Rebecca Lindsay – 2023 Recipient of the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Doctoral Thesis Excellence

Rebecca Lindsay is from the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences and is one of the 12 winners of the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Doctoral Thesis Excellence for 2023. Rebecca was supervised by Associate Professor Liz Boase and Associate Professors Christine Winter from Flinders University.

Rebecca’s thesis Settler Reading Postures: Reading Ruth in Settler Colonial Australia came from her reading of the biblical book of Ruth alongside texts and themes from the lands now called Australia asking how Settlers might read biblical texts in decolonising ways. Taking note of what emerged from this process, she offered four reading postures for Settlers from which to read and interpret the Bible and the Australian settler colonial context.

We invited Rebecca to share insights into the PhD journey and what winning this award means.

What does winning this award mean? 

My PhD was part-time over many years. Alongside of my research I worked, my children were born, and it included the lockdowns of Covid. Winning this award feels like a recognition of the effort and work that went into research and completion of my project.

What was the topic of your PhD and why is it important to you?

My research engages the topic of biblical interpretation within the Australian settler colonial context. My starting point was a discomfort at the entanglement of interpretations of the Bible with the colonial project. I wondered about what Settler descendants who read biblical texts, such as myself, might do to shift our interpretive practice so as not to perpetuate colonial structures and racist interpretations. This is important to me because we continue to see the material impacts of colonisation within Australia and within communities for whom the Bible is an important text. Engaging in this research I have sought to unlearn some of my assumptions about how to interpret biblical texts and the Australian context. I have deeply appreciated learning from the writing and research of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholars, poets, and authors.

What was been one of the most enjoyable parts of the journey?

I have had the support of an amazing team of supervisors. One of the highlights of study has been working with Liz Boase and Christine Winter, as well as Dr Jione Havea who stepped in during Liz’s study leave. This team encouraged and supported me. They were excellent conversation partners but also pushed me to develop my ideas and writing.

What’s a highlight of your student life at Flinders?

I have been a distance student, so I need to give an enormous shout out to the library and particularly Send It and Document Delivery teams. Without their support I would not have been able to complete my research.

Where are you now?

I am currently teaching Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at United Theological College which is part of Charles Sturt University’s School of Theology.

What advice would you give to current or prospective PhD students?

  1. Find a research question that holds your passion now and you can imagine holding your passion over a period of years.
  2. Choose your primary supervisor wisely.

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