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Documenting the work of (women) assistants and students in the making of an ‘archéologie océaniste’: Manouka Laroche’s army of volunteers at the Musée de l’Homme 1939-1970.


About This PhD Project

Project Description

25 years ago, historian of science Margaret Rossiter called for “future scholars to write a more equitable and comprehensive history and sociology of science that not only does not leave all the ‘Matildas’ out, but calls attention to still more of them” (1993: 337). In this landmark paper, Rossiter described the historical process – coined ‘Matilda effect’ - through which female scientists were written out of history, often in association with the ‘halo effect’ where men in prominent positions were given the credit for the work of women collaborators. Although research in the history of science has been working to identify and rectify this bias for the past 40 years, such endeavours have been less numerous with respect to the social sciences. The history of archaeology - itself a side-concern for the history of science - has in turn produced narratives that are fundamentally gender-biased. In the Pacific, the history of archaeology is a new field of research, which provides a unique chance to write a more inclusive and multifaceted history of the discipline from the start. A new research project funded by the Australian Research Council and led by Discovery Early Career Researcher Awardee Dr Emilie Dotte-Sarout () will start in 2020 at the University of Western Australia to investigate the scientific lives and contributions of women in the development of Pacific archaeology.

We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with interdisciplinary interests in history, French Studies, archaeology and material culture studies, and Pacific and gender studies, to conduct an innovative PhD research project that will focus especially on the hidden contributions of the many volunteers who worked in the Musée de l’Homme during the formative years of the French school of Pacific archaeology (from the end of the 1930s to the 1970s). The role, names, and legacies of this elusive group of mainly women voluntary assistants and students remain undocumented to date – while some of our previous work on the emergence of the ‘archéologie océaniste’ school in the Musée de l’Homme has started to bring to light the foundational work undertaken by some, especially in regards to analyses of Pacific material collection. This group of volunteers worked under the lead of Marie-Charlotte (Manouka) Laroche (1906-1996) within the Société des Océanistes, whose essential activities within the French océaniste academic circles also requires far better historical understanding and acknowledgement.

This project will provide opportunities to work within a small team of early career researchers, with a research assistant, another PhD project and at least one honour project included, under the lead of DECRA fellow Emilie Dotte-Sarout. The overall project will be hosted in the departments of history and of archaeology in the Schools of Social Sciences and Humanities at UWA, both international leaders in their field. Methods and approaches deployed will provide unique training in interdisciplinary studies, using transnational history, scientific biographies with a prosographic approach and intellectual history, related to material culture and archaeological analyses.

There will be opportunities for international stays to work with the Sorbonne in Paris. The research necessitates serious competency in French and English and will involve alternate stays in Paris working in the archives alongside French specialists and stays in Perth to work with Dr Dotte-Sarout and the UWA supervisory team. A background in at least one of the fields of interest highlighted above is necessary, and experience with interdisciplinary research desirable. Applicants should submit a CV with the names of two referees, an academic transcript, and a cover letter outlining their research interests and motivation. We will then get in touch with short-listed applications. The starting date will be before mid-2020.

References

Diaz-Andreu M. & M. L. S. Sorensen. 1998. Excavating Women: A History of Women in European Archaeology. Routledge.
Coiffier C. & M. Panoff, 1995, Quelques aspects de l’histoire de la Société des océanistes : un entretien avec M.-C. Laroche, Journal de la Société des océanistes, 100-101 (1-2), pp. 41- 55.
Dotte-Sarout E. & Howes H. “Lapita before Lapita: the story of the Meyer/O’Reilly Watom Island archaeological collection”. Journal of Pacific History, 54 (3): 354-378.

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