Professor Grace Karskens

Professor

BA MA PhD Sydney

School of Humanities & Languages

Contact

02 9385 1673
340 Morven Brown
Kensington Campus
Fields: Historical Studies, Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
Tags: Understanding Australia's Past, Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology

Grace Karskens is Professor of History in the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of New South Wales. Her research areas include Australian colonial history, urban history, cross-cultural history and environmental history. Grace is interested in promoting historical understandings and awareness to wide audiences and has served as a Trustee of the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales and of the Dictionary of Sydney. Her books include Inside the Rocks: The Archaeology of a Neighbourhood and the multi-award winning The Rocks: life in early Sydney. Her latest book, The Colony: A History of Early Sydney won the 2010 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for non-fiction and the US Urban History Association's prize for Best Book 2010. Grace was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2010. At the moment she is completing her next book People of the River to be published by Allen & Unwin.

Publications

    Books

    • Karskens GE, 2009, The Colony: A history of early Sydney, 1st, Allen & Unwin, Sydney
    • Karskens GE, 1999, Inside the Rocks: the archaeology of a neighbourhood,, Original, Hale and Iremonger Publishers, Sydney
    • Karskens G, 1991, Holroyd A Social History of Western Sydney, UNSW Press
    • Karskens GE, 1988, Cox's Way: An Historical and Archaeological Study of Cox's Road and Early Crossings of the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, 1, Lands Department of New South Wales, Sydney

    Book Chapters

    • Stockton E;Karskens G;Jackson M, 2019, ''Yellomundee: A Human Landscape'', in Knox K; Stockton E (ed.), Aboriginal Heritage of the Blue Mountains: Recent Research and Reflections, edn. 1, Blue Mountain Education and Research Trust, Lawson NSW, pp. 33 - 44
    • Karskens G, 2017, '‘On the Rocks – A Brief History’', in Dunn, J; Peake B; Piscopo A (ed.), Sirius, edn. 1, Piper Press, Sydney, pp. 10 - 11
    • Karskens G, 2012, 'Naked possession: Building and the politics of legitimate occupancy in early New South Wales, Australia', in European Expansion and Indigenous Response, pp. 325 - 369
    • Karskens G, 2011, 'The early colonial presence, 1788–1822', in The Cambridge History of Australia, pp. 91 - 120, http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHO9781107445758.008
    • Karskens GE, 2010, 'Introduction', in Ashton P; Butler Bowden C; Cossu A; Johnson W (ed.), Painting the Rocks: The Loss of Old Sydney, edn. first, HIstoric Houses Trust of New South Wales, Sydney, pp. 11 - 13
    • Karskens GE, 2006, 'Making City Lives: Urban Achaeology and Australian Social, Cultural and Urban history', in Green A; Leech R (ed.), Cities in the World 1500-2000, edn. 1, Maney, UK, pp. 269 - 281
    • Karskens GE, 2003, 'The archaeology of cities: what is it we want to know?', in Murray T (ed.), Exploring the modern city: recent approaches to urban history and archaeology, edn. First, Historic Houses Trust (NSW), Sydney, pp. 87 - 111
    • Karskens GE, 2001, 'Small things, big pictures: new perspectives from the archaeology of Sydney`s rocks neighbourhood', in Mayne A; Murray T (ed.), The archaeology of urban landscapes: explorations in slumland, edn. Original, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 69 - 85
    • Karskens GE, 1998, ''The Great North Road: Historical Overview Convict Trail Project, 1998, 6-28', in Banks L (ed.), Exploring the Great North Road: 1998 Forum Papers, edn. 1, Convict Trail Project Inc, Sydney, pp. 6 - 28
    • Karskens GE, 1998, 'Sydney', in Davison G; Hirst J; Macintyre S (ed.), Oxford Companion to Australian History, edn. 1, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, pp. 623 - 624
    • Karskens GE, 1992, 'Spinning Yarns: An Oral History of Working Life at Bonds Cotton Spinning Mill, Pendle Hill, 1923-1988', in Shields J (ed.), All Our Labours: Oral Histories of Working Life in Twentieth Century Sydney, edn. 1, UNSW Press, Sydney, pp. 10 - 46
    • Karskens GE, 1989, 'The House on the Hill: The State Conservatorium and `First Class Music' in New South Wales', in Coltheart L (ed.), Significant Sites: History and public works in New South Wales, edn. 1, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, pp. 121 - 141
    • Karskens GE, 1987, 'Between City and Country: 1920s Concord', in Kelly M (ed.), Sydney: City of Suburbs, edn. 1, UNSW Press, Sydney, pp. 125 - 148

    Journal articles

    • Karskens G, 2019, '‘Life and death on Dyarubbin: reports from the river’', Griffith Review, pp. 102 - 106
    • Karskens G, 2018, 'Correspondence, Mark McKenna’s, ‘Moment of Truth: History and Australia’s Future’', Quarterly Essay, pp. 112 - 114
    • Parkes R;Ross S;Sobotkova A;Evans T;Crook P;Lupack S;Karskens G;Leslie F;Merson J, 2018, '‘Ruined Castle Shale Mining Settlement, Katoomba NSW: Report on a Pilot Survey’', Australasian historical archaeology : journal of the Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology, vol. 36, pp. 86 - 92
    • Karskens GE, 2018, 'Fire in the forests? Exploring the human-ecological history of Australia’s first frontier', Environment and History, http://dx.doi.org/10.3197/096734018X15254461646378
    • Karskens GE, 2017, 'Phillip and the Eora: Governing race in New South Wales', The Sydney Journal, vol. 5, pp. 39 - 55, http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/journals/index.php/sydney_journal/issue/view/419/showToc
    • Karskens G, 2016, 'Floods and Flood-mindedness in Early Colonial Australia', Environmental History, vol. 21, pp. 315 - 342, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/envhis/emv186
    • Karskens GE, 2015, 'The Governor and his convict architect: Alisdair McGregor’s A forger’s progress and Luke Slattery’s The First Dismissal', Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/the-governor-and-his-convict-architect-20150124-12wkbq.html
    • Karskens GE, 2014, 'The Blue Mountains Crossings: New Histories from the Old Legends', Journal of Australian Colonial History, vol. 16, pp. 197 - 225, http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=449772476836297;res=IELHSS
    • Karskens GE, 2013, 'Seeking Sydney from the ground up: foundations and horizons in Sydney's history', Sydney Journal, vol. 4, pp. 180 - 203, http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/
    • Karskens GE, 2013, 'The settler evolution: space, place and memory in early colonial Australia', Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, vol. 13, pp. 1 - 21, http://www.nla.gov.au/openpublish/index.php/jasal/index
    • Karskens GE, 2013, 'All that is Solid: Castlereagh 1999', RCC Perspectives, pp. 9 - 12, http://www.carsoncenter.uni-muenchen.de/publications/perspectives_mainpage/2013_perspectives/index.html
    • Karskens GE, 2011, 'Review of Alan Frost, Botany Bay: The Real Story, in Sydney Morning Herald, 19-20 February, 2011', Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/botany-bay-the-real-story-20110222-1b3n3.html
    • Karskens GE, 2011, 'Archival Riches: Review of Anna Johnston, The Paper War: Morality, Print Culture and Power in Colonial New South Wales', Australian Book Review, pp. 67 - 68, https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/about/59-october-2011/541-anna-johnston-the-paper-war?tmpl=component&print=1
    • Karskens GE, 2011, 'What is a gentleman to do? Penny Russell’s Savage or Civilised? and Lucy Sussex’s, Saltwater in the Ink', Australian Literary Review
    • Karskens GE, 2011, '‘Red coats, blue jackets, black skin: Aboriginal men and clothing in the early colonial New South Wales’', Aboriginal History, vol. 35, pp. 1 - 36
    • Karskens GE, 2010, 'Review of Tiffany Shellam, Shaking hands on the fringes', Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. 96, pp. 103 - 105, http://web.b.ebscohost.com.wwwproxy0.library.unsw.edu.au/ehost/detail/detail?vid=4&sid=7d9fc9f0-3ee7-4087-890d-5f18cdfdfc31@sessionmgr105&hid=125&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#AN=51203317
    • Karskens GE, 2010, 'Review of Craig Wilcox, Red Coat Dreaming: How colonial Australia embraced the British Army', ReCollections (Canberra), vol. 5, http://recollections.nma.gov.au/issues/vol_5_no_2/book_reviews/red_coat_dreaming
    • Karskens GE, 2010, 'Barangaroo, a woman worth remembering', Sydney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/barangaroo-a-woman-worth-remembering-20100305-pot6.html
    • Karskens GE;Waterhouse R, 2010, ''Too sacred to be taken away': Property, Liberty, Tyranny and the 'Rum Rebellion'', Journal of Australian Colonial History, vol. 12, pp. 1 - 22
    • Karskens G, 2009, 'The melbourne story', ReCollections, vol. 4
    • Karskens GE, 2009, 'Review of ‘The Melbourne Story’ exhibition, Museum of Victoria', ReCollections (Canberra), vol. 4, http://recollections.nma.gov.au/issues/vol_4_no_2/exhibition_reviews/the_melbourne_story/
    • Karskens GE, 2009, 'The Rocks', The Sydney Journal, vol. 2, pp. 117 - 123
    • Brown S;Dovers S;Frawley J;Gaynor A;Goodall H;Karskens G;Mullins S, 2008, 'Can Environmental History Save the World?', History Australia, vol. 5, pp. 03.1 - 03.24, http://dx.doi.org/10.2104/ha080003
    • Karskens GE, 2008, 'Review of Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, Closing Hell’s Gates: The Death of a Convict Station', Tasmanian Historical Studies, vol. 13, pp. 155 - 156
    • Karskens GE;Gaynor A;Dovers S;Mullins S;Brown S;Goodall H;Frawley J, 2008, 'Can Environmental History Save the World?', History Australia, vol. 5, pp. 1 - 24
    • Karskens G, 2007, 'Water dreams, earthen histories: Exploring urban environmental history at the Penrith Lakes Scheme and Castlereagh, Sydney', Environment and History, vol. 13, pp. 115 - 154, http://dx.doi.org/10.3197/096734007780473555
    • Karskens GE, 2007, 'Review of an exhibition at Museum of Sydney: `Bridging Sydney`', reCollections: Journal of the National Museum of Australia, vol. 2, pp. 1 - 2, http://recollections.nma.gov.au/issues/vol_2_no2/exhibition_reviews/bridging_sydney/
    • Karskens GE, 2006, 'Nefarious Geographies: Convicts and the Early Sydney Environment', Tasmanian Historical Studies, vol. 11, pp. 15 - 27, http://search.informit.com.au.wwwproxy0.library.unsw.edu.au/fullText;dn=200704599;res=APAFT
    • Karskens GE, 2006, 'Resurrecting Chapman', Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal, vol. 18, pp. 8 - 21
    • Karskens GE, 2005, 'Review of Seamus O’Hanlon, Together apart: Boarding house, hostel and flat life in pre-war Melbourne', Australian Historical Studies, vol. 37, pp. 178 - 179
    • Karskens GE, 2005, '`This spirit of emigration`: the nature and meanings of escape in early New South Wales', Journal of Australian Colonial History, vol. 7, pp. 1 - 34
    • Karskens GE, 2005, 'Review of Pat Jalland, Australian ways of death: A social and cultural history 1840-1918', Journal of Religious History, vol. 29, pp. 200 - 202
    • Karskens GE, 2005, 'Together apart: Boarding house, hostel and flat life in pre-war Melbourne', Australian Historical Studies, vol. 37, pp. 178 - 179
    • Karskens GE, 2004, 'Review of Anthony Scott, Tuggerah Lakes – way back when.', Labour History: a journal of labour and social history, vol. 84
    • Karskens G, 2003, 'Tourists and pilgrims: (Re)visiting the rocks', Journal of Australian Studies, vol. 27, pp. 29 - 38, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14443050309387885
    • Lawrence S;Karskens G, 2003, 'Historical archaeology in the Antipodes - Introduction', HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY, vol. 37, pp. 1 - 5, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000181211100001&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a
    • Karskens G, 2003, 'Revisiting the worldview: The archaeology of convict households in Sydney's rocks neighborhood', Historical Archaeology, vol. 37, pp. 34 - 55, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF03376591
    • Lawrence S;Karskens G, 2003, 'Historical archaeology in the antipodes', Historical Archaeology, vol. 37, pp. 1 - 5, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF03376588
    • Karskens GE, 2003, 'Raising the dead: attitudes to European human remains in the Sydney region c1840-2000', Islands of Vanishment - Historic Environment, vol. 17, pp. 42 - 48
    • Karskens G, 2002, 'Tales of Sydney and the Telling of Sydney Histories', Journal of Urban History, vol. 28, pp. 778 - 792, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0096144202028006006
    • Karskens GE, 2002, 'Islands of vanishment, Port Arthur - Conference report', Phanfare, vol. 190, pp. 9 - 10
    • Karskens GE, 2002, 'Frontier conflict conference, National Museum of Australia', Phanfare, vol. 186, pp. 3 - 4
    • Karskens GE, 2002, 'Engaging artefacts: urban archaeology, museums and the origins of Sydney', Humanities Research, vol. IX, pp. 36 - 56
    • Karskens GE, 2001, 'Review of Marc Serge Riviere (translator and editor), The Governor's Noble Guest: Hyacinthe de Bougainville's Account of Port Jackson 1825', Journal of Australian Colonial History
    • Karskens GE, 2001, 'Voices from the Harbour’s Edge: Memory, Place and the Heritage of Modernity', The Central Coast Geographer, vol. 8, pp. 39 - 47
    • Karskens GE, 2001, 'Banished and reclaimed', Meanjin, pp. 26 - 43
    • Karskens GE, 2000, 'Review of Andrew Brown-May, Melbourne Street Life', Australian Historical Studies, vol. 114, http://web.b.ebscohost.com.wwwproxy0.library.unsw.edu.au/ehost/detail/detail?vid=6&sid=e989e99b-bed1-4559-ac61-5bd0c7765a77@sessionmgr105&hid=125&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#AN=3036286&
    • Karskens GE, 2000, 'Engaging artefacts: urban archaeology, museums and the origins of Sydney', Tasmanian Historical Studies, pp. 39 - 64
    • Karskens GE;Mackay R, 1999, 'Historical archaeology in Australia: historical or hysterical? Crisis or creative awakening:', Australasian Historical Archaeology, vol. 17, pp. 110 - 115
    • Karskens GE, 1998, 'Death was in his Face: Dying, Burial and Remembrance in Early Sydney', Labour History: a journal of labour and social history, vol. 74, pp. 21 - 39
    • Karskens GE, 1997, 'Crossing Over: Reflections of the Integration of History and Archaeology at the Cumberland/Gloucester Street Site, the Rocks 1994-1996', Public History Review, vol. 5-6, pp. 30 - 48
    • Karskens G, 1997, 'The dialogue of townscape: The rocks and Sydney, 1788-1820', Australian Historical Studies, vol. 27, pp. 88 - 112, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10314619708596029
    • Karskens GE, 1995, '`Declining Life: On the Rocks in Sydney'', Australian Cultural History, vol. 14, pp. 63 - 75
    • Karskens GE;Thorp W, 1992, 'Archaeology and History in Sydney: Towards Integration and Interpretation', Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. 78, pp. 52 - 75
    • Karskens GE, 1992, 'Public History, Academic History: The Common Ground', Public History Review, vol. 1, pp. 14 - 25
    • Karskens GE, 1987, 'Kirribilli House Bathing Pool and Early Harbourside Pools in Sydney : A Brief Overview', Australian Society for Historical Archaeology Newsletter - Research Bulletin, pp. 3 - 4
    • Karskens GE, 1986, 'Defiance, Deference and Diligence: Three Views of Convicts in N.S.W. Road Gangs', Australian Journal of Historical Archaeology, vol. 4, pp. 17 - 28, http://www.jstor.org/stable/29543160?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
    • Karskens GE, 1985, 'The Construction of the Great North Road N.S.W., 1826-1936 October, 1985, 102-111', Transactions of the Institution of Engineers - Multidisciplinary, vol. GE 9, pp. 102 - 111
    • Karskens GE, 1984, 'The Convict Road Station Site at Wisemans Ferry : An Historical and Archaeological Investigation', Australian Journal of Historical Archaeology, vol. 2, pp. 17 - 26
    • Karskens GE, 1982, 'As good as any in England - The background to the construction of the Great North Road, N.S.W.', Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. 68, pp. 192 - 204

    Conference Papers

    • Karskens GE, 2006, 'Urban People, Urban Places, Urban Resilience: A paper in honour of Pat Troy', in Vulnerability in Australian Cities: Towards Sustainability and Security, Vulnerability in Australian Cities: A Symposium in Honour of Pat Troy, Brisbane, pp. 1 - 20, presented at Vulnerability in Australian Cities: A Symposium in Honour of Pat Troy, Brisbane, 05 - 05 May 2006, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237620475_Delivered_at_Vulnerability_on_Australian_Cities_Towards_Sustainability_and_Security_a_Public_Symposium_Brisbane_5_May_2006
    • Karskens GE, 2005, 'State of Australian Cities Environment Stream: Rapporteur's Report', in State of Australian Cities 2005, Urban Research Program, Griffith University, Brisbane, pp. 1 - 5, presented at State of Australian Cities 2005, Brisbane, 30 November - 02 December 2005, https://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/81383/environmental-city-rapporteur-report.pdf
    • Karskens GE, 2003, 'The Sydney Gazette and early Sydney: exploring the 'lived' town', in Kirkpatrick R (ed.), Papers from the Australian Newspaper Press Bicentenary Symposium, Australian Newspaper History Group and State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, pp. 34 - 50, presented at Australian Newspaper Press Bicentenary Symposium, Sydney, 01 - 01 January 2003
    • Karskens GE, 2001, 'Crucial Fragments: Archives and Urban Social History', in Proceedings of the Convergence: Joint National Conference of the Australian Society of Archivists and Records Management Association of Australia, NSW Society of Archivists and Records Managements Association of Australia, Hobart, September 2001, presented at Convergence: Joint National Conference of the Australian Society of Archivists and Records Management Association of Australia, Hobart, September 2001, 01 - 01 September 2001
    • Karskens GE, 1988, 'We Thought it was Fantastic! Concord, Sydney in the 1920s', in Bairstow D (ed.), Archaeology of Colonisation: Australia in the World Context, Australian Society for Historical Archaeology, Sydney, pp. 187 - 201, presented at Australian Society for Historical Archaeology Conference, Sydney, 01 - 01 January 1987

    Reports

    • Karskens GE, 1999, The Cumberland/Gloucester Streets Site, The Rocks: Archaeological Investigation Report Volume 2 New Perspectives from the Rocks (Main Report), Godden Mackay Logan P/L, Sydney, The Cumberland/Gloucester Streets Site, The Rocks: Archaeological Investigation Reports, 1

    Other

    Edited Books

Teaching and Supervision

Consultation Times

TBA and by appointment.

Honours and prizes

2011 Best Book 2009-2010 (non-North American), Urban History Association (US)forThe Colony: A History of Early Sydney
2010 Prime Minister’s Literary Award – Non-Fiction, for The Colony: A History of Early Sydney
2010 Elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy for the Humanities
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 TheRocks: Life in Early Sydney

Engagement and Professional contributions

Fellow, Australian Academy for the Humanities
Carson Fellow, Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society
Member, Australian Historical Association
Member, Royal Australian HIstorical Society
Member, HIstory Council of New South Wales
Member, National Trust of Australia (NSW)
Visiting Fellow, National Museum of Australia
Trustee, Sydney Living Museums (Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales (NSW state government appointment, 2008-2016)
Chair, Curatorial and Public Engagement Advisory Committee, Sydney Living Museums
Deputy Chair, The Dictionary of Sydney Inc. (member since 2006)
Member, Editorial Board, Australian Historical Studies
Judge, Coral Thomas Research Award (State Library of New South Wales) 2015
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.
Chair, Environmental City Panel, State of Australian Cities Conference, Brisbane, 2005.
Expert Advisor, Museum of Sydney, Hyde Park Barracks Museum and Susannah Place Museum
Celebrity Speaker, Art Gallery of New South Wales

Related links

Related news

Other information

KEYNOTE ADDRESSES

November 2016 ‘War, law, resistance and massacre: recovering and rethinking frontier conflict on the Hawkesbury-Nepean River 1794-1816’, The Project: History Extension Seminar, Sydney Living

Museums and State Library of New South Wales, Sydney.

October 2016 Lesley Muir Memorial Keynote Address, Royal Australian Historical Society Annual Conference, Wollongong.

March 2016 'Men, women, couples and families on Australia’s first frontier’, Makings of the City conference, Penrith.

February 2015 ‘Men, women, sex and desire: family history on Australia’s first frontier’, 14th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry, Canberra.

August 2012 ‘Seeking Sydney from the ground up’, From the Ground Up: People and Place in Sydney’s Past Conference, Sydney

May 2012 ‘The Settler Evolution: space, place and memory in early colonial Australia’, The Colonies conference, Association for the Study of Australian Literature, Wellington

February 2010, ‘Lachlan and Elizabeth: The Power Couple of the 1810s’ Macquarie Bicentenary Address, Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales and History Council of New South Wales.

June 2008 ‘Lost Geographies of A

PUBLIC LECTURES AND PRESENTATIONS

September 2016, ‘Eora women fisherwomen’, for Jonathan Jones, barangal dyara (skin and bones) (art installation), Kaldor Public Art Projects, Botanic Gardens.

August 2016, ‘All that is solid melts into air: landscapes of loss and resilience at Sydney’s edges’, for Jonathan Jones, Spotfire series, Kaldor Public Art Projects, Australian Museum.

September 2013 ‘Why I Like Bad Art’, Art After Hours Celebrity Talk, Art Gallery of New South Wales.

November 2012 ‘Vanished country: the Penrith Lakes Scheme and the lost world of Castlereagh’,Lunchtime Colloquium, Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Munich.

May 2012, ‘Paradise of Waters: The Art of Sydney Harbour’, floor talk, Art Gallery of New South Wales

April 2012, ‘Shifting the shape of Australian history: convicts, the early colonial period and the making of Australia’, 2012 Allan Martin Public Lecture, Australian National University

March 2012, ‘Secrets of the Rocks’, for Library Up Late: Sydney’s Secrets from the Dictionary of Sydney, Customs House Library, Sydney

March 2012, ‘Learning the new land: Lewin’s ecological eye’, for J. W. Lewin Symposium, State Library of New South Wales

March 2012 ‘People and country at Castlereagh’ for Above and Beyond: 11th Makings of a City History Conference: Penrith City Council, Penrith.

May 2011 ‘Voices from beneath’, presentation for TEDx Sydney, Carriageworks Redfern, online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNOPVgdpVFA

April 2011 ‘Recovering history, colliding with myth: why do true stories matter?’ True Stories: Writing History Symposium, National Library of Australia.

September 2010, ‘A new history of Sydney’, Cities Symposium, University of Sydney,

May 2010 ‘The colony and Sydney Harbour’, Sydney Writers Festival event, S H Ervin Gallery, Sydney.

May 2010 ‘Governor Macquarie and the Public Good’, public lecture, Visions Symposium, History Council of New South Wales, Museum of Sydney

May 2010, ‘The Big House, the Long View’, Historic Houses Trust and Sydney Writers Festival event, The Mint, Sydney.

April 2010, ‘Lachlan and Elizabeth: The Power Couple of the 1810s’, Macquarie 2010 Event, National Trust of NSW (Hunter Region), Newcastle Town Hall.

September 2009, ‘What sort of settlement?’ public lecture for the Blackheath History Forum, Blackheath see http://www.blackheathhistoryforum.org.au/images/stories/karskens.pdf (PDF)

September 2009, ‘The Heritage of Aboriginal Sydney: Placing Lost Histories’, So, What? Public Lecture Series, University of New South Wales online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNN5nlh3pvk

March 2008, ‘Property is too sacred to be taken away…merely at the will of a Governor’: property, authority and rebellion’, paper given at the ‘Rebellion: Authority and Protest in Convict Australia’ Museum of Sydney.

December 2007, ‘Real things from the real past: journeys with artefacts’, paper presented at the National Museum of Australia.

September 2007, ‘Raising the Dead: Attitudes to Human Remains in the Sydney Region 1840-2000’ paper presented to Randwick Historical Society.

September 2006 ‘Urban People, urban places, urban resilience: history, sustainability and the future of our cities’, paper presented at the inaugural Max Kelly Forum Sydney Since the Sixties,

Sydney, 1 September, 2006.

September 2005 ‘The Legend of the Foundational Orgy’, Writing History Day, NSW Writers’ Centre, Rozelle.

September 2003, 'Resurrecting Chapman', paper given for the Historic Houses Trust Lecture Series on Jewish Convicts at the Barracks, Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney.

June 2003 'Archaeological Sydney', talk for NSW History Council and Sydney City Council, 'Whose Sydney?: Reflections on the History and Memory of Sydney', Sydney Town Hall.

May 2001 'Voices from the Water's Edge: Heritage, Modernity and History', public lecture, National Trust of Australia (NSW) Lecture Series