brisbane, December 2005.

Expert Advisor,  Museum of Sydney, Hyde Park Barracks Museum and Susannah Place Museum

Expert Advisor,   The Rocks Heritage Interpretation Plan 2005 (SydneyHarbour Foreshore Authority)

Judge,   SydneyHarbour Foreshore Authority Heritage Prize, 2005

Associate Editor/reader,  Public History Review         

Associate Editor/reader,  Journal of Australian Colonial History 

Guest Editor, Journal of the Society for Historical Archaeology (University of Nevada) 2001 (with Susan Lawrence)

Reader, International  Australian Research Council.

Reader, Australian Historical Studies

Reader, Australasian Historical Archaeology

Reader,  Journal of Social Archaeology

Reader, Labour History

Reader, Hecate

Book Review Editor, Labour History (with Bruce Scates) 1998-2003


Affiliations and membership

Carson Fellow, Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Munich

Trustee, Sydney Living Museums (Historic Houses Trust of NewSouth Wales)

Trustee, The Dictionary of Sydney

Celebrity Speaker, Art Gallery of New South Wales

Visiting Fellow, National Museum of Australia

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