New members appointed to the Rediscovering the Deep Human Past Team

The Rediscovering the Deep Human Past Laureate Program (RDHP) Team is now complete with the recent appointment of Dr Mike Jones as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Mike will be starting with us on 1 July.

Earlier in the year, Josh Newham and Neil Brougham were awarded special RDHP Laureate PhD scholarships. Both have already been involved in team meetings and doctoral training workshops, while also undertaking preliminary research for their PhD theses.

We’d like to introduce them.

Mike Jones is an historian, archivist, and collections consultant. In December 2018 he completed his History PhD at the University of Melbourne’s School of Historical and Philosophical Studies. His thesis, Documenting artefacts and archives in the relational museum, is an interdisciplinary exploration of the interconnectedness of archives and museum collections, and the recent history of how collections-based knowledge (particularly related to anthropological and ethnographic collections) is conceptualised, captured, and managed by large collecting institutions.

Prior to joining ANU Mike spent more than a decade at the eScholarship Research Centre, working on and leading community-focused projects related to the history of science, archival description, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and data, digital humanities, and digital public history. During this time he has been actively involved in archival, museum, and digital humanities communities, and has published and presented widely in Australia and internationally.

On his appointment, Mike said “I am thrilled to be joining the Rediscovering the Deep Human Past Program, and look forward to working with a great team. I’m particularly interested in working with communities to explore how digital technologies can be used to capture and represent complex historical narratives, expanding and deepening the scale and scope of Australian history in innovative, exciting ways.”

Josh Newham is an historian, poet, artist and educator with a background in community work and outdoor education. A recent Honours graduate of La Trobe University in Melbourne, his thesis was an interdisciplinary analysis of the contact narratives of early exploration in the Southern Blue Mountains. This research in turn provided various hints of pre-1788 connections between Aboriginal cultures across the South East of New South Wales; from the Burragorang Valley in the Blue Mountains to the Monaro Plains and Snowy Mountains in the South, and from the Great Dividing Range in the West to the Pacific Coast. Mapping the various pathways of these connections has become the goal of Josh’s doctoral thesis and he is in the process of building networks and relationships with Aboriginal organisations, community and family historians and landholders across these regions.

Prior to joining ANU Josh travelled and lived in various areas of Australia’s East coast, including several years spent in the ACT. His undergraduate and Honours years at La Trobe University combined research in History, Creative Writing, Literature Studies and a Diploma of Languages (Spanish).

He is particularly interested in writing histories and narratives of place, and is excited to explore new and creative methodologies for the writing of Deep History. “As an historian, the RDHP Laureate Program is a dream come true for me. There is nowhere else I would prefer to be, and no other work I would prefer to be doing. The Program, and Deep History as a practice more generally, provides the opportunity to engage respectfully with Aboriginal cultures, their knowledge and their ongoing history of connection to place in the land we call Australia. I’m honoured and excited to have the opportunity to do so”, Josh added.

Neil Brougham is another of the RDHP Laureate Program’s PhD scholars. Prior to commencing in the RDHP Laureate Program, Neil worked as a liaison officer with the Northern Land Council, working with the Aboriginal community of Kakadu National Park. Prior to this Neil was a Park Ranger for six years; first in various locations across South Australia, then a three-year stint as Chief Ranger of Millstream-Chichester National Park in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Neil also did other miscellaneous things: working as an English teacher in South Korea and studying ethnobotany in South America, among others.

Neil has a strong interest in mythology as it appears in its many forms globally, but in particular in Australia. His doctoral thesis builds on from his recently completed Honours thesis (Flinders University), looking at the way in which Aboriginal mythology can be utilised as primary data for historical reconstruction. Specifically, Neil’s thesis will focus on the mythological canon of Pilbara Aboriginal nations and the manner in which this canon records and expresses the spiritual, social, environmental, and political development of this region over time.

On his appointment, Neil said “I am very excited to join the RDHP Program and begin articulating ideas that have preoccupied my thinking now for several years”.