Dr Rebecca Cairns, Deakin University


Dr Rebecca Cairns researches school history curriculum and the history of Asia-related education policy in Australia. As a lecturer in the Deakin School of Education she specialises in teaching Humanities education, curriculum and the sociology of education. Prior to this she taught History and English in secondary schools and completed a Master of Education in Studies of Asia, where she developed expertise in 20th century Chinese History.

Rebecca’s PhD, The Representation of Asia in Victorian Senior Secondary History Curriculum, examined the ways by which ‘Asia’ and Asia-related histories are discursively constructed through senior secondary history curriculum policy processes in Victoria. It analysed the political and socio-historical contexts in which curriculum was developed over three decades and explored how Asia-related history curriculum is enacted by teachers. In 2016 she was awarded the Philip Brown History Award in recognition of the innovative use of archival sources in her thesis. She has presented this research at a number of national and international conferences.

Her work in curriculum inquiry is informed by postmodernist, postcolonial and transnational approaches to historical research. She is particularly interested in critically examining the relationship between constructions of race, culture, nation, history and subjectivity through the curriculum processes of the past and the present. One of Rebecca’s current projects explores the ‘curricularisation’ of Asia through school curriculum in Australian and international contexts and another project investigates the status of school history and senior secondary history enrolments across Australia.


Recent and forthcoming publications:

Cairns, R. (in press). Exploring the nexus between Asia education policy discourse and Victorian senior secondary History curriculum: a history of the present. Asian Studies Review

Halse, C. & Cairns, R. (2018). A systematized review of research into/on Asia literacy in schools. In H. Soong & N. Cominos (Eds.), Asia Literacy in a Global World. Singapore: Springer.

Cairns, R. (2018). The Many Voices of Senior History Curriculum Enactment. Agora, 53(2), 4-13.

Cairns, R. (2018). The Representation of Asia in Victorian Senior Secondary History Curriculum.(PhD), Deakin University. Retrieved from http://dro.deakin.edu.au/view/DU:30107919

 Cairns, R. (2018). ‘Western Civilisation’? history teaching has moved on and so should those who champion it. (pp 183-186). 50 Standout Articles from Australia’s Top Thinkers: The Conversation Yearbook. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

Cairns, R. (2018). ‘Western Civilisation’? History teaching has moved on and so should those who champion it. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/western-civilisation-history-teaching-has-moved-on-and-so-should-those-who-champion-it-97697

Cairns. R. (2017). Constructing Asia Literacy as a Policy Problem. Australian Policy and History. Retrieved from http://aph.org.au/constructing-asia-literacy-as-a-policy-problem/

Cairns, R. (2015). Chinese Revolution: Student Workbook. HTAV: Collingwood.