Dr Margaret Cook | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Dr Margaret Cook

GC-EDHE(2021) CU, PhD Qld., BA (Hons) Qld.

  • Lecturer, History
  • School of Law and Society
+61 5456 5008
Office location
T2.15, Health and Sport Centre, USC Sunshine Coast
Sunshine Coast
Margaret Cook


Margaret is a history lecturer at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). She specialises in the history of ‘natural’ disasters in Australia especially floods and earthquakes. The history of floods in the Brisbane River catchment was the subject of her PhD (UQ 2018) and is now a book, A River with a City Problem: A History of Brisbane Floods (UQ Press, 2019). With Dr Scott McKinnon, Margaret is also co-editor of Disasters in Australia and New Zealand: Historical approaches to understanding catastrophe, a collection of essays on bushfire, flood, cyclones and earthquakes (Palgrave, 2020) and her co-authored book, Cities in a Sunburnt Country, written as part of an ARC Discovery Project (DP180100807) “Water and the making of urban Australia since 1900” led by Associate Professor Andrea Gaynor (UWA) will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2022. Her broad academic areas of interest are environmental and social history and cultural heritage with particular focus on floods, climate, cotton, water, agriculture and gender. Her research focus is environmental and social history.

Margaret has published in the journals History AustraliaConservation and SocietyEnvironment and HistoryInternational Review of Environmental HistoryJournal of Australian Studies, Australasian Journal of Popular Culture and Circa. Her work has been produced online in Australian Politics and HistoryArcadia, Queensland Historical Atlas, Queensland State Archives and a virtual exhibition, “Water Crisis in Australian Cities” on the Environment and Society Portal.

Since 1996 Margaret has conducted a successful consultancy business working in the field of built heritage, producing over 40 conservation management plans and heritage studies and assessments. She was a Board Member of the Queensland Heritage Council (1998-2003, Deputy Chair 2003-2006) and a Councillor of the National Trust of Queensland (1997-2003), serving as Secretary and Vice President. A public historian and an inaugural member of the Professional Historians Association Queensland since 1990, Margaret has published several local histories and worked in oral history and the museum sector

Professional membership

  • Member, Professional Historians Association (Qld)
  • Member, Australian Historical Association (AHA)

Awards / Fellowships

  • 2020 John and Ruth Kerr Medal for Distinction in historiography, historical research and writing
  • 2019 Hon. Research Fellow University of Queensland
  • 2019 Hon. Research Fellow La Trobe University
  • 2019 Australia Historical Association-Copyright Agency Bursary
  • 2018 Highly Commended Circa Prize
  • 2015 John McCulloch Memorial Prize, Highly Commended
  • 2016-2018 Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.
  • 2015 Ipswich Heritage Hall of Fame

Professional Social Media

Research areas

  • floods and other 'natural' disasters
  • cotton in Australia
  • environmental history and gender
  • water politics and administration
  • climate history

Teaching areas

  • Australian History
  • Environmental History
  • McKinnon, S. and Cook, M. (eds.) Disasters in Australia and New Zealand: Historical approaches to understanding catastrophe (London, UK: Palgrave MacMillan, 2020).
  • A River with a City Problem: A History of Brisbane Floods. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press, 2019.
  • Cook, M. “The entanglement of Cotton in Australia, America and England”, Agricultural History, (Forthcoming Fall, 2021).
  • Morgan, Ruth A. and Cook, Margaret, “Gender, Environment and History: New Methods and Approaches in Environmental History”. International Review of Environmental History, Vol. 7, Issue 1, 20201. http://doi.org/10.22459/IREH.07.01.2021.
  • Cook, M. “Emotional Challenges to Masculinity in the 1930s Callide Valley Closer Settlement, Australia’, International Review of Environmental History, Vol. 7, Issue 1, 20201. http://doi.org/10.22459/IREH.07.01.2021.
  • Spearritt, P. & Cook, M. “Water Forever: Warragamba and Wivenhoe Dams”, special edition on urban water in Australia of Australian Historical Studies, http://doi.org/10.1080/1031461X.2021.1882513
  • Cook, M. “Challenging Gender Stereotypes in Queensland’s Callide Valley: settlers, patriarchy and environment”. History Australia. Vol 18, Issue 1,2021. http://doi.org./10.1080/14490854.2021.1878911
  • McKinnon, S. and Cook, M. “Five days of swirling fury: Emotion and memory in newspaper anniversary reports of the 1974 Queensland Floods”. Emotion, Space and Society, 35, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emospa.2020.100685
  • Cook, M. “Perceptions of a ‘Normal’ Climate in Queensland, Australia (1924-34)” in Rural History, 31, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0956793319000219
  • 'It will never happen again’: The myth of flood immunity in Brisbane”. Journal of Australian Studies, 42, 3 (2019): 328-343.
  • “A River with a City Problem, not a City with a River Problem: Brisbane and its Flood-prone River”. Environment and History, 24, 4 (2018): 469-496.
  • Vacating the Floodplain: Urban Property, Engineering, and Floods in Brisbane (194-2011), Conservation and Society, 15, 3 (2017): 344-354.
  • Damming the ‘Flood Evil’ on the Brisbane River. History Australia, 13, 4 (2016) 540-556.
  • "Uncle Sam’s Letterbag: Children’s involvement in newspaper propaganda in the First World War”. Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, 8, 2 (2019): 211-228.

Margaret Cook’s specialist areas of knowledge are environmental and Australian history and non-Indigenous cultural heritage. Her areas of research include the histories of disasters, floods, water and land use in Australia. Her skills include oral history, archival research and encouraging public engagement between communities and history.

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