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Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, Monash University

Dr Chris Urwin is a research fellow at Monash Indigenous Studies Centre and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH). Chris works in partnership with Indigenous communities to investigate their remarkable landscapes in Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG). He completed his PhD in 2019, for which he worked with two villages in Orokolo Bay (PNG) to establish radiocarbon chronologies for their ancestral sites, alongside a programme to document local oral traditions. This research has helped improve our understanding of the history of exchange and social change on PNG's south coast.

Chris was previously (2019-2020) a Senior Curator in the First Peoples Department at Museums Victoria, where he sought to enhance community access and research into the archaeology collection. In 2021 he will be a Peter Buck postdoctoral fellow at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution, USA), researching the social histories of Pacific canoe collections. Chris enjoys communicating archaeology and anthropology for a popular audience: from 2017-2019 he was social media officer for the Australian Archaeological Association.

Chris' research interests include: how Indigenous communities understand colonial-era collecting practices; how people build places through time and remember this process; and the application of Bayesian chronological models in archaeology. He has obtained research funding from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), the Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE), the Australian Archaeological Association and the Smithsonian Institution.


  • 2020–present
    Postdoctoral research fellow, Monash University
  • 2019–2020
    Senior curator, Museums Victoria
  • 2015–2018
    Teaching associate, Monash University


  • 2019 
    Monash University, Doctor of Philosophy
  • 2013 
    Monash University, Honours / Australian Indigenous Archaeology


  • 2020
    How long have dogs been in Melanesia? New evidence from Caution Bay, south coast of Papua New Guinea, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports
  • 2020
    Worked bone and teeth from Orokolo Bay in the Papuan Gulf (Papua New Guinea), Australian Archaeology
  • 2019
    Excavating and interpreting ancestral action: Stories from the subsurface of Orokolo Bay, Papua New Guinea, Journal of Social Archaeology
  • 2018
    The chronology of Popo, an ancestral village site in Orokolo Bay, Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea, Australian Archaeology
  • 2016
    Hearing the evidence: Using archaeological data to analyse the long-term impacts of dugong (Dugong dugon) hunting on Mabuyag, Torres Strait, over the past 1000 years, Australian Archaeology

Grants and Contracts

  • 2020
    Entwined Narratives of Indigenous Voyaging and American Collecting: Pacific Canoes in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution
    Chief Investigator
    Funding Source:
    National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
  • 2017
    User Access Grant: High-resolution radiocarbon chronologies for the phased development of Popo Ancestral Village in Papua New Guinea (PNG)
    Funding Source:
    Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
  • 2016
    Dating the Miruka clan suburb of Popo Ancestral Village, Orokolo Bay
    Chief Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Australian Archaeological Association Student Reserach Grants Scheme
  • 2016
    Dating the ancestral migration village site of Popo, Orokolo Bay, Papua New Guinea.
    Funding Source:
    Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering

Professional Memberships

  • Australian Archaeological Association
  • The World Archaeological Congress
  • The Archaeological & Anthropological Society of Victoria
  • Museum Ethnographers Group
  • Australian Association for Pacific Studies

Research Areas

  • Pacific Cultural Studies (200210)
  • Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Archaeology (210101)
  • Archaeology Of New Guinea And Pacific Islands (Excl. New Zealand) (210106)
  • Social And Cultural Anthropology (160104)
  • Pacific History (Excl. New Zealand And Maori) (210313)