The projects were funded through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Special Research Initiative (SRI) for research into Australian culture, history, and society.
“Understanding human experience on our continent requires historical and cultural expertise to give context to the events and issues that are touching people’s lives today,” said Professor Joy Damousi, President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.
“These research projects will shift our perceptions and shape our ideas about Australia, and prompt rich discussions about who we are as a nation,” said Professor Damousi. “It is research that all decision-makers and policy-developers should heed.”
“The Academy commends those scholars who received funding in the SRI,” said. “This is strong recognition of the value of their research for Australian communities, our society and our future.”
The $12M investment in Australia’s world-class research in the humanities, arts and social sciences (the SHAPE disciplines) was announced in January this year. The release of the successful projects today follows the welcome news in the Budget of the $8.9M for humanities, arts and social science, and Indigenous e-research capability.
These announcements are an important first step in addressing the growing trend of disinvestment in humanities research, which the Academy’s own analysis of the sector has highlighted.
The Academy hopes the funding will provide a much-needed boost to morale in the sector, recognising that the announcement comes at a very difficult time for the humanities research community.
The Academy also recognises there will be many disappointed researchers who missed out on funding. “There was an overwhelming response to the scheme,” said Professor Damousi. “The low success rate of only 7% shows the unmet demand and appetite of researchers to unearth more about our nation’s past and how our society operates today.”
Professor Damousi said she was especially pleased to see a number of projects focussed on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, which was vital for reconciling our own past and recognising the histories and cultures of our First Nations People as foundational to our national story.
ARC Special Research Initiatives are rare in the humanities. Data analysis undertaken by the Academy indicates that less than 2% of SRI funding has been awarded to humanities projects in the two decades to 2020. The National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network (2012) was a welcome initiative, but otherwise there has been no strategic funding since 2005.