Kirsten McKenzie has a BA (Hons), an MA from the University of Cape Town and completed her D Phil at Magdalen College, Oxford in 1997. She began teaching Australian history at the University of Sydney in 2002. Her research interests include comparative British colonial identity in the Cape Colony and New South Wales, scandal and gender, and the construction of celebrity. On Tuesday 17 November 2009, she addressed The Sydney Institute to explain how the antics of a mysterious and brazen swindler known as John Dow – the subject of her book, A Swindler’s Progress – reveal the tension in Australian colonial society between rank attained by birthright and status earned by merit.

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