Research

ISFAR is Australia’s only research centre dedicated to the study of the relationship between Australia and France. Its journal, The French Australian Review (FAR) is unique in its interdisciplinary coverage/interdisciplinarity, and is recognised as top-ranking and of national significance by important sectors of the Australian research community. The Australian Research Council recognises The French Australian Review (FAR) under two research categories: “Historical Studies” and “Language, Culture and Communication”.

The ISFAR Research Committee

• Chair, Dr Alexis Bergantz (RMIT University)
• Chair, Dr Elizabeth Rechniewski (University of Sydney)
• Emeritus Professor Robert Aldrich (University of Sydney)
• Adjunct Professor Stephen Alomes (RMIT University)
• Assoc. Professor Kerry Mullan (RMIT University)
• Emerita Professor Margaret Sankey (University of Sydney)
• Emeritus Professor Barbara Santich (University of Adelaide)

Alexis Bergantz photo Dr Alexis Bergantz (co-chair of the Research Committee) is a historian working on Franco-Australian history, New Caledonia and the French Pacific. He is currently writing a book for NewSouth Publishing on the history of the idea of French culture in Australia in the nineteenth century. The book is based on Alexis’ PhD thesis which he completed at the Australian National University in 2016 and for which he was awarded the John Molony Prize for best thesis in History and the prestigious ANU J. G. Crawford Prize for Academic Excellence. The thesis was also shortlisted by the Australian Historical Association for the Serle Award for best PhD thesis in Australian history. Alexis’ new research project investigates the transcolonial links between Australia and New Caledonia and the history of French convicts in Australia, both from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century. He teaches at RMIT University in Global & Language studies, and tweets @alexisbergantz and @theISFAR.
Elizabeth Rechniewski photo Dr Elizabeth Rechniewski (co-chair of the Research Committee) is an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney in the School of Languages and Cultures. She has a long-standing research interest in the political uses of the national past and has published widely on remembrance of twentieth century war in Australia, France and New Caledonia, including on the commemoration of the role of Indigenous soldiers in these countries. She was the co-author (with Judith Keene) of the official report for the French Ministry of Defence on war commemoration in Australia (Wieviorka 2009). As Chief Investigator on the ARC project Seeking Meaning in a Post-Cold War World (2013-2016), she published articles on the impact of Cold War ideology on decolonisation in French Cameroon and Madagascar, and, with Judith Keene, Seeking Meaning, Seeking Justice in a Post-Cold War World (Brill 2018). Her current projects include research into the tensions between France and Australia over control of the South Pacific in the late nineteenth-early twentieth century. She was awarded the title of Chevalier de l‘Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French government in 2009 and the Ordre National du Mérite in 2010.
Robert Aldrich photo Robert Aldrich is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Sydney. His books include The French Presence in the South Pacific, 1842-1940 (1990), France’s Overseas Frontier: Départements et Territoires d’Outre-Mer (with John Connell, 1992), France and the South Pacific since 1940 (1993), Greater France: A History of French Overseas Expansion (1996) and Vestiges of the Colonial Empire in France: Monuments, Museums and Colonial Memories (2005). More recently, he has published Banished Potentates: Dethroning and Exiling Indigenous Monarchs under British and French Colonial Rule (2018), and with Cindy McCreery has edited three volumes on monarchies and colonialism. He has been decorated with the Ordre des Palmes Académiques, and is a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and the Royal Historical Society. He is particularly interested in the history of French connections with Asia and more generally the Indo-Pacific.
Stephen Alomes photo Adjunct Professor Stephen Alomes of RMIT University is a contemporary cultural and political historian and an expressionist painter and prose poet, with an interest in comparative studies. Co-founder of the Australian Studies Association in 1983 (now formally international, as InASA), he has had a continuing interest in European and French studies, as well as in nationalism, populism and war memory, and culture and sport. He has co-edited two books on Australia and Japan and was principal editor of A Changing France in a Changing World (1994) and French Worlds Pacific Worlds (1998), as well as six books on Australia. Other comparative work focuses on: French political leaders (Sarkozy, Jospin, Macron); the two bicentennials of 1988 and 1989; and Australian Football in France since the 1990s. Formerly, he chaired the editorial board of The French Australian Review.
Kerry Mullan photo Associate Professor Kerry Mullan is President of ISFAR, and on the Editorial Board of The French Australian Review. She is Convenor of Languages at RMIT University in Melbourne, where she teaches French language and culture, and linguistics. Her main research interests are cross-cultural pragmatics, discourse analysis, language pedagogy, and verbal humour in social and online interactions (particularly French and Australian). Kerry is also the convenor of The Melbourne Salon, a series of regular cultural events, organised in collaboration with ISFAR, the Alliance Française de Melbourne and RMIT. She is Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques, awarded by the French Government in 2016.
Margaret Sankey photo Margaret Sankey FAHA is Professor Emerita in French Studies at the University of Sydney. She is coordinator of the ARC-funded Baudin Legacy project and her research on the Baudin expedition focusses on first contacts between the French and the Aborigines of New Holland and Van Diemen’s Land. She has also published on early French notions of the Terres Australes and is at present working on a translation and critical edition in English of the seventeenth-century text of the Abbé Jean Paulmier, Mémoires touchant l’établissement d’une mission chrestienne dans le troisième monde. Autrement appelé, la Terre Australe, Meridionale, Antartique [sic] & Inconnuë which influenced French voyages of exploration to the Southern hemisphere. Her other research includes published translations from French: The Anthropological Structures of the Imaginary by Gilbert Durand and The Five Senses by Michel Serres. She is an Officer in the Ordre des Palmes académiques and Chevalier in the Ordre national du Mérite, awarded by the French Government.
Barbara Santich photo Professor Emeritus Barbara Santich is a food historian who initiated the Graduate Program in Gastronomy and its successor, Graduate Program in Food Studies, at the University of Adelaide. She also introduced postgraduate courses in Food Writing. Her research into food history/food culture focuses on both France and Australia, and her publications include The Original Mediterranean Cuisine (Wakefield Press, 1995; new revised edition Equinox, 2018) and Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage (Wakefield Press, 2012). She is currently researching food, cooking and eating in eighteenth-century Provence.

The role of the committee is to stimulate, assess and support research in the field of French Australian Relations. It also manages the ISFAR Research Fund.

The ISFAR Research Fund

The Research Fund serves to commission specific research projects, to assist researchers in the development of research ideas and projects, and to award bursaries to young researchers to attend ISFAR and other relevant conferences.

Among the ongoing long-term projects already being overseen by the Research Committee are:
• The French-Australian Dictionary of Biography, a biographical dictionary of important figures in the history of French Australian relations.
• A history of the influence of French wine-making on the Australian industry, through the individuals and companies involved, coordinated by Professor Barbara Santich.
• Australia and France in a Regional and Global Context: Past Engagements and Future Research Directions, 35th Anniversary Symposium of ISFAR, 8-9 April 2021, RMIT University, Melbourne.

Colin Nettelbeck Travel Scholarship

A Travel Scholarship was set up in 2021 in honour of Emeritus Professor Colin Nettelbeck to recognise the central role he has played in founding the Institute and his ongoing and invaluable commitment to the full range of its public and research activities, including initiating the French Australian Dictionary of Biography.

This biennial grant of AUD $400 will be awarded to a Postgraduate or Honours student to assist them to present a paper at the ISFAR conference, held every two years. Criteria for the award include the quality of the abstract, the relevance of the paper to the themes of the conference, and the degree of financial support already available to the candidate.

The first award will be made in relation to the conference planned for 2023. Further details and an application form will be made available on the ISFAR website nearer the time.