Historian and political theorist Professor Bruce Buchan and Swedish colleague Dr Linda Andersson Burnett have been awarded more than $600,000 for a new research project that cuts to the core of humanity.

The Borders of Humanity: Linnaean Natural Historians and the Colonial Legacies of the Enlightenment” will examine the relationship between ‘universal humanity’ and 18th Century colonialism,” Professor Buchan said.

“It will trace the definitional limits at the core of the concept of humanity.

“These limits were mapped by locating a series of borders — between peoples, tribes, men and women, nations and states, between humans and animals.”

The project will explore case studies of knowledge-formation and circulation in colonial engagements within Europe (Sápmi and Scottish Highlands) and with Creole and Indigenous peoples in Asia, America and Australia.

Funded by Sweden’s Riksbankens Jubilieumsfond, an independent foundation that aims to promote and support research in the humanities and social sciences, the highly competitive project was one of just four history grants awarded nationally.

Professor Buchan is Distinguished Visiting Chair in Australian Studies at the University of Copenhagen until January 2016, where he is teaching a course on the global and intellectual history of Australia’s initial colonisation.