Alfred Deakin Research Institute


ADRI Staff (2014)

On the 1st January 2015, the Alfred Deakin Research Institute merged with the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation to create the Alfred Deakin Research Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADRI-CG). For information about the new Institute, including staff and membership, please visit

A/Prof Helen Gardner

A/Prof Helen Gardner

Position: Associate Professor in History
Phone: +61 3 925 17027
Campus: B


University recorded publications

Researcher output profile for A/Prof Helen Gardner

Brief Biography

Helen Gardner is a Senior Lecturer in the History Stream of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. She has a particular interest in the analysis, promotion or denigration of ‘culture’ in nineteenth and twentieth century Oceania, which links the two seemingly disparate strands of her research.

In 2012 Helen Gardner has been finishing her manuscript on nineteenth century anthropology in the Pacific and Australian colonies: Finding Kin: The writing of ‘Kamilaroi and Kurnai’.

Essentially a biography of a book, Finding Kin follows the conception and writing then reception and influence of Kamilaroi and Kurnai (1880) co-authored by Methodist missionary Lorimer Fison and Gippsland magistrate Alfred William Howitt. Based on extensive primary research and set firmly within the broader anthropological context of the latter part of the 19th century, Finding Kin examines the collection of kinship material in Australia and Melanesia then traces through publication of the book and finally the deployment of this material in both denigrating and celebratory registers by social theorists in Britain and America. One of the most important examples was Friedrich Engels’ use of Kamilaroi and Kurnai as a source for his celebration of ‘primitive’ promiscuity in the fourth edition of his influential essay The Origin of the Family.

Helen Gardner’s second strand of research is on the post war Christian mission ‘turn’ to culture in the Pacific Islands as the decolonisation of the region coincided with post war internationalism and new theologies demanded the gospel be acknowledged in distinct cultural settings. This research is part of a larger project on the decolonisation of Melanesia which includes the ADRI affiliated staff: Dr Jonathan Ritchie and Dr Christopher Waters. A special issue on decolonisation in Melanesia edited by Helen Gardner and Christopher Waters is set for publication in the Journal of Pacific History in early 2013. Gardner’s article is titled ‘Praying for Independence, the Presbyterian Church in the decolonisation of Vanuatu’.

A book chapter was also published this year titled ‘Defending Friends: Robert Codrington, George Sarawia and Edward Wogale’, in K. Fullagar (ed), The Atlantic World in the Antipodes: Effects and Transformations since the Eighteenth Century, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle Upon Tyne, 2012, pp. 146-166.

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4th February 2015