Dr Bianka Vidonja Balanzategui is an adjunct lecturer in History in the College of Arts, Society and Education at James Cook University.  She supervises at undergraduate level and is an active researcher in global sugar industry and Australian migration history. Her research aligns with JCU’s tropical agenda, focussing on two key themes: industries and economies in the tropics and people and societies in the tropics  Bianka’s work has been published in high quality journals and books and is deposited in full with JCU Research Online.

Bianka’s honours thesis published by James Cook University and reprinted by Boolarong Press as Gentlemen of the Flashing Blade originated from her personal and academic interest in the history of labour in the Australian sugar industry in the context of post-World War 2 displaced persons migration.

Her masters thesis was an extension of this interest in the Australia sugar industry, with the subject being the material culture of the Queensland sugar industry. It expanded on research Bianka conducted for a report funded by James Cook University and a National Estate Grant.

Bianka’s PhD thesis Small sugar farmer agency in the tropics 1872 -1914 and the anomalous Herbert River Farmers’ Association examined Australian sugar farmer associational behaviour locating it in its global context. The findings of this thesis were presented at the international conference of the European Rural History Organization on rural representation in the countryside in Leuven in Belgium in 2017.

Bianka’s interest in the role of women within the Australian sugar industry was initiated by her personal circumstances as a sugar farmer’s wife and a request from the Centre for Basque Studies, University of Nevada to contribute a piece, ‘Basking in a Different Sun: The Story of Conchi Mendiolea’, to an anthology, Amatxi, Amuma, Amono: Writings in Honor of Basque Women. Consequently, Bianka has researched and published a Conversation piece on Melanesian indentured labourer Annie Etinside (co-authored with Dr Claire Brennan) and an article on "Female Invisibility in the Male's World of Plantation-Era Tropical North Queensland." For Lilith: A Feminist History Journal.

Bianka continues to research the history of the Australian sugar industry, with her current research interest extending the examination of fictional sugar industry literature, precursed in Gentlemen of the Flashing Blade. Currently she is researching Welsh born John Naish, author and playwright which has resulted in cross-disciplinary collaborations with Associate Professor Victoria Kuttainen and Associate Professor (Adjunct) Cheryl Taylor.  

Bianka has over 30 years’ experience in historical research with proven experience in community collaboration on historical consultancy projects and recognized for timely completion of consultancies. Her consultancy work has included researching and writing story boards for installations and historical walks. Her work has given inspiration for, or material to, an ABC documentary, a play, a Queensland travelling photographic exhibition and an art installation in San Sebastian, Spain. She is regularly invited to be a guest speaker and conduct tours. She has been interviewed for radio discussions and appeared in television documentaries as historical expert.

  • Media and community involvement. Bianka has given radio interviews and had guest appearances on television documentaries. Bianka is motivated to share and promote local history to the wider community via these means
  • Conference attendance presenting papers on tropical north Queensland topics in order to promote and share regional history and to locate it in the global
  • Bianka facilitates community engagement with local history through a Fb page and blog 'Interpreting Ingham History'. She has been the recipient of grants (both as the applicant and the beneficiary via engagement by organizations such as the Townsville and Hinchinbrook Shire Councils, Townsville Catholic Education Office and other bodies) to research for interpretative history signage; public art installations; books; reports, brochures; murals and curriculum documents. Bianka was a founding member of the Herbert River Museum Gallery
  • Further community outreach has seen Bianka invited to give public lectures on north Queensland history; conduct historical tours; write blogs for JCU Special Collections and provide historical content for a display at the Tropical Museum of Queensland, Townsville
  • Australian sugar cane industry history with particular focii being labour (free and indentured); migration; planter and farmer assocations and women
  • Australian migration history with particular interests being post-World War 2 Displaced Person (DP) migration and Spanish Basque migration
  • Australian sugar cane industry literature with current research focused on post-World War 2 Welsh immigrant John Naish, author and playwright
  • Regional history, specifically tropical north Queensland with particular focus on locating the sugar cane industry of the Herbert River district within the global
  • 2023 to present - Thesis supervisor, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2021 to present - Adjunct Lecturer, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 1985 to present - Historian, Independent (Ingham)
  • 1985 to present - Historical Consultant, Independent (Ingham)
  • 2015 to 2021 - Tutor/marker, James Cook University (Townsville)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2017 - Australian Historical Association
  • 2001 - Queensland Professional Historians Association
  • 2023 - Grant: RADF
  • 2019 - APR Internship
  • 1996 to 1998 - Grant: Queensland Community History Grant

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Other research outputs

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 25+ research outputs authored by Dr Bianka Vidonja Balanzategui from 1989 onwards.

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