About CSI

The Centre for the Study of the Inland, established in 2016 as an initiative of the Transforming Human Societies Research Focus Area, is located in the College of Arts, Social Science and Commerce and brings together key strengths of the University including Archaeology, History and Social Sciences. The Centre has a broad focus on inland Australia, and specifically the Murray Darling Basin, with environmental change a key theme

The 'inland' is both a physical space and an idea. It can be variously named the 'outback', 'the bush', 'the west', the 'wilderness'. In Australia as in other countries, the inland has been lived in, fought over, and transformed by millennia of human interaction and environmental change. The landscapes of the inland have been made by the social, political and cultural histories of the people that use, care and struggle for the land, water and resources found within.

The Centre provides a clear, and multi-disciplinary platform for research on the inland and on the interconnecting themes of water, landscapes and land use (including indigenous land use), agricultural and pastoral history, settlement and migration, resource extraction, and human responses to long-term climate and environmental change.

Research questions

  • What profound environmental change has inland Australia sustained over millennia, and what have been the accompanying social and cultural changes?
  • How does water shape patterns of movement and occupation of the inland?
  • What stories can inland landscapes tell us about Australia's Indigenous nations and settler-colonial histories?
  • What key changes in settlement, agriculture and industry have shaped post WWII land use in the inland?
  • What has been the impact of resource extraction on inland Australia?
  • How have settlement and migration shaped the nature of land use in the inland from ancient times to the present?
  • How have experiences and narratives of the inland shaped national discourses and identities?
  • How do Australia's inland experiences compare with those of other 'inlands'?

Aims and Objectives

  • Become a research centre of international standing, attracting scholars from around the world who are working on topics related to the study of the 'inland'
  • Establish an 'inland studies' hub that will centralise the University's rich knowledge in this area so that it can better used by staff and students
  • Provide a focal point for the University's many scholars who are engaged in research and teaching on this theme to showcase their work
  • Enable greater interdisciplinary collaboration among La Trobe researchers
  • Provide a framework that encourages collaborative comparative research
  • Raise the profile of La Trobe University by becoming an international centre for advanced studies in this field
  • Build capacity through productive links with researchers, collaborators and industry partners
  • Provide a focus point for the preparation of major funding bids.

The Centre for the Study of the Inland will

  • Organise and host conferences, seminars and workshops
  • Host visiting international scholars
  • Provide intellectual leadership and bring expertise in industry partnerships
  • Offer future investment in the form of support for postgraduate scholars and early career researchers.