Rebe Taylor

UTAS Home Associate Professor Rebe Taylor

Rebe Taylor

Senior Research Fellow
College of Arts, Law and Education

Arts Building, Newnham Campus

Rebe Taylor took on the role as Senior Research Fellow at the College of Arts, Law and Education in April 2018. She is an award-winning historian with more than twenty years of experience researching and writing the histories of southeast Australian indigenous peoples and European settlement for academic and literary publications, web resources and museum spaces. Until early 2018, Rebe held the inaugural Coral Thomas Fellow at State Library NSW. She has also held numerous Fellowships at The University of Melbourne and Kings College London.

Rebe's most recent book, Into the Heart of Tasmania, published by Melbourne University Press, won the 2018 Tasmanian Book Prize, the 2018 Queensland Premier’s Award for history, and the inaugural Joan and Dick Family Green Award for Tasmanian History.


Rebe graduated from The University of Melbourne with a Master of Arts in History in 1996 and wrote her first book, Unearthed: The Tasmanian Aborigines of Kangaroo Island (Wakefield Press, 2002, 2008) while completing her PhD at the Australian National University (awarded 2004). Unearthed won numerous prizes, including 2003 South Australian and Victorian Premiers’ Awards, and was shortlisted for the Ernest Scott Prize for history.

Rebe was awarded an ARC Discovery Fellowship DP0664448 From Race to the Genome: the Tasmanian Aboriginal People within the Scientific Imagination, 2006-2013, The University of Melbourne. In 2008, she took up the Foundation Fellowship at the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, Kings College London, and in 2010 taught postcolonial and indigenous histories at The University of Melbourne.

Rebe's work as a historian goes beyond the academy, especially in the field of digital and public history. This work collaborates and engages with Indigenous communities and across disciplines. Rebe is a co-creator of the award-winning web resource, Stories in Stone: an annotated history and guide to the collections and papers of Ernest Westlake (1855-1922), published in 2013 with the University of Oxford and the eScholarship Research Centre at The University of Melbourne where Rebe is an Honorary Fellow.

Rebe’s research as Coral Thomas Fellow at State Library NSW from 2016-2018, looked into the life and collections of John Helder Wedge (1793-1872). It resulted in an substantial essay in Meanjin magazine and will soon be published in a new web resource.

Career summary


Degree Title of Thesis UniversityCountryAwarded
PhD Island Echoes: Two Tasmanian Aboriginal Histories The Australian National University Australia 17/12/2004
MA Sticking to the Land - A History of Exclusion on Kangaroo Island, 1827-1996 The University of Melbourne Australia 23/03/1997
BA with First Class honours White Savages and Black Slaves: Myths of the Maritime Frontier; Bass Strait and Kangaroo Island, 1800-1836 The University of Melbourne Australia 01/11/1991


Professional practice

  • Honorary Fellow, eScholarship Research Centre, The University of Melbourne.
  • Member, Australian Historical Association.
  • Matriculated member, University of Oxford
  • Life member, St Cross College, University of Oxford
  • Life member, William Goodenough College, London

Administrative expertise

Rebe has experience in instigating, leading and managing research projects that are cross-institutional, interdisciplinary and international and that have sophisticated written and web-based outcomes, such as Stories in Stone and The Wedge Collection.

In 2014 Rebe was a national co-editor of Find & Connect , a multi-million Commonwealth-funded resource. She helped manage of a team of fifteen historians and to work alongside archivists and social welfare academics.


Australian history, Indigenous history, Historiography, Museum and cultural studies, Postcolonial studies

Teaching expertise

Rebe has taught in Australian studies, Indigenous history and postcolonial histories. She has shared her experiences working in public, professional and digital history with students in various invited workshops and lectures and invitations. Rebe’s ability as an effective communicator has developed across a long career from actor to academic that includes presenting history on television, radio, online, in public lectures, writers’ festivals and in museum interpretation.

Research Appointments

Rebe’s research appointments have included:

View more on Dr Rebe Taylor in WARP


  • Indigenous History
  • Australian History
  • History of anthropology and archaeology.
  • Biography
  • Digital history and archiving
  • Genocide studies

Rebe’s research focuses on the histories of colonisation and of Indigenous diaspora and endurance. She has a particular interest in the ways these histories are recorded and remembered in museum collections, archives and by Indigenous communities. Rebe has focussed on these questions within south eastern Australia, especially Tasmania, but she is increasingly interested in looking at international comparisons between Indigenous peoples who have endured despite being declared ‘extinct’. This will mean extending her contributions to the histories of science, colonial governance, genocide studies and memory studies.

Rebe has a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to her research. She works with cultural informatics experts, librarians, archivists and Indigenous community members to explore how digitised collections of cultural objects and historical records can be published in ways that are durable and discoverable, linked and annotated, transcribed and imaged, and respectful of Indigeneous voices and protocols.

Research Themes

Rebe’s research aligns to the University of Tasmania’s research themes of Creativity, Culture and Society and Data, Knowledge and Decisions. Rebe has long worked collaboratively with the Tasmanian Aboriginal and other south-eastern Australian Indigenous communities and across the disciplines of history, archiving and digital informatics. She aims to bring historical records and their related stories to life in ways that engages with the academy and beyond to extend the knowledge of histories of colonisation and science and of Indigenous resilience and endurance. Her upcoming research includes an international comparative history of Indigenous communities who endured and enriched their cultures and languages despite devastating histories of colonisation that lead to them being deemed (mistakenly) as ‘extinct’. This project will engage collaboratively with Indigenous communities, collecting institutions and digital informatics experts to produce scholarly and public facing outcomes that ensure the long term discoverability and preservation of significant historical records, scholarly insight and Indigenous culture. It will develop innovative technological approaches in order to respect cultural protocols around sensitive cultural knowledge and information.


Rebe is collaborating with the eScholarship Research Centre at the University of Melbourne, with the State Library of New South Wales, the University of Melbourne, the State Library Victoria and with the University of Oxford.



  • 2016-2018 Coral Thomas Fellow, State Library of New South Wales ($75,000)
  • 2015 Peter Blazey Fellow, Australian Centre, The University of Melbourne ($15,000)
  • 2008 Foundation Fellow, Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, Kings College London (£10,000)
  • 2006-2013 ARC Discovery Postdoctoral Fellow (sole recipient) DP0664448 From Race to the Genome: the Tasmanian Aboriginal People within the Scientific Imagination, 2006-2013 hosted by the Australian Centre, The University of Melbourne ($290,000)


  • 2018 Shortlisted, Joan and Dick Green Family Award for Tasmanian History
  • 2017 Winner, Tasmania Book Prize, Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Awards
  • 2017 Winner, University of Southern Queensland History Book Award, Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards
  • 2013 Winner, Mander Jones Award for best finding aid to an archival collection held by an Australian institution or about Australia
  • 2004 Winner, Victorian Premier’s Award for a first book of history
  • 2004 Winner, Canberra Critics Circle Award for Literature
  • 2003 Winner, South Australian Premier’s Award for non-fiction
  • 2003 Shortlisted, Ernest Scott History Prize
  • 2003 Shortlisted, Nita B. Dobbie prize for Women’s Writing

Fields of Research

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History (210301)
  • Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History) (210303)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Information and Knowledge Systems (080601)
  • European History (excl. British, Classical Greek and Roman) (210307)

Research Objectives

  • Understanding Australia's Past (950503)
  • Conserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage (950302)
  • Understanding Europe's Past (950504)
  • Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology (970121)
  • Understanding the Past of the Americas (950506)


Book Cover | Into the Heart of Tasmania, MUP, 2017Unearthed, Wakefield Press, 2004, 2008The quality of Rebe’s research publications has been recognised through some of the most prestigious prizes in Australia for history including four Premiers’ Literary Awards. Rebe has a strong reputation for both high quality scholarly research outputs and for public history projects underpinned by strong community engagement activities which ensure their wide impact.

Rebe’s publications include two multi-award-winning scholarly monographs (Into the Heart of Tasmania, MUP, 2017 and Unearthed, Wakefield Press, 2004, 2008), an award-winning web resource (Stories in Stone) ten articles (seven in high-ranking journals) and three chapters in books edited by leading scholars. Five of Rebe’s articles and all three of her chapters were commissioned, one for a special edition of Oceania.

Rebe’s publications contribute to the fields of Australian social, cultural and Indigenous history, life writing and memory and the histories of anthropology and archaeology. They also cross into the disciplines of archiving, digital history, museum studies and genocide studies. Each one of Rebe’s publications was precisely aimed to extend particular fields of scholarship, and indeed each has been well regarded by scholars in those fields.

Total publications


Journal Article

(6 outputs)
2017Taylor R, 'The wedge collection and the conundrum of humane colonisation', Meanjin, 76, (4, Summer 2017) pp. 34-55. ISSN 0025-6293 (2017) [Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]


2013Taylor R, 'Genocide, extinction and Aboriginal self-determination in Tasmanian historiography', History Compass, 11, (6) pp. 405-418. ISSN 1478-0542 (2013) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/hic3.12062 [eCite] [Details]


2012Taylor R, 'The national confessional', Meanjin, 71, (3, Spring 2017) pp. 22-36. ISSN 0025-6293 (2012) [Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]

Citations: Web of Science - 2


2012Taylor R, 'A Journey of 13,033 stones: the Westlake Collection and Papers', Collections, 8, (1) pp. 7-37. ISSN 1550-1906 (2012) [Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]


2008Taylor R, 'The polemics of making fire in Tasmania: the historical evidence revisited', Aboriginal History, 32 pp. 1-26. ISSN 0314-8769 (2008) [Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]


2007Taylor R, 'The polemics of eating fish in Tasmania: the historical evidence revisited', Aboriginal History, 31 pp. 1-26. ISSN 0314-8769 (2007) [Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]



(2 outputs)
2017Taylor R, 'Into the heart of Tasmania: A search for human antiquity', Melbourne University Publishing Limited, Carlton, Vic, pp. 204. ISBN 9780522867961 (2017) [Authored Research Book]

[eCite] [Details]


2008Taylor R, 'Unearthed: The Aboriginal Tasmanians of Kangaroo Island', Wakefield Press, South Australia, pp. 400. ISBN 9781862547988 (2008) [Authored Research Book]

[eCite] [Details]


Chapter in Book

(2 outputs)
2014Taylor R, ' All I know is history': memory and land ownership in the Dudley District, Kangaroo Island', History, power, text: cultural studies and Indigenous studies, UTSePress, T Neale, C McKinnon, and E Vincent (ed), Broadway, NSW, pp. 70-90. ISBN 978-0-9872369-1-3 (2014) [Research Book Chapter]

DOI: 10.5130/978-0-9872369-1-3 [eCite] [Details]


2012Taylor R, 'Reliable Mr Robinson and the controversial Dr Jones', Reading Robinson: companion essays to George Robinson's friendly mission, Monash University Publishing, A Johnston and M Rolls (ed), Clayton, Vic ISBN 978-1-921867-30-9 (2012) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]



(1 outputs)
2018Taylor R, 'A shocking new history? The question of historiography, invasion and genocide in Nick Brodie's The Vandemonian War', Journal of Genocide Research, 20, (3) pp. 451-456. ISSN 1462-3528 (2018) [Review Single Work]

DOI: 10.1080/14623528.2018.1486306 [eCite] [Details]


Rebe has been awarded some of the most competitive grants offered to humanities research: an ARC Discovery Fellowship, and range of other prestigious grants and scholarships from The University of Melbourne, the State Library New South Wales and the Menzies Centre of Australian Studies, Kings College London.

Research Supervision

Rebe is new to UTAS. She will consider supervising postgraduate students in the areas of Australian and other social and cultural histories, Indigenous and colonial histories and museum and cultural studies.




MastersAboriginal Philosophy and Community2019
MastersIndigenous Museology2019
MastersHolding Tasmanian Colonial Administrations to Account: Gilbert Robertson (editor of The Colonist and the True Colonist) and the administrations of Lt.Gov. George Arthur and Lt.Gov. Sir John Franklin2019
MastersThe Life and Legacy of Charlie Dennison 1845 -1956. My Paternal Great Grand Father Lived Through Colonisation and Ongoing Government Policies. How did he Live for so Long and What was the Secret to his Resilience? What Legacy has he Left Behind for his Gomeroi People and Beyond?2019