January 5, 2021

2.4 Innovative Research in Australia: Convicts and Quarantine in Colonial Australia

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Prof. Eleanor Casella, University of Tasmania






Casella, E. C. 2002. Archaeology of the Ross Female Factory: Female Incarceration in Van Diemen's Land, Australia. Launceston, Tasmania : Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery.

Casella, E. C. 2016. 'Horizons beyond the Perimeter Wall: Relational Materiality, Institutional Confinement, and the Archaeology of Being Global', Historical Archaeology 50(3) 127-143.

As historical archaeologists, how might we begin to unpick the complex material webs of trades, migrations, and technologies that constitute globalization? How should we simultaneously understand the local and transnational meanings of our study sites? Through examples based around the 19th-century transportation of British felons to the Australian penal colonies, this article considers how recent work in relational theory offers fresh directions for exploring how the process of “being global” enmeshes humans, artifacts, and landscapes into ever-wider meshworks of connection and significance. It suggests that by traveling along the dynamic awful lines of globalization from the inside out, we archaeologists can consider not only what alternatives could have been, but what might be in our future.


Dr. Peta Longhurst, University of Sydney Alumna.




Longhurst, P. 2018. 'Contagious objects: artefacts of disease transmission and control at North Head Quarantine Station, Australia', World Archaeology, 50:3, 512-529.


From 1828 to 1984, North Head Quarantine Station was the first port of call
for many immigrants seeking a new life in Australia. The institution was
intended to confine disease, via the bodies and objects that conveyed it,
and prevent it from spreading throughout the Sydney populace. Despite
being a public health institution, an initial functional analysis found that
only a small subset of artefacts associated with the site were medical in
nature. This article draws on the assemblage of North Head to consider
how the material culture of quarantine extends beyond medical instruments.
By re-evaluating the assemblage through a disease-centred, ‘epidemiological’
lens, the author demonstrates how disease permeates throughout the quarantine
assemblage, enmeshing artefacts, bodies and contagions within a
complex web of relations.


This is a podcast about new and innovative research in archaeology.

Each episode I talk with pioneering and influential archaeologists about their journal papers, books and research projects.

Season 1 is all about the latest research into the Archaeology of the Roman West.

Season 2 is on Innovative Research in Australia.

Season 3 is on Early Medieval Europe.

Future Seasons:  Well, I'm open to suggestions!  

Medieval Europe, Osteoarchaeology, Mesoamerica, Pacific Archaeology, Prehistoric Burials, Post-Medieval, Scientific Techniques, South-east Asia, Bronze Age Monuments. You tell me!

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