Specialisation: Australian History; Environmental and Social History; History of Public Policy; Twentieth Century International History
In my research – particularly as focussed in political biography, in environmental history and the history of internationalism – I seek a synthesis between the broad patterns of change in political culture and an understanding of personalised experience, career paths and influence. My main recent interest has been in public figures who, while on the margins of formal political processes, have worked in areas that have redefined ideas of social welfare, environmental protection and Indigenous rights, and issues of economic development and international aid. From these perspectives, I am interested in practices of leadership that elude a customary focus on party politics, and illuminate a history of public policy as one of relationships and networks rather than of processes and end-points. I greatly appreciate the use of my work by those researchers in the social sciences who have found my work ‘generative’ in offering fresh characterisations of social and political change in the twentieth century. I have also benefitted from opportunities to work with a range of national institutions, including the National Museum of Australia and the National Archives of Australia, in ways that extent my understanding of such change and have enabled me to explore diverse opportunities of contributing to public debate. While my main area of attention so far has been on Australian issues and figures, I am increasingly interested in tracking such changes in areas of international action, whether in the work of international agencies, social movements or research cooperation. My goals in are to continue to enhance the cultural and biographical depth of political and policy history, through my own work and in collaboration with others.
Visiting Cabinet Historian, National Archives of Australia, 2014 – 2017
Chair, Canberra Museum and Gallery Advisory Committee, 2015-
Chair, Commonwealth Working Party, Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2007- 2017
Member, ACT Heritage Council, 2016-
- Brown, N 2014 A History of Canberra: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- Brown, N & Boden, S 2012, A Way Through: The life of Rick Farley, NewSouth Publishing, Sydney
- Brown, N 2001, Richard Downing: Economics, advocacy and social reform in Australia, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.
- Brown, N 1995, Governing Prosperity: Social Analysis and Social Change in Australia, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- Brown, N 2013, ‘Government, law and citizenship’, in Alison Bashford and Stuart Macintyre (ed.),The Cambridge History of Australia, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Email: nicholas.brown [at] anu.edu.au
Work Phone: 02 6125 3052