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School of Arts

Paul Michael Donovan

Position: Sessional Lecturer/Tutor
Study area: Humanities and Social Sciences
Location: Mt Helen Campus, Room B906


Masters of Cultural Heritage - 2015

Bachelor of Arts (History/ Anthropology) - 2013 - Deakin University

Certificate III Tourism (Operations) - 2007 University of Ballarat



  • Bachelor of Arts


  • Western Civilisation in World History (HISOC1005)
  • History, Folklore and Urban Legend (HISOC2106)
  • Accommodating Minorities in Australia (BAXDC2894/3894)
  • Indigenous History (HISOC1002)


Paul Michael Donovan is an Ethnohistorian and PhD candidate working in the School of Business and the Faculty of Arts. Paul Michael came to Federation University Australia in 2014 after completing his Masters in Cultural Heritage at Deakin. Paul Michael is a member of the Professional Historians Association (PHA) and the History Teacher’s Association of Victoria (HTAV). Paul Michael has presented at numerous conferences and public talks, and has published in the Victorian Historical Journal. Paul Michael also works in Museums and believes in bringing education to life with artefacts, replicas of historical objects, models, props, costumes and role playing performances.

Areas of expertise

Paul Michael is predominantly an Ethnohistorian working across a variety of areas. He has worked with Indigenous communities on collections of archaeological and ethnographic material, and conducted archival research to illuminate the intercultural nuances of frontier contact and collecting of natural and cultural specimens in the colonial frontier. Paul Michael has also published studies on colonial figures who interacted with Indigenous cultures such as William Buckley and J.T. Gellibrand. Along with this, he has broad interests in other facets of social and cultural life which are demonstrated in the publications. Paul Michael's research interests can be slotted into three categories:

Objects, culture and identity

The objects collected and displayed by museums tells us as much about the cultures who collected the objects, what their values were, how they understood their world and the people and objects in it. It is essential in a post-colonial world to re-examine cultural material in collections through new lenses to offer a depth of cultural meaning from source cultures as well as collecting cultures. From this we may highlight the nexus of the interactions between cultures and build cultural bridges between identity groups.

History and Historiography

It is essential to examine the biases, perspectives, and techniques of the study of any culture, current or historical, to highlight narrative biases, subjugated voices, or subaltern narratives which may serve to deepen our understanding of our own culture and of those around us.

Australian societies and multiculturalism

Paul Michael has a strong commitment to understanding Australian societies and communities and their needs and equity concerns. By focusing on Indigenous and multicultural issues in Australian History, Paul Michael aims to continue working with communities on important issues to ensure that the forgotten voices are heard in mainstream culture.

Research interests

  • Museum collections
  • Tourism education and colonial 'Dark Tourism/ Thanatourism'
  • World History
  • Cultural sociology
  • Teaching sociology

PhD Research

Encountering and Collecting: An examination of 19th century Victorian Indigenous collections, antiquarianism and tourism. Federation University Australia. School of Business. IN PROGRESS.


Book chapters

“The Goldfields and the Gothic: The Dark and Forgotten Folklore of the Victorian Goldfields” Anthology. Collaborative work – Dr. David Waldron, Federation University.

Refereed journal articles

“The remarkable disappearance of Messrs Gellibrand and Hesse’ - what really happened in 1837?: a re-examination of the historical evidence.” Published in Victorian Historical JournalVolume 87 Issue 2 (Dec 2016)

“Contrasting Collections: a comparative analysis of the collections politics of the R.E. Johns Indigenous Artefact Collection and the W.L. Koenig Indigenous Artefact Collection” A comparative analysis of indigenous relations in the collecting and collections management of indigenous artefacts. Masters Research Paper.

“AIX707 Qualitative Research Methodology: Research Report” A report on data and analysis of conclusions from a series of interviews with professional historians and anthropologists about their research in Indigenous studies.

Refereed conference proceedings

“The Rise and Rebirth of the Drover Myth” Conference paper for The 2014 Humanities Postgraduate Conference to be Published in the Journal from Curtin University associated with the conference.

“Buckley’s Bunyip” An Ethno-Historical study of the development of the Bunyip myth through history, from a local Indigenous myth to an Australian cliché. To be published in the Journal of Cryptozoology.

25 October 2013 Annotated Bibliography of the History of William Buckley and Colonial Indigenous Relations Pertaining to Wathaurong Mythology.

18-20 June 2014POPCAANZ 2014 Presentation - “The Rugged and the Egalitarian: Contrasting themes of the Colonialism in United States and Australian Examples of the Western Genre”.


June 2018 – Tales From Rat City, Episode 7: Buckley’s Chance. I was interviewed about my research on Convict William Buckley and his experiences living among the Wadawurrung people prior to the permanent colonial establishment of Victoria.

February 2018 – Tales From Rat City, Episode 5, Call of the Bunyip. Spoke on Local Indigenous folklore, mythology, and presented research on local colonial history.

July 2017 – Tales from Rat City Episode 2: “All the Mischief Ah Coon is capable of doing” – with Dr. David Waldron. I was commissioned as a historical interpreter reading a voice over part from a primary source of Governor Reports. The finished product was published as a podcast, which is part of an ongoing series on the history of Ballarat, titled Tales from Rat City, and is available at, where I am credited in the cast.

December 2016 – The Folklore Podcast – Season 1 - Episode 2:  Bunyip: Devil of the Riverbed. I was asked to speak as a guest speaker for the British Folklore Podcast regarding my recent Research on the Indigenous mythology of the Bunyip.


  • The Professional Historians Association
  • History Teachers Association of Victoria
  • Centre for Collaborative Research in Australian History