Dr André Brett
Vice-Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow in History
André Brett is a Vice-Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow in History. He came to Wollongong via New Zealand’s Kāpiti Coast, southeast Queensland, and Victoria’s great metropolis Melbourne. His interest in trans-Tasman and Australasian history reflects this background. The University of Melbourne conferred his PhD in 2014; at that institution, he taught for six years, held a Gilbert Postdoctoral Career Development Fellowship in the Faculty of Arts, and was a research fellow in Chancellery.
André’s research emphasises the political, economic, environmental, and transport histories of New Zealand and Australia. He takes a particular interest in the role of railways in shaping Britain’s seven Australasian settler colonies, and in the formation, evolution, and demise of institutions. He recently published Acknowledge No Frontier: The Creation and Demise of New Zealand’s Provinces, 1853–76 (Otago University Press, 2016) and maintains a strong passion for provincial-era New Zealand. He has researched for television documentaries, with his research most notably appearing in Australia: The Story of Us (Channel 7, 2015) and The Ghan: Australia’s Greatest Train Journey (SBS, 2018).
André also researches within the field of genocide studies. He has published on colonial genocide in the South Pacific, specifically the Moriori genocide on the Chatham Islands. He taught genocide studies at the University of Melbourne, with particular emphasis on post-colonial African genocides.
Since 2014, André has worked within the fields of higher education public policy and history. He has co-authored two monographs with Stuart Macintyre and Gwilym Croucher, Life After Dawkins: The University of Melbourne in the Unified National System of Higher Education (Melbourne University Publishing, 2016) and No End of a Lesson: Australia’s Unified National System of Higher Education (Melbourne University Publishing, 2017). As part of a research collaboration of scholars from the Universities of California and Melbourne, he co-authored a report with William B. Lacy, Gwilym Croucher, and Romina Mueller, Australian Universities at a Crossroads: Insights From Their Leaders and Implications for the Future (Centre for the Study of Higher Education, 2017).
André is also an avid live music fan. Stop by his office for a chat about good tunes and great tours, especially if you enjoy shoegaze, post-rock, synthpop, jangle pop, black metal, or the entire Flying Nun Records/Dunedin Sound scene. He has hosted multiple events combining music and historical research with the Melbourne folk band The Orbweavers, and he has organised the Roogaze festival of Australian shoegaze music.
André’s postdoctoral fellowship, “Economic Growth and Environmental Change: Australasian Railways, 1850s–1914”, explores how the construction of railways to promote economic growth in Britain’s seven Australasian colonies had significant environmental effects. It focuses on three main themes: the exploitation of natural resources made possible by railways, the railways as an industry unto themselves with a vast demand for resources, and the environments created within railway corridors.
André is also currently researching colonial separation movements in Australasia. Two such movements succeeded, giving rise to Victoria and Queensland. Many more proliferated, from Auckland and Otago in New Zealand to Princeland across the Victorian/South Australian border, North and Central Queensland, and the brief “separation for federation” Auralia campaign on Western Australia’s goldfields. These movements, often the first significant political campaign in an area, played a crucial role in defining Australasia’s political landscape and fixing local and regional identities and rivalries.
Awards and Distinctions
- PhD (Melbourne, 2014)
- BA Honours (Melbourne, 2010)
- Stuart Macintyre, Gwilym Croucher, and André Brett. No End of a Lesson: Australia’s Unified National System of Higher Education. Melbourne: Melbourne University Publishing, 2017.
- André Brett. Acknowledge No Frontier: The Creation and Demise of New Zealand’s Provinces, 1853–76. Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2016.
- André Brett, Gwilym Croucher, and Stuart Macintyre. Life After Dawkins: The University of Melbourne in the Unified National System of Higher Education, 1988–1996. Melbourne: Melbourne University Publishing, 2016.
- William B. Lacy, Gwilym Croucher, André Brett, and Romina Mueller. Australian Universities at a Crossroads: Insights from Their Leaders and Implications for the Future. Melbourne: Centre for the Study of Higher Education, 2017.
- ‘“Playing Sad Havoc with Our Forests”: Foresters Versus Sleeper Hewers in Late Colonial Victoria’. In Australia’s Ever-Changing Forests VII, edited by Sue Feary and Rob Robinson. Canberra: Australian Forest History Society, 2016.
- ‘Wooden Rails and Gold: Southland and the Demise of the Provinces’. In Rushing for Gold: Nineteenth Century Trans-Tasman Society, Mining, and Enterprise, edited by Lloyd Carpenter and Lyndon Fraser. Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2016.
- ‘Railways and the Exploitation of Victoria’s Forests, 1880s–1920s’, Australian Economic History Review, forthcoming.
- ‘The Victorian College of Pharmacy: A Case Study of Amalgamation Failure and Success in Australian Higher Education’, History of Education, forthcoming.
- ‘Australia and the Secretive Exploitation of the Chatham Islands to 1842’, Journal of Australian Studies, 41:1, 2017.
- ‘A Sudden Fancy for Tree Planting? Forest Conservation and the Demise of New Zealand’s Provinces’, Environment and History, 23:1, 2017.
- ‘Did War Cause the Abolition of New Zealand’s Provincial System?’, History Australia 12:2, August 2015, 166–88.
- ‘“The Miserable Remnant of this Ill-Used People”: Colonial Genocide and the Moriori of New Zealand’s Chatham Islands’, Journal of Genocide Research, 17:2, June 2015, 133–52.
- ‘Dreaming on a Railway Track: Public Works and the Demise of New Zealand’s Provinces’, Journal of Transport History, 36:1, June 2015, 77–96.
- ‘A Limited Express or Stopping All Stations? Railways and Nineteenth-Century New Zealand’. Journal of New Zealand Studies 16, 2013, 133–49.
- ‘The Great Kiwi (Dis)Connect: The New Provinces Act and its Consequences’. Melbourne Historical Journal 40, 2012, 129–48.
Potential topics for HDR & Honours Supervision
- Australian history
- New Zealand history
- Genocide studies
- Railway studies