Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Dr Kate Fullagar

Kate FullagarSenior Lecturer

BA (Hons) Australian National University 1997
MA University of California at Berkeley 2001
PhD University of California at Berkeley 2005

Office: AHH Building, Level 2
Phone: +61 2 9850 9932
Fax: +61 2 9850 6064

Kate Fullagar is a historian of the eighteenth-century world, particularly the British Empire and the many indigenous societies it encountered. Her interest in comparative indigenous history focuses on the eastern Pacific (Polynesia), the American southeast (esp. Cherokees), and the Eora of today's Australia.  

She is the author of The Savage Visit (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), which traces the dramatic rise and surprising fall of popular British fascination for indigenous visitors through the eighteenth century. Pursuing similar themes, she is also the editor of The Atlantic World in the Antipodes: Effects and Transformations since the Eighteenth Century (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012), with chapters by Alison Bashford, Iain McCalman, Simon Schaffer, Margaret Jolly, Sheila Fitzpatrick, Damon Salesa, and several of the other fabulous scholars who assembled for Sydney's Sawyer Seminar Series.

In 2018 she publishes with prize-winning historian Michael McDonnell an edited collection called Facing Empire: Indigenous Experiences in a Revolutionary Age (Johns Hopkins University Press, Oct. 2018). It includes chapters by Colin Calloway, Bill Gammage, Sujit Sivasundarum, Tony Ballantyne, Daniel Richter, and many others.  

In 2019 she publishes her second monograph with Yale University Press about the unlikely eighteenth-century story of a Cherokee warrior called Ostenaco, a Ra'iatean refugee called Mai, and the British artist, Joshua Reynolds, who painted them both.

Kate has held visiting fellowships at the University of York (as a British Academy Fellow); Duke University (at the John Hope Franklin Center for the Humanities); and Yale University (as a Lewis Walpole Library Travelling Fellow).


Research Fields
Eighteenth-Century British History
Eighteenth-Century Pacific History
Eighteenth-Century Australian History
Early Atlantic History

Current Research

My previous work on New World envoys to eighteenth-century Britain focussed on the experience of indigenous travel and the impact of the visits on imperial popular thought. It argued for the importance of studying the "eighteenth-century New Word" in its historic entirety as well as the necessity of considering familiar terms like "savagery" in their generic (and not just intellectual) context.

My new research involves two projects. The first, in collaboration with Michael A. McDonnell at University of Sydney, is on comparative indigenous histories, 1760-1840. It will focus on indigenous history in North America, South and West Africa, the Indian Ocean and the Austral-Pacific. The second narrates the unlikely intersection of three figures of the eighteenth-century world: the canonical British painter Joshua Reynolds, the Cherokee warrior Ostenaco, and the young Pacific Islander Mai. It both tells the story of their strangely linked destinies and reflects on broader questions about imperial networks and biographical writing.

In addition, I have an ongoing interest in the furtherance and promotion of the history of Bennelong, the first key indigenous personality of the Port Jackson colony in New South Wales.

Selected Publications


The Savage Visit: New World People and Popular Imperial Culture in Britain, 1710-1795 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012)

 A photo of the book cover of The Savage Visit.

'Kate Fullagar's book does nothing less than put its topic into a new frame. The tumultuous reception that New World visitors received indexes what exoticism meant, or, more particularly, what the stories of these visitors meant in the cultural and political conjunctures of the moment. As Fullagar very ably demonstrates, the most contentious issues revolved around war and empire: Was a society constituted around trade and commerce legitimate, if from trade and commerce war and empire inevitably followed?' Nicholas Thomas, University of Cambridge

'This is a beautifully written and thoroughly engaging account of the rise and fall of the 'savage visit' as a focus of cultural interest in Britain in the eighteenth century. It is a fascinating topic, and its treatment here is both intellectually impressive and hugely appealing.' Harriet Guest, University of York.


The Atlantic World in the Antipodes: Effects and Transformations since the Eighteenth Century (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012)                 Photo of book cover The Atlantic World in the Antipodes.

'On the principle that the Pacific is always good to think with, leading scholars take us on a revelatory historical tour of Oceania, showing us time and again how southern encounters made us modern. In these essays, we keep finding key figures of the Atlantic world bobbing up on vast Pacific swells, revealing far more of themselves than they dared in northern climes. Importantly, The Atlantic World in the Antipodes conveys the conflict and intimacy, the rapacity and remorse, of Pacific interactions and entanglements, giving voice to the scatteeed inhabitants on the islands and along the shores, and demonstrating their global influence. [It] brilliantly realises the promise of the dispersive and deconstructive logics of the new global, or trans-oceanic, history.' Warwick Anderson, author of The Collectors of Lost Souls


Chapters and Articles


MHIS221 The Age of Revolution: Europe from the Reign of Terror to the First World War -
MHIS217 Britain, Empire, and the Making of the Globalized World 1688-1948
MRES747 Representing Lives: The Genres of Modern Biography


Departmental Academic Advisor

University Academic Senator


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