Biography

Deborah Lee Talbot image.pngIn 2018 I completed my first-class Honours thesis ‘Imaginative Sketches: How expedition sketch maps represent the cultural work of both indigenous intermediaries and colonial emissaries’. This research analysed the sketch maps of The Argus expedition to Papua in 1883. I argued these maps were co-produced artefacts of cross-cultural encounter and knowledge.

My Ph.D., supported by a Deakin University scholarship, explores issues of multiculturalism, religious performances, materiality, and early encounters between Indigenous and colonial representatives across Oceania societies. 

This thesis is tentatively titled A feminist frontier? Analysing women’s experiences on evangelical sites in Oceania, 1861-1907. I am currently writing a sample chapter titled ‘Not proper, not orthodox: The ‘Queen’ and ‘Prime Minister’ of Papua’. This chapter examines letters, reports, magazine articles, and photographs held in public archives. Using an intersectional feminist approach I deconstruct the discursive processes at play on-site at the London Missionary Society frontier. I focus on the relationship formed between two significant women in Port Moresby, Geua, an Indigenous intermediary, and Fanny Lawes from 1873 until 1898. Focusing on the narratives of these two women I describe how these women came to know one another, then I scrutinize their experiences of being named the ‘Prime Minister’ and ‘Queen of New Guineans’.

I am currently the Academic Co-ordinator for the Contemporary Histories Research Group, Co-convenor of Deakin Universities PNG Study Group, a research assistant with the Australian Policy and History network.

Contact me for history presentations, book reviews, or consultancy work.

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