Martin Thomas is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the School of History at The Australian National University and an Honorary Associate Professor in PARADISEC at the University of Sydney. His main interests are the perception of landscape, the history of cross-cultural encounter and inquiry, and the impact of technologies such as sound recording and photography that have transformed attitudes to space and time.
Martin is an oral-history interviewer for the National Library of Australia and has had long experience as a radio producer and broadcaster. His radio work began in New York in 1991 when interviews with homeless people became the basis for the ABC documentary Home Front Manhattan (1991)—a reflection on the First Gulf War. Since then he has made more than a dozen documentaries, including This is Jimmie Barker (2000), a study of the Aboriginal sound recordist, which was awarded the NSW Premier’s Audio/Visual History Prize.
Martin’s publications include The Artificial Horizon: Imagining the Blue Mountains (2003), winner of the Gleebooks Prize for Literary and Cultural Criticism in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, and (as editor) Culture in Translation: The Anthropological Legacy of R. H. Mathews (2007). He is a leading authority on Mathews’ pioneering contribution to cross-cultural research in Australia and is author of a biographical study, The Many Worlds of R. H. Mathews (2011).
Martin’s current research is on the history and legacy of the 1948 American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land. This involves archival research and ongoing fieldwork in Arnhem Land. In 2008 he was awarded a Smithsonian Institution Fellowship to study Arnhem Land collections and archives in Washington, DC. He is part of a team (including Linda Barwick and Allan Marett) that is studying the history and impacts of the Expedition, funded as a five-year Discovery Project by the Australian Research Council.