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Steel, Frances Assoc Prof

Faculty Member

  • School of Humanities and Social Inquiry

Overview


Frances is an historian of the modern Pacific World. Her research connects histories of empire, mobility and the sea. She has a PhD from ANU and joined the University of Wollongong in 2009.

Frances is currently Acting Head of the School of Humanities and Social Inquiry. She was formerly co-director of the Centre for Colonial and Settler Studies (2015-19).

Research Overview


  • Frances’s research engages interrelated themes of colonial networks, oceanic mobilities and transnational labour cultures in the Pacific.

    She is currently completing a book tentatively titled Across the Great Ocean: Empire, Mobility and the Making of a Transpacific Age. Supported by an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, this research focuses on the Pacific as a medium of mobility, connection and competition as rapidly changing technologies of transport bridged the expanse between Australasia and North America. Bracketed by steam’s entry into Pacific shipping in the 1860s and the rise of commercial aviation in the 1950s, it explores how people related to new modes of transpacific connectivity, and traces their consequences for island and littoral societies and cultures. It also studies the ways in which regional networks channelled interdependence, tensions and conflicts between spheres of British and American imperial power and more widely within an Anglo-sphere. Parts of this research have been published in the Journal of Global History and Australian Historical Studies.

    Frances’s interest in oceanic connections has also resulted in the edited collection, New Zealand and the Sea: Historical Perspectives (Bridget Williams Books, 2018). New Zealand’s total area of maritime jurisdiction is more than twenty times its land area, and this is the first collection of essays devoted to how New Zealanders have continually been influenced by and in turn have influenced their marine environments.

    Another monograph Colonialism and Male Domestic Service across the Asia Pacific (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019), jointly with Julia Martínez, Claire Lowrie and Victoria Haskins, focuses on transcolonial networks and exchanges across a wider Asia-Pacific arena. An outcome of an ARC Discovery Project, this book looks at how the British, American, French and Dutch tropical empires came to share common cultures of domestic service which it innovatively expands beyond private homes to the more public spaces of hotels and steamships.

    In parallel Frances has been researching colonial food trades in the Pacific. In 2017 she was awarded a National Library of Australia Research Fellowship to examine Australia’s changing engagements with neighbouring islands following the advent of industrial refrigeration. She is also involved in a collaborative study of colonial and contemporary fishing practices in the Illawarra region and shifting values of localism around food. This project is supported by the UOW Global Challenges scheme.

Available as Research Supervisor

Selected Publications


Investigator On


Available as Research Supervisor

Potential Supervision Topics


  • Pacific history

    Transpacific studies

    Colonial networks in Australasia/the Asia and Pacific region

    Oceanic history, including comparative

    Maritime labour history

    History of travel and/or tourism

    Commodity history, including food

Outreach And Community Service Activities


  • Radio New Zealand https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/standing-room-only/audio/2018670727/new-zealand-and-the-sea-frances-steel 2018

Full Name


  • A/Prof Frances Steel

Mailing Address


  • School of Humanities and Social Inquiry, Building 19

    University of Wollongong

    Wollongong

    NSW

    2522

    AUSTRALIA

Research Overview


  • Frances’s research engages interrelated themes of colonial networks, oceanic mobilities and transnational labour cultures in the Pacific.

    She is currently completing a book tentatively titled Across the Great Ocean: Empire, Mobility and the Making of a Transpacific Age. Supported by an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, this research focuses on the Pacific as a medium of mobility, connection and competition as rapidly changing technologies of transport bridged the expanse between Australasia and North America. Bracketed by steam’s entry into Pacific shipping in the 1860s and the rise of commercial aviation in the 1950s, it explores how people related to new modes of transpacific connectivity, and traces their consequences for island and littoral societies and cultures. It also studies the ways in which regional networks channelled interdependence, tensions and conflicts between spheres of British and American imperial power and more widely within an Anglo-sphere. Parts of this research have been published in the Journal of Global History and Australian Historical Studies.

    Frances’s interest in oceanic connections has also resulted in the edited collection, New Zealand and the Sea: Historical Perspectives (Bridget Williams Books, 2018). New Zealand’s total area of maritime jurisdiction is more than twenty times its land area, and this is the first collection of essays devoted to how New Zealanders have continually been influenced by and in turn have influenced their marine environments.

    Another monograph Colonialism and Male Domestic Service across the Asia Pacific (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019), jointly with Julia Martínez, Claire Lowrie and Victoria Haskins, focuses on transcolonial networks and exchanges across a wider Asia-Pacific arena. An outcome of an ARC Discovery Project, this book looks at how the British, American, French and Dutch tropical empires came to share common cultures of domestic service which it innovatively expands beyond private homes to the more public spaces of hotels and steamships.

    In parallel Frances has been researching colonial food trades in the Pacific. In 2017 she was awarded a National Library of Australia Research Fellowship to examine Australia’s changing engagements with neighbouring islands following the advent of industrial refrigeration. She is also involved in a collaborative study of colonial and contemporary fishing practices in the Illawarra region and shifting values of localism around food. This project is supported by the UOW Global Challenges scheme.

Selected Publications


Investigator On


Potential Supervision Topics


  • Pacific history

    Transpacific studies

    Colonial networks in Australasia/the Asia and Pacific region

    Oceanic history, including comparative

    Maritime labour history

    History of travel and/or tourism

    Commodity history, including food

Outreach And Community Service Activities


  • Radio New Zealand https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/standing-room-only/audio/2018670727/new-zealand-and-the-sea-frances-steel 2018

Full Name


  • A/Prof Frances Steel

Mailing Address


  • School of Humanities and Social Inquiry, Building 19

    University of Wollongong

    Wollongong

    NSW

    2522

    AUSTRALIA

Research Areas

Geographic Focus