Associate Professor Robert Foster

Associate Professor Robert Foster
 Position Associate Professor
 Org Unit School of Humanities
 Telephone +61 8 8313 5616
 Location Floor/Room 5 ,  Napier ,   North Terrace
  • Biography/ Background

    Robert specialises in South Australian Aboriginal History as well as comparative Indigenous History. For more than a decade he has collaborated with Amanda Nettelbeck on a project investigating the history and memory of the Australian frontier. Their book Fatal Collisions: The South Australian Frontier and the Violence of Memory, co-authored Rick Hosking, won the John Tregenza prize for South Australian History in 2002 and was short-listed for the NSW Premier's Prize for Literature. In the Name of the Law: William Willshire and the Policing of the Australian Frontier, published in 2007, was described by a reviewer in Australian Historical Studies as an 'outstanding study', demonstrating 'to a degree unprecedented in the scholarship on the frontier ... how policing worked during the transition from contested sovereignty over Aboriginal land to the establishment of government authority ... a book that deserves to be on the reading list of any guide to essential reading in Australian history'. Out of the Silence: The History and Memory of South Australia's Frontier Wars, published in 2012, is the first comprehensive study of the nature and extent of frontier violence in colonial South Australia.

    Robert and Amanda Nettelbeck, with partner investigators Professor Russell Smandych of the University of Manitoba and Emeritus Professor Lou Knafla of the University of Calgary, are currently involved in a project which is exploring the establishment of European authority on the frontiers of Australia and western Canada. A monograph, tentatively entitled Fragile Settlements, will be published by the University of British Columbia Press in 2014.

    In 2011 Robert and his colleague Paul Sendziuk organised a public lecture series to co-incide with South Australia's 175th anniversary of European settlement. It was an extremely popular public event and the lectures were published as a book, Turning Points: Chapters in South Australian History, in 2012. Robert and his colleague Paul Sendziuk are also writing a History of South Australia, which will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2014.

  • Research Interests

    • History and Memory
    • The frontiers of Australia and western Canada
    • Aboriginal Labour and the Pastoral Industry
    • Native Title
    • Aboriginal Policy and Administration
    • Comparative Indigenous History
  • Publications

    For a full listing of Robert Foster's publications, please see attached document.

    Books and Monographs - Joint Author Works

    Robert Foster & Amanda Nettelbeck, Out of the Silence: The History and Memory of Australia's Frontier Wars, Wakefield Press, 2012. 

    Robert Foster & Paul Sendziuk (eds), Turning Points: Chapters in South Australian History, Wakefield Press, 2012. 

    Amanda Nettelbeck & Robert Foster, In the Name of the Law: William Willshire and the Policing of the Australian Frontier, Wakefield Press, 2007.


    Robert Foster, P. Monaghan & P. Mühlhäusler, Dictionary of 19th Century South Australian Aboriginal English, Pacific Linguistics Monograph Series, 2003.


    Robert Foster, Rick Hosking & Amanda Nettelbeck, Fatal Collisions: the South Australian frontier and the violence of memory, Wakefield Press, 2001.


      Journal Articles And Book Chapters

      Robert Foster, ‘His Majesty’s most gracious and benevolent intentions’, in Colonial Democracy and Indigenous-Settler Relations, a Special Issue of the Journal of Australian Colonial History, Vol. 15, 2013, pp. 105-120.

      Amanda Nettelbeck & Robert Foster, ‘On the Trail of the Great March West: The North West Mounted Police in western Canadian Historical memory, in A. Perry, E.W.  Jones & L. Morton (eds), Place and Replace: Essays on Western Canada, University of Manitoba Press, 2013, pp. 72-96.

      Amanda Nettelbeck & Robert Foster, 'Food and governance on the frontiers of colonial Australia and Canada's North West Territories', Aboriginal History, Vol. 36, 2012, pp. 21-42.

      Robert Foster & Amanda Nettelbeck, 'Proclamation Day and the Rise and Fall of Colonial Nationalism' in R. Foster & P. Sendziuk (eds), Turning Points: Chapters in South Australian History, Wakefield Press, Adelaide, 2012, pp. 48-62.

      Amanda Nettelbeck & Robert Foster, ‘ “As fine a body of men’: How the Royal Canadian Mounted Police brought law and order to the Australian Frontier’, Journal of Australian Studies, Vol. 36, Issue 2, 2012.

      Amanda Nettelbeck & Robert Foster. ‘Colonial Judiciaries, Aboriginal Protection and South Australia’s Policy of Punishing ‘with Exemplary Severity’, Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 41, No 3, 2010, pp 319-336.

      Amanda Nettelbeck & Robert Foster, 2010.‘Commemorating Foundation: A Study in Regional Historical Memory’, History Australia, Vol. 7. No. 3, 2010, pp. 53.1-53.18.

      Amanda Nettelbeck & Robert Foster, ‘The Central Australian Frontier and the Struggle to Remember’ in Jim Aulrich, et al, eds, The Politics of Cultural Memory, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 183-196.

      Robert Foster, ‘ “Don’t mention the war’: Frontier violence and the language of concealment’, History Australia, vol. 6 No. 3, December 2009, pp. 68.1-.68.15.

      Robert Foster & Amanda Nettelbeck, ‘The Rule of Law on the South Australian Frontier’, Legal History, vol. 13, no. 2, 2009, pp 34-52.

      Robert Foster & Amanda Nettelbeck, ‘Reading the Elusive Letter of the Law: Policing the Australian Frontier’, Australian Historical Studies, 2007, vol 38, no 130.

      Robert Foster, ‘Co-existence and Colonization on Pastoral Lands in South Australia, 1851-1899’, in Despotic Dominion: Property Rights in British Settler Societies, University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver, 2005.

      Robert Foster & Amanda Nettelbeck,  ‘Writing William Willshire’, in S. Magarey & K. Round, eds, Living History: Essays on History as Biography, Adelaide, Australian Humanities Press, 2005, pp 79-92.

      Robert Foster & Amanda Nettelbeck, ‘White Indigeneity: The Life and Fiction of William Willshire’, in S. Schech & B. Wadham, eds, Placing Race and Localising Whiteness, Flinders Press, 2004, pp. 133-142.

      Mandy Paul & Robert Foster, ‘Married to the Land: Land Grants to Aboriginal Women in South Australia, 1848-1911, Australian Historical Studies, No. 121, April 2003.

      ‘Rations, Co-existence and the colonisation of Aboriginal Labour in South Australia, 1860-1911', Aboriginal History, vol. 24, 2000. 

      ‘“Endless Trouble and Agitation”: Aboriginal Activism in the Protectionist Era', Journal of the Historical Society of South Australia, 2000. 

      ‘Paper Yabber: the messenger and the message', Aboriginal History, vol. 22, 2000.

    1. Files

    2. Media Expertise

      CategoriesHistory, Aboriginal & Indigenous Issues
      ExpertiseAboriginal people and issues (history), esp. South Australian Aboriginal history
      NotesAlt phone: (08) 8303 5611

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    Entry last updated: Tuesday, 29 Mar 2022

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