Australasian Animal Studies Association

Murphy, Michelle

PhD candidate

University of Tasmania
Research interests / activities

Michelle is an historian undertaking her PhD on the Beaumaris Zoo at Battery Point, Hobart, (1901-1921) which examines the unique narratives forged from the interactions between human and non-human worlds in Hobart, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and their contribution to the form and function of ‘Tasmania’ in the Australian historical imagination. She first wrote about animals in the late 1990s in her Honours thesis at the University of Melbourne, which provided a postcolonial reading of the ways animals in Melbourne Zoo in the late 1800s were used in the construction of an ordered, ‘civilized’, Melbourne. She is interested in how people and societies interact with the non-human world, particularly with animals and the environment, in the negotiation and articulation of individual and collective subjectivities. Michelle takes an intersectional approach and sees writing about animals as an act of resistance against the humanistic tendencies of historical writing.


Michelle spent 15 years teaching gifted children aged 4-18. Before that she was a sessional academic staff member in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne where she taught in subjects ranging through cinema studies, Australian history and cross-cultural history.
Michelle presented at the 2019 Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies Conference with a paper entitled: Under her wing: A stroll through Mary Roberts’ menagerie at ‘Beaumaris’, Battery Point, c.1900.