Staff profile - Helen Gardner

Staff image

Aprof Helen Gardner

Position: Associate Professor
role description
Faculty or Division: Faculty of Arts & Education
Department: School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Campus: Melbourne Burwood Campus
Phone: +61 3 92517027 +61 3 92517027



Helen's Gardner began her academic career at the University of Otago, New Zealand,  in 2001. In 2002 she was appointed to Deakin University as a lecturer in World History and Pacific History. From 2011 she has been the Honours Convenor for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. She is currently working with the Alfred Deakin Research Institute in the Contemporary History Group where she leads research into contemporary and historical Pacific issues.  In 2012 she became the external editor of the Journal of Pacific History and is a former secretary of the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies.  


  • Bachelor of Arts, La Trobe University, 1994
  • Doctor of Philosophy, La Trobe University, 2001


Teaching Interests

Honours Coordinator School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

Subjects and units currently teaching

The World After the War 1945-1990

Race, Science and Religion in Australasia, 1860-1920

The Decolonisation of Papua New Guinea

Knowledge areas

Pacific History - History of Christian Missions; Colonisation and Decolonisation in the Pacific - local, national and global perspectives; Church and State in the Pacific; Nation building in the Pacific Islands, historical and contemporary perspectives.

History of Anthropology: The history of anthropology in Oceania. Missionary anthropology in Oceania in the nineteenth and twentieth century. The field and the metropole in the spread of anthropological theories. The culture concept in  twentieth century Pacific history. 

Student supervision

Susan Blackwood: Jungle, desert, ice : The Royal Geographical Society Victorian Branch. PhD Awarded 2006.

Kirstie Close Barry: Fijian Methodism, Chiefs, Christ and Culture, Submitting 2013.

Amanda Lourie: History of scientific practice in 1850s and 1860s Victoria. Submitting 2014

Daniel Perri: In search of Australasia, Submitting 2015.

Conferences and seminars

2013: The Australian History Association Conference, Wollongong, Australia

          Theology and the Culture Concept in the Pacific 

2012: Pacific History Association Conference, Wellington, New Zealand

          Theologies of Nation in the decolonisation of the Pacific.

2010: American Anthropology Association Meeting, New Orleans, U.S.A.

          James Unaipon's kinship;

           The descent of kinship in Australia: Lorimer Fison and A. W. Howitt 

Related Links


Research interests

Helen's first book, 'Gathering for God: George Brown in Oceania' was published in 2006 by the University of Otago Press, and was shortlisted for the Ernest Scott History Prize in 2007. Helen is currently working on two major research projects. The first is a book on missionary/anthropology in Oceania with a particular focus on the early study of kinship in the region. The second is a collaborative study on the decolonisation of Melanesia and the role of the churches in the politics of the Pacific.

Research groups

Internationalism in the Pacific: Associate Professor Fiona Paisley, Associate Professor Christopher Waters, Dr Jonathan Ritchie, Dr Geoff Gray, Dr Helen Gardner.

Decolonisation in Melanesia: Associate Professor Christopher Waters, Professor Clive Moore, Professor Judith Bennett, Dr Anne Dixon Waiko, Dr Jonathan Ritchie, Dr Helen Gardner.

Before the Field, Anthropology in Oceania: Dr Robert Kenny, Dr Martin Thomas, Dr Samuel Furphy, Dr Bronwen Douglas, Professor Jane Lydon, Associate Professor Peggy Brock. 

Research page

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