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Patricia A. O'Brien

Faculty Member, Asian Studies Program, Georgetown University; Visiting Fellow, Department of Pacific Affairs, Australian National University., Georgetown University

I'm an historian of the Pacific, Australia and empire. I also research and write on a wide array of global contemporary topics. My work has concentrated on Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, the United States and the League of Nations. My books include the biography of Samoan nationalist leader, Ta'isi O.F. Nelson, Tautai: Samoa, World History and the Life of Ta'isi O. F. Nelson (Hawai'i: 2017) and The Pacific Muse: Exotic Femininity and the Colonial Pacific (UWP: 2007). My latest book is a world history written through a biography of Errol Flynn.


  • –present
    Visiting Fellow, Australian National University
  • 2020–present
    Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University
  • 2014–2019
    Australian Research Council Future Fellow, Australian National University
  • 2016–2017
    Historical Consultant, Australian Museum, Sydney
  • 2012–2013
    JD Stout Fellow in New Zealand Studies, Victoria University of Wellington
  • 2011–2013
    Jay I Kislak Fellow, Kluge Center, Library of Congress


  • 1999 
    University of Sydney, PhD
  • 1993 
    University of Sydney, Bachelors of Arts, First Class Honours and University Medal


  • 2021
    Wild Colonial Boy: Errol Flynn’s Rape Trial, Pacific Pasts And The Making Of Hollywood, Australian Historical Studies
  • 2019
    Tautai forum et. al., Journal of Pacific History
  • 2018
    League of Nations: History, Impact, Legacies, edited with Joy Damousi , University of Melbourne Press
  • 2017
    Tautai: Samoa, World History and the Life of Ta'isi O. F. Nelson, University of Hawai'i Press
  • 2017
    Bridging The Pacific: Ta'isi O.f. Nelson, Australia And The Sāmoan Mau, History Australia
  • 2014
    Ta‘isi O.f. Nelson And Sir Maui Pomare Samoans And Māori Reunited, Journal of Pacific History
  • 2012
    Reactions To Australian Colonial Violence In New Guinea: The 1926 Nakanai Massacre In A Global Context, Australian Historical Studies
  • 2012
    The Politics Of Race, Nation, Empire, And The Intimate: Recent Explorations, Journal Of Women's History
  • 2010
    The politics of mines and indigenous rights: a case study of the Grasberg mine in Indonesia's Papua province, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • 2009
    Remaking Australia's Colonial Culture?: White Australia And Its Papuan Frontier 1901–1940, Australian Historical Studies
  • 2006
    ‘Think Of Me As A Woman’: Queen Pomare Of Tahiti And Anglo-French Imperial Contest In The 1840s Pacific, Gender and History
  • 2006
    The Pacific Muse: Exotic Femininity and the Colonial Pacific, University of Washington Press
  • 2005
    Amongst Friends: Australian and New Zealand Voices from America, edited with Bruce Vaughn, University of Otago Press

Grants and Contracts

  • 2013
    Colonialism, Violence and Resistance in the Interwar Pacific: Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Samoa and Beyond
    Future Fellow
    Funding Source:
    Australian Research Council

Research Areas

  • Australian History (Excl. Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander History) (210303)
  • Pacific History (Excl. New Zealand And Maori) (210313)
  • Maori History (210309)
  • Pacific Peoples Information And Knowledge Systems (080614)
  • Pacific Cultural Studies (200210)
  • Culture, Gender, Sexuality (200205)
  • British History (210305)
  • North American History (210312)
  • Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander History (210301)