Q & A with Charlotte Ward

In this blog post we’d like to introduce one of our new recruits to the Global Encounters program, Charlotte Ward.

Charlotte Ward

Q. Lynette Russell

Hi Charlotte, the team is excited that you’ve joined us as one of our doctoral students. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

A. Charlotte Ward

I completed my Honours degree at the Australian National University in 2019. My Honours thesis explored how the remembrance of Captain Cook's visit to Waalumbaal Birri (Endeavour River) in Gungardie (Cooktown) has transitioned from a story of colonisation to reconciliation. I am fascinated by how these early interactions between Aboriginal people and visitors are remembered and how they are re-remembered through history, often related to agendas in the present. I have previously worked on the National Museum of Australia's Endeavour's voyage exhibition and I am really excited to explore the interactions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had with people from the sea pre-Cook.

Q. LR

Can you tell us what attracted you to the Global Encounters program?

A. CW

When I finished my Honours thesis, my supervisor encouraged me to consider PhD options. I looked into this briefly, but the opportunities available at that time didn't really speak to me. I didn't want to do a PhD for the sake of doing a PhD. A year after, I was working with the Aboriginal History Journal at the ANU to publish a chapter of my thesis. The editor, who was a previous lecturer of mine, and my Honours supervisor both forwarded me this opportunity to be part of the Global Encounters program. I followed the links and watched videos and read resources from the program – it sparked my passion for research again. Above all, I believe very strongly that Australia needs to better understand its history in order to understand the present and move more positively into the future. Although there have been a series of movements that have unsettled the popular whitewashed view on history – there are many stories that need to be told and many more histories to understand. That's what attracted me to the Global Encounters program – the opportunity to be part of a team and program that will broaden the remembrance and understanding of Australian history from multidisciplinary angles, and I am so excited to be a part of it.

Q. LR

What are your plans for the next three and a half years?

A. CW

I plan to explore interactions that took place between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and visitors pre-Cook along the northern end of Australia. I hope to explore interactions – how they are remembered and the cultural exchanges that took place. By doing this, I hope to broaden the understanding that Australian History did not begin with Cook's arrival and that there is a deep history to this country.

Q. LR

Finally Charlotte, tell us something about your interests outside of academia.

A. CW

Horse riding and ownership is a passion of mine, and so are animals in general. My partner jokes that I am no longer allowed to breed chickens because I struggle to give them away. I am also a keen outdoors person – I used to work for Outward Bound Australia, so I very much feel at home in the bush hiking and camping. I work for the Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association and I'm passionate about helping grow the number of Indigenous Doctors and health practitioners to have a positive impact on Indigenous health.