Jane Lydon

Professor, MA PhD ANU

  • The University of Western Australia (M204), 35 Stirling Highway, Room 1.19, Arts Building, Crawley campus

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Jane Lydon was born and raised in Brisbane, Queensland. She graduated from the University of Sydney with a B.A. with Honours in Archaeology in 1986, and spent a decade working on a range of sites and projects including as Archaeologist for the Sydney Cove Authority which owned and managed the Rocks area of Sydney, for the inaugural Museum of Sydney on the site of First Government House, and for the Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area on Norfolk Island. She returned to academia to complete her MA at the Australian National University in 1996, a study of the Chinese community in the Rocks which won the ANU’s Crawford Medal and was published ‘as is’. One reviewer concluded that ‘this is the future of historical archaeology’ (Praetzellis, HA 1996). Her PhD (ANU, 2001), was an historical anthropological study of Indigenous visual politics, subsequently published as Eye Contact (Duke University Press, 2005). She took up a lectureship at La Trobe University, and was then awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at Monash University in 2003. She was awarded a Future Fellowship in 2011, moved to UWA in 2013, where she was appointed to the inaugural Wesfarmers Chair in Australian History in 2014.

Her research continues to centre upon Australia’s colonial past and its legacies in the present. She is interested in the ways that popular and especially visual culture has shaped ideas and debates about race, identity and culture that persist today. In particular, she is concerned with the history of Australia’s engagement with anti-slavery, humanitarianism, and ultimately human rights. With colleagues, she is currently exploring two questions: first, the Australian legacies of the British anti-slavery movement, by tracing the movement of people, capital and culture from the Caribbean to the settler colonial world; second, the ways that Australian citizenship has been defined and contested through visual culture.

New and Noteworthy

Teaching overview

Coordinator in 2021: 

• Looking for Australia (HIST2015)

• Who do we think we are? Doing Family History (HIST2021)



Cultural history of human rights, humanitarianism and empire

Australian Legacies of British Slavery

Australian colonial visual cultures

Heritage: the colonial past in the present


(CI) 'Western Australian Legacies of British Slavery' (with Martens, J., Arthur, P., Laidlaw, Z., Hall, C., McClelland, K. & Lester, A.) (ARC DP200100094 2020-2022)

(CI) 'Envisaging Citizenship: Australian Histories and Global Connections' (with A. Nettelbeck, M.Miles and F.Anderson) (ARC DP200100088 2020-2022)

(Associate Partner) ‘Digital Heritage in Cultural Conflicts’, JPICultural Heritage, Digital Heritage, Led by Prof Gil Pasternak, Photographic History Research Centre, De Montfort University, UK.(€550,000, 2018-2020)

(CI, Australian Academy of the Humanities) ‘The Future Humanities Workforce’, (ARC Learned Academies Special Project, 2017-2019)

Roles and responsibilities

• Editorial Board, Reviews Editor, Australian Historical Studies (2018-2021)

• Editorial Board, Labour History (2021-)

• Advisory Board, Limina: A Journal of Historical and Cultural Studies. Postgraduate-run. (2016-)

• Editorial Board, History of Photography (2016-2021)

• Editorial Board, Australasian Historical Archaeology

Research expertise keywords

  • Australian History
  • Photography
  • Emotions
  • Visual Culture
  • Humanitarianism
  • Human Rights


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