Andrea Gaynor

Associate Professor, BA PhD W.Aust.

  • The University of Western Australia (M204), 35 Stirling Highway, Room 1.03, Arts Building, Crawley campus

    6009 Perth


  • 127 Citations
  • 5 h-Index
If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile


Andrea was born during the turbulent Whitlam years. At primary school she played the violin and was fascinated by the germination of seeds. In high school she played some mediocre cricket and hockey, but excelled in the bloodthirsty sport of fencing. Leaving school with good marks, an interest in chemistry and literature, and a passion for the environment and social justice, she decided to commence an Arts degree. After studying in areas from environmental science to law to desktop publishing, working nights and weekends as a waitress, she found a home in environmental history. In 2001 she finished writing a PhD thesis and rode her bicycle through China, Laos and Cambodia before returning to lecture in Australian History at UWA.

Roles and responsibilities

- Chair, History Discipline Group, UWA
- Convenor, Australian and New Zealand Environmental History Network
- Convenor, Ecology, People, Place (EcoPeoPle) Research Group
- Director, Centre for Western Australian History
- Steering Committee member, The Beeliar Group of Professors for Environmental Responsibility

- Urban environmental history
- Water history
- Animals in history
- History of fish and fishing
- Agricultural history
- Western Australian environmental history

Future research

• Wild cities: an environmental history of nature in urban modernity 1880-2010
• Comparing historical approaches to nature's diversity in South Africa and Western Australia
• A history of Landcare in Western Australia

Funding overview

• Andrea Gaynor; Lionel Frost; Jenny Gregory; Ruth Morgan; Martin Shanahan; Peter Spearritt, ARC Discovery – Projects DP180100807 Water and the making of urban Australia since 1900
• Katie Holmes, Richard Broome, Andrea Gaynor, Charles Fahey, Ruth Ford, 2012 ARC Discovery – Projects Changing landscapes, changing people: Australia's southern mallee lands, 1830 - 2012, $613,000
• Jo Lindsay, Seamus O’Hanlon, Lionel Frost, Andrea Gaynor, Jenny Gregory, Peter Spearritt, Meredith Dobbie, Kelly Fielding. 2012 CRC for Water Sensitive Cities Project A2.2 Understanding social processes to achieve water sensitive futures, $100,000.
• Richard Hobbs, Andrea Gaynor, 2011 UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Professor-at-large scheme $17,500
• Joint Chief Investigator on ARC Linkage – Infrastructure, Equipment, Facilities Grant 2011: $600 000 for ‘Establishment of the Australian data archive: an integrated research facility for the social sciences and humanities’.
• Project team member on Australian Learning and Teaching Council Grant, 2010-2011: $135 000 for ‘Engineering Education for Social and Environmental Justice’.
• Lotterywest Gordon Reid Conservation of Natural Heritage Grant (through WWF) 2007, $31,695 for historical component of ‘Toward Woodland Recovery’
• UWA Research Grant Scheme 2006, with Assoc. Prof. Ian McLean (Fine Arts): $29 100 for a Pilot Ecological Art History of the Swan River Region, 1827-1950
• Co-recipient of grant from Humanities and Social Sciences Research Program 2003, with Prof. David Trigger and Dr. Jane Mulcock, Anthropology: $14 800 for a research project: ‘Nature, culture and belonging in regional Australia’.
• UWA Research Grant Scheme 2002: $14 630 for a research project entitled ‘Environmental history of suburban food production in Perth and Melbourne 1880-2000’.

Previous positions

2016 Visiting Fellow, School of History, ANU Canberra
2015 Carson Fellow, Rachel Carson Center for Environment & Society, LMU Munich
2010 Deputy Head of the School of Humanities (Research and Research Training), UWA
2007 Discipline Chair, History, UWA
2004 Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (Teaching and Learning), UWA

Current projects

- environmental history of the southern mallee lands
- environmental history and emotions in Australian urban wildlife encounters
- history of Landcare in WA
- history of urban agriculture in Australia

Industrial relevance

• Understanding how human-environment relationships operate and change is essential for the creation of ecologically sustainable societies.
• History of urban agriculture informs current local government, community and NGO initiatives in this area.
• History of urban wild nature informs current urban greening and conservation initiatives
• History of Landcare informs current renewal strategy

Teaching overview

I currently teach units in Australian history, environmental history, urban history and historiography. I supervise MA and PhD candidates and Honours students in the areas of Australian and environmental history.


I am primarily an environmental historian, and while I have pursued various questions relating to the historical relationships between the human and non-human, I have always remained concerned with understanding three main questions: what factors have shaped human dealings with the natural world? How have people changed the environment? And how has environmental change (anthropogenic or otherwise) affected people’s lives? My research is also relevant to a range of other fields, including Australian studies, urban history, cultural history, gender history, and cultural heritage. To some extent, the strength of my research, taken as a whole, lies in its breadth rather than specialisation, as I am often seeking to derive new understandings, ask new questions and answer open ones by bringing approaches and knowledges from one area to bear on another, especially across the humanities/science divide.


  • Environmental History
  • Urban History
  • Human-Animal Relations
  • Economic History
  • Agricultural History
  • Australian history
  • Environmental history
  • Ecological history
  • Urban history
  • Western Australian history

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 1998 2019

Drought, Mud, Filth, and Flood: Water Crises in Australian Cities, 1880s–2010s

Gaynor, A., Cook, M., Frost, L., Gregory, J., Morgan, R., Shanahan, M., Spearritt, P., Avey, S., Etherington, N., Gralton, E. & Martin, D. J., 2019, Environment & Society Portal, 3.

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationFeatured article

Open Access
nineteenth century
environmental history

George Seddon: Selected Writings

Gaynor, A., 2019, Melbourne: Black Inc.

Research output: Book/ReportEdited book/Anthology

George Seddon
History of Science

Leonardo da Vinci revisited: was he an environmentalist ahead of his time?

Broomhall, S. & Gaynor, A., 1 Apr 2019, The Conversation.

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Open Access
Natural World
Leonardo Da Vinci

Mallee Country: Land, People, History

Broome, R., Fahey, C., Gaynor, A. & Holmes, K., 2019, Australia: Monash University Publishing.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

indigenous population
dust storm

Projects 2003 2020

Water and the Making of Urban Australia: a history since 1900

Gaynor, A., Gregory, J., Frost, L., Morgan, R., Shanahan, M. & Spearitt, P.

Australian Research Council


Project: Research

Project A2.1 : Understanding social processes to achieve water sensitive futures

Gaynor, A., Gregory, J., Lindsay, J., Fielding, K., Dobbie, M., O'Hanlan, S., Frost, L. & Spearitt, P.

Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities


Project: Research

Changing landscapes, changing people: Australia's southern mallee lands, 1830 - 2012

Gaynor, A., Holmes, K., Broome, R., Fahey, C. & Ford, R.

Australian Research Council


Project: Research