ANU: Prestigious position for leading First Nations scholar

A leading First Nations multidisciplinary artist and scholar from The Australian National University (ANU) has been awarded the Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser Chair of Australian Studies at Harvard University for the 2023-2024 academic year.

Professor Brenda L Croft, who is based in the Centre for Art History and Art Theory, School of Art and Design at the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences, will be the inaugural First Nations woman academic to take up the role.

Professor Croft is from the Gurindji/Malngin/Mudburra peoples from the Victoria River region of the Northern Territory, and Anglo-Australian/ Chinese/German/Irish heritage.

At Harvard Professor Croft will split her teaching and research between the Department of History of Art and Architecture and Department of Art, Film, and Visual Studies, while also engaging with colleagues in the Harvard University Native American Program and outside the university.

Professor Croft’s teaching and research will engage with Australian First Nations, international First Nations creative practices, drawing upon her extensive multidisciplinary academic, artistic and curatorial research engagement within the contemporary First Nations cultural sectors in Australia and overseas, where she has been a leader for almost four decades.

“It is an incredible privilege to be awarded this position, alongside Professor Katie Holmes from La Trobe University,” Professor Croft said.

“I am extremely honoured to be based at such a prestigious centre of learning, research and teaching and am thrilled to be able to share my experience as an Australian First Nations multidisciplinary creative practitioner with students and leading scholars from around the world.

“Additionally, the opportunity to extend and further develop networks with Native American/First Nations colleagues in their homelands is exciting and I hope that the connection between Harvard and the ANU will continue after my tenure.”

Dean of the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor Rae Frances, said it is an “extraordinary honour” for both Professor Croft and ANU.

“ANU is delighted with Professor Croft’s appointment to this extremely prestigious position at one of the world’s leading universities,” Professor Frances said.

“We are especially proud to be represented by such a talented Indigenous scholar whose work will do much to communicate the rich culture and history of Australian First Nations people to a US audience.”

The Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser Chair in Australian Studies was established by a gift from the Australian Government to Harvard in 1976, in commemoration of America’s Bicentennial. It aims to bring distinguished visiting scholars from a range of fields to Harvard.

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