Amy specialises in architectural and cultural history, particularly that relating to 19th-21st century Australia, modern and contemporary Scotland, and Britain and the British Empire across the colonial period. She has worked in Scotland, Vanuatu and Cambodia in addition to Australia, and her research encompasses history and heritage in the Antipodes, the U.K., North America, the Pacific, and South-east Asia.
Amy is particularly interested in exploring historical and national/regional identity narratives through heritage practice and theory, and her recent research has explored heritage policy, cultural diplomacy, identity politics and nationalism.
An important branch of this research is Amy’s investigation of popular material culture, particularly that which is ‘kitschy’ and undervalued. This includes research into ‘Big Things’, false-fronted (disguised) infrastructure, ‘themed’ environments (Scottish-themed pubs, open air museums based on past eras), fast-food architecture in historic environments, and the role of history and culture in creating narrative spaces within theme parks.
Themes that run throughout all of Amy’s research include popular culture iconography, architectural styles, nation branding strategies, and popularised national history narratives for domestic and international audiences.
Amy has published in a variety of academic journals within the architectural history, heritage, diplomacy and cultural history fields. For details, please visit her Academia.edu page or view her ORCID record.
Amy has published several articles/conference papers that address the broad theme of cultural/heritage diplomacy, specifically through explorations of the Australian Federal Government’s List of Overseas Places of Historic Significance to Australia (LOPHSA), the Australian Federal Government’s Overseas Privately-Constructed Memorial Restoration Grant Program (OPCMRG), and the Scottish Government’s Scottish Ten digital heritage scheme.
Amy’s PhD dissertation, entitled Built heritage and National Identity: Constructing and Promoting Scottishness in the Twenty-First Century, was conferred in 2015 (University of Queensland), and investigated several contemporary issues in heritage politics and governance using Scottish case studies and examples. Case studies for this research were drawn from Scotland, Canada (particularly the diaspora in Nova Scotia), India (particularly remnant colonial-era architecture) and contemporary Scottish diplomatic partners (India, China, U.S., Japan, Australia). While framed within this Scottish context, the research asked more broadly-relevant questions about politicised historical narratives and identities, particularly those that are played-out or captured through architectural (or ‘built’) heritage. The research drew from a number of disciplines: heritage (and critical heritage) studies/theory, architectural history and design theory, cultural history, identity studies, and political/diplomatic studies. Several articles were published out of this research, and can be found on Amy’s Academia.edu page.
Prior to her PhD research, Amy completed a Masters by Research at the University of Edinburgh. This work considered the unusual spread of ‘English’ architectural styles (particularly Tudor Revival or Tudorbethan) in Scotland in the 19th century, and included the collation of a detailed database of examples, a historical examination of architectural education and design processes (specifically pattern-books), and a historical study of architect-patron relationships and the socio-economic connections of those who commissioned ‘English’ styles. This work revealed a strong correlation between Anglicized Scottish landed gentry, the perception that ‘English’ architectural styles communicated allegiance to the Crown and British Parliament, and the expectation that Scottish architects would travel to London to study or train. The thesis, entitled The Scottish Tudor Revival, can be found in its unpublished version on Academia.edu.
For her Bachelor of Arts Honours thesis, completed at the University of Queensland, Amy explored the fascination that the Tudor period (and key historical figures) held for Victorian society, and how narratives/portrayals of these Tudor people and events were reframed by the Victorians to suit 19th century attitudes. This research, which drew from the fields of art, architecture, literature and social history, shed light on the ways that a nation (or culture) selects and revises aspects of its past in order to elevate values it holds in high regard in the contemporary period (e.g. motherhood, patriotism, Protestantism, rural landscapes). The thesis, entitled What the Tudors Meant to the Victorians: Constructing an Historical Identity in the Nineteenth Century, can be found in its unpublished version on Academia.edu.
Amy welcomes expressions of interest from students wishing to complete Honours, Masters or PhD projects, either at the University of the Sunshine Coast or at another institution with Amy’s involvement as co-supervisor. The themes/topics Amy is open to supervising (or co-supervising) include:
- Any subject / theme relating to heritage in local, Queensland, Australian or global contexts (architectural, archaeological, museums, interpretation, repatriation, policy, etc.).
- Promotion and manipulation of ‘national’ identities for social, political and/or economic gain (17th–21st centuries); the general history of nationalism and national identity/patriotism in specific locations/communities.
- British imperial and colonial history, culture and heritage (including North America, southern Africa, South-east Asia, Australia and Oceania).
- British (or English/Scottish/Welsh/Irish) history from 15th century – present.
- The Nineteenth Century/Victorian era.
- Any themes drawing from local (i.e. Sunshine Coast and surrounds), state (i.e. Queensland) or national (Australia) history from 18th century onwards.
- History of Australian and/or British popular culture (including film, music, television).
- Any political history, but particularly Australian, British, South-East Asian or European (this can include themes such as crossing borders, war/conflict, nationalism, genocide, cultural contention/persecution, etc.).
- Any urban history (history of cities or urban settlements), including architectural, landscaping and town planning history.
- Any popular cultural history manifested in material culture or architecture, such as Big Things, theme parks, roadside attractions, themed spaces (restaurants, pubs, etc).