Dr Sitarani Kerin

Position: Research Fellow
Study area: Collaborative Research Centre in Australian History
Location: SMB Campus, Room E113
Phone: 5327 6947
Email: s.kerin@federation.edu.au


Doctor of Philosophy - Australian National University - 2005
Bachelor of Arts (Hons) - Monash University - 1998



Collaborative Research Centre in Australian History (CRCAH)


Convenor, CRCAH HDR Professional Development Seminars


Rani has been researching, teaching, supervising and publishing in Aboriginal history for more than a decade. She is also an experienced researcher and writer of scholarly biographical works. In 2012 her monograph Doctor Do-Good: Charles Duguid and Aboriginal Advancement, 1930s-1960s was shortlisted for the Magarey Medal in biography. She has taught at flagship universities in Australia and New Zealand, and has worked as a research fellow at the National Centre of Biography (The Australian National University), and the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine (University of Sydney). She has been monographs editor for Aboriginal History since 2010 and is an executive member of the Aboriginal History Board. Rani has been working at Federation University since 2013.

Areas of expertise

Rani takes a people-centred approach to history. She has two broad areas of expertise:

1. Aboriginal History: Rani's specialist research area is twentieth-century Aboriginal politics, focusing on the roles that non-Indigenous activists, missionaries and anthropologists have played in campaigns for Aboriginal rights. She has also written about assimilation, Aboriginal identity, and Aboriginal child health.

2. Biography: Endlessly fascinated by questions of motivation, Rani regards biography as one of history's most important and interesting genres. Studying individuals - either singularly or collectively - not only provides new insights into past events, but can offer new perspectives on a range of issues. In her work, Rani has used biography to explore and expose the variety of views that existed on humanitarianism, assimilation, racial mixing and racial difference in Australia.

Research interests

Rani is currently working on two projects:

1. Fifty Year History of Indigenous Programs at Monash University
Rani has been commissioned to write the history of Indigenous programs (research and teaching) at Monash University. Her book will establish the historical, social and political significance of Indigenous programs at Monash University from 1964 to the present. It will document the evolution of Monash's Indigenous programs, locating these within a broader context of changing societal attitudes, government policies, and institutional practices. It will explore the cutting-edge research and teaching conducted by the Centre for Research into Aboriginal Affairs (later the Koorie Research Centre, later the Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies, now the Monash Indigenous Centre and Yulendj Indigenous Engagement Unit), the relationship between the Centre and government, and the life transforming work of the Monash Orientation Scheme for Aborigines. The role of key individuals in the development and operation of these and other initiatives will be a major focus of the work.

2. 'Aboriginal Welfare and Rights Organizations in South Australia'
Rani has been invited to write a chapter for an edited collection on Aboriginal History in South Australia. Considerable scholarly attention has been devoted to organizations for Aboriginal welfare and rights in New South Wales and Victoria. By contrast very little historical attention has been paid to the activities of similar organizations in South Australia. This is despite the fact that South Australia boasts one of the country's longest lasting Aboriginal welfare groups (Aborigines' Friends' Association, 1858-2000); was the birthplace of radical ideas such as the 'Model Aboriginal State' proposal (Aborigines Protection League, 1927); was instrumental in promoting the idea of 'advancement', later adopted by Aboriginal lobby groups around the country (League for the Protection and Advancement of Aboriginal and Half-Caste Women, 1937; Aborigines Advancement League of South Australia, 1946); and played host to the inaugural meeting of the first national lobby group for Aboriginal rights (Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement, 1958). The membership of these organizations was primarily non-Aboriginal, although most had Aboriginal members. During the 1960s, two 'all-Aboriginal' organizations were formed, the Aborigines Progress Association (1964), and the Council of Aboriginal Women of South Australia (1966). Rani's chapter will examine the aims, approaches and major campaigns of these organizations, setting them within a larger national scene of political activity by and on behalf of Aboriginal people.


Current HDR students:

Nicola Cousen, PhD, 'Dr James Stewart: Ulster physician, surgeon and philanthropist in Ballarat'

Robyn Hunter, PhD, 'Of railways and wine and flowers: a biography of George William Knight'

Jenny Debney-Joyce, PhD, 'Dr Fanny Reading - a clever little bird'

Melissa Watts, PhD, 'Women in the Australian Survey Corps during WWII, their work and ongoing legacy in Australian historical study and culture'

Beth Kicinski, PhD, 'Developing Metadata Taxonomies and Vocabularies for History'

Kylie Rippon, PhD, 'Social policy and inter-generational trauma in Victorian Indigenous families . . . is there a connection?'

Rod Nettle, PhD, 'Percy: An Australian in China'

Susan Kruss, MA, 'Ballarat Field-Naturalists'



Kerin, R. (contracted: forthcoming 2016), Fifty Years of Aboriginal Programs at Monash University. Melbourne: Monash University Publishing.

Kerin, R. (2011), Doctor Do-Good: Charles Duguid and Aboriginal Advancement, 1930s-1960s. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing.

Kerin, S. (1999), An Attitude of Respect: Anna Vroland and Aboriginal Rights, 1947-1957. Melbourne: Monash Publications in History.

Book chapters

Kerin, R. (forthcoming 2015), 'A history of changing legislation and attitudes towards British, non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australian children', in J. Boulton (ed.) Aboriginal Children: History, Culture, Health, Oxford: Routledge.

Kerin, R. (2011), 'Becoming Aboriginal in the Era of Assimilation', in A. Holland and B. Brookes (eds.) Rethinking the Racial Moment: Essays on the Colonial Encounter, London: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Kerin, R. (2009), 'Dogging for a living: Aborigines and Undesirables in Central Australia', in B. Attwood and T. Griffiths (eds.) Frontier, Race, Nation: Henry Reynolds & Australian History, Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing.

Refereed journal articles

Kerin, R. (2013), 'Making 'Genuine Friendships' Across Racial Lines: 'Cousin Judy' and her Aboriginal 'Mates'.' Journal of New Zealand Studies. Special edition: Intimacy, Race and Colonial Histories, edited by A. Wanhalla and R. Kerin. Vol. 14, pp. 41-53.

Kerin, R. (2007), 'Mixed up in a bit of do-goodery': Judy Inglis, Activist Anthropology and Aboriginal History', History and Anthropology, Vol. 8/4, pp. 427-442.

Kerin, R. (2006), ''Natives Allowed to Remain Naked': An Unorthodox Approach to Medical Work at Ernabella Mission', Health and History, Vol. 8/1,

Kerin, R. (2005), 'Sydney James Cook/Duguid and the importance of being Aboriginal', Aboriginal History, Vol. 29, pp. 46-63

Kerin, R. (2005), 'Charles Duguid and Aboriginal assimilation in Adelaide, 1950-1960: 'The nebulous assimilation goal'', History Australia, Vol. 2, pp. 85.1-85.17.

Other publications

Kerin, R. (2014), 'Witnessing Australian Stories: History, Testimony and Memory in Contemporary Culture' [Book Review]. Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 45/3, p. 469.

Kerin, R. (2013), 'Our greatest challenge: Aboriginal children and human rights' [Book Review]. Aboriginal History, Vol. 37, pp. 179-180.

Kerin, R. (2013), 'Indifferent Inclusion: Aboriginal People and the Australian Nation' [Book Review]. Journal of Australian Studies, Vol. 37/2, pp. 269-271.

Kerin, R. (2012), 'Outside country: Histories of Inland Australia' [Book Review]. Aboriginal History, Vol. 36, pp. 215-216

Kerin, R. (2012), 'Aboriginal Australians: a history since 1788' [Book Review]. The Journal of Pacific History, Vol. 47/1, pp. 142-143.

Kerin, R. (2012), 'Duguid, Phylllis Eveyln', The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth Century Australia, http://www.womenaustralia.info/leaders/biogs/WLE0189b.htm

Kerin, R. (2012), 'Vroland, Anna Fellowes', The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth Century Australia,http://www.womenaustralia.info/leaders/biogs/WLE0707b.htm

Kerin, R. (2010), 'Possession: Batman's Treaty and the Matter of History' [Book review]. The Journal of Pacific History, Vol .45/1, p.170

Kerin, R. (2008), 'A Cautious Silence: The Politics of Australian Anthropology' [Book Review]. Australian Aboriginal Studies, No. 1, pp.125-126.

Kerin, R. (2007), 'Contesting Assimilation' [Book Review]. History Australia, Vol. 4/1, pp. 25.1-25.2

Kerin, R. (2005), 'Seeking Racial Justice - an Insider's Memoir of the Movement for Aboriginal Advancement, 1938-1978 ; Black and White Together - FCAATSI: The Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders 1958-1973' [Book Review]. Aboriginal History, Vol. 29, pp. 161-162.

Kerin, S. and A. Spaull (2002), 'Vroland, Anna Fellowes (1902-1978)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/vroland-anton-william-rutherford-11928/text21371


  • Professional Historians Association
  • Australian Historical Association
  • Aboriginal History Inc.