Specialisation: Australian History, Australian historiography, Labour History, Political History, Contemporary History
Frank Bongiorno publishes primarily in the fields of Australian history and historiography, with an emphasis on contemporary history or the history of the recent past. His most recent book, The Eighties: The Decade That Transformed Australia (2015; 2017), was an award-winning study that explored the remaking of Australia in its political, cultural, social and economic aspects in the 1980s. He has promoted the social sciences more generally as chair of the Social Sciences Board of the Australian National University Press.
With a group of colleagues, he is currently carrying out research on the career of the economist, public servant and academic, Sir John Crawford, and he is preparing a general political history of Australia. Frank’s work treats politics and policy as critical to an understanding of historical process, but his research moves beyond a narrow focus on either to explore wider cultural and social contexts, meanings and impacts.
Frank trained initially in labour history and is regarded as an authority on the history of the Australian labour movement, and especially the Australian Labor Party on which he has published widely. He is active in this scholarly community as president of the Canberra Region Branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, an editorial board member of Labour History, and a national executive member of the society.
Frank has also been active in exploring various aspects of the experience of war in Australia, and he has contributed to numerous edited collections and special journal issues in this field. He has been president since early 2017 of the Honest History group, which seeks to place Australian war history in the wider landscape of Australia’s past, and promote a broad understanding of the scope and possibilities of Australian history.
He has served his discipline by co-editing the Australian Historical Association’s journal, History Australia, for three years from 2013 to 2015, continuing its transformation into a high-profile journal with a broad international focus. He has also been active as an advocate for archives, serving in recent years as the AHA’s representative on the Canberra Consultative Committee of the National Archives of Australia.
More generally, Frank’s work applies insights from various sub-fields of history in exploring major themes such as sexuality, politics, culture and identity. His The Sex Lives of Australians: A History, remains the only general history of sexuality in Australia from the eighteenth century until the recent past, and it is widely recognised as an authoritative and accessible study of its subject, as well as a guide to continuing public debates on sexuality in Australia.
Frank writes and reviews for a wide range of media as well as appearing regularly on television and radio, and at exhibitions, writers’ festivals and public lectures and panels. His historical work seeks to interpret Australia’s past for a wide audience who will approach history through a variety of media, and with a wide range of interests and perspectives.
Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
Member, Australian Historical Association
Member, Australian Society for the Study of Labour History
Member (AM) of the Order of Australia, 2019
- Bongiorno, Frank 2015, The Eighties: The Decade That Transformed Australia, Black Inc., Collingwood, Victoria.
- Bongiorno, Frank 2012, The Sex Lives of Australians: A History, Black Inc. Collingwood, Victoria
- Dyrenfurth, Nick and Bongiorno, Frank 2011, A Little History of the Australian Labor Party, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.
Email: frank.bongiorno [at] anu.edu.au
Work Phone: 02 6125 0318