SHAPS Digest (November 2020)

A monthly roundup of media commentary, publications and projects, and other news from across the School community.

James Lesh (PhD in History, 2018, and now Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Architectural History, Urban and Cultural Heritage) (@jameslesh) and Kali Myers (SCC) commented in the Age on the Royal Exhibition Buildings and Carlton Gardens, asking: what does it means for a twenty-first-century Australian city to have a monument to the British Empire at its centre?

Mia Martin Hobbs (PhD in History, 2018) (@miamhobbs) commented on the ADF Afghanistan Inquiry report, tracing parallels to atrocities committed by US and Australian forces in the Vietnam War.

History PhD candidate Jessie Matheson (@jessiematho) published ‘”Fattening” History: Reading Archives of Fat Women‘, on the Australian Women’s History Network blog, exploring how ‘out-sized’ rural women used the women’s pages of a 1930s newspaper to counter discourses about their bodies.

Andy May (History) spoke to Channel 9 News about Marvellous Melbourne’s history.

Molly Mckew (PhD in History 2019) published an article in Overland about the history of sharehousing and counterculture in 1970s Melbourne.

Tim Parkin (Classics & Archaeology) commented in the Guardian on the negative connotations of mining company Adani’s new name, ‘Bravus’, mistakenly assumed to mean ‘courageous’ in medieval Latin.

Tyson Retz (PhD in History, 2016, now Associate Professor of History Education at the University of Stavanger in Norway) (@tysonretz) took part in the international project #PastFwd: Agendas for History Education, delivering a talk on ‘The Question of Scale in History and History Education’.

Our former student and tutor Olivia Tasevski wrote about Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court appointment for SBS. Olivia is currently a tutor in the School of Social and Political Sciences.

Gijs Tol (Classics & Archaeology) and Jeremy Armstrong (Auckland) published a blog post about the Mediterranean Archaeology Australasian Research Community (MAARC), a new initiative connecting Australasian archaeologists working in the Mediterranean.

Peter Yule (Honorary in History) was interviewed for ABC Radio National’s Saturday Extra about his book, The Long Shadow: Australia’s Vietnam Veterans since the War (NewSouth 2020).

The latest issue of Australian Historical Studies (51:4 [2020]) features reviews of two recent books: Becoming John Curtin and James Scullin: The Making of the Modern Labor Party, 1876–1921, by Liam Byrne (Honorary Fellow in History); and A Networked Community: Jewish Melbourne in the Nineteenth Century by Sue Silberberg (PhD in History, 2015), reviewed by Ariele Hoffman (MA in History 2013 and current PhD candidate).


Damon Young (Associate in Philosophy) published a new book, On Getting Off: Sex and Philosophy (Scribe 2020), exploring what philosophers have had to say about sex and intimacy.

Lazos de Sangre (2010), a book by Angel Alcalde (History) on wartime urban mobilisation in the Spanish Civil War, is now available for free download on the publishers’ website. The book features a wealth of documents and photographs.

Heather Dalton (Honorary Fellow in History) and Jenny Spinks (Hansen Senior Lecturer in History) both have chapters in a new edited volume, Matters of Engagement: Emotions, Identity, and Cultural Contact in the Premodern World, edited by Daniela Hacke, Claudia Jarzebowski and Hannes Ziegler (Routledge):

Heather Dalton, ‘Santiago Matamoros/Mataindios: Adopting an Old World Battlefield Apparition as a New World Representation of Triumph’:

On the Iberian Peninsula, Saint James the Greater is often portrayed wielding a sword and astride a rearing white steed trampling cowering ‘Moors’ underfoot. This violent image became seared into the national psyche with the Reconquista and conquest of the Americas and Philippines. From the early seventeenth century, images of the saint in Mexico and Peru portrayed his victims as “Indians”. This chapter explores the motivations behind these, concluding that, while in Spain he is still a potent martial symbol for opposing ‘The Other’, in Central and South America Santiago is a folk hero – epitomising subversion of defeat.

Jenny Spinks, ‘Riding the Juggernaut: Embodied Emotions and ‘Indian’ Ritual Processions through European Eyes, c. 1300–1600′:

This chapter examines European depictions of the so-called Indian juggernaut, a type of religious procession in which the bodies of ecstatic Hindu worshippers were supposedly crushed under the wheels of wagons bearing statues of Hindu gods. Reports of the juggernaut by European travellers to India were initially fed through Mediterranean Europe, but gained polemical traction in northern European contexts, especially in the sixteenth century and against the backdrop of reformation conflict. Visual and textual European representations of the juggernaut in late medieval and early modern Europe sought to trigger sensory and emotional responses, and reveal an anxious fascination with the representation of religious worship in non-Christian settings. But they also recognisably tap into domestic traditions of political and religious public processions in early modern Europe. This chapter explores how Europeans compared the juggernaut to Christian religious rituals like Corpus Christi and flagellant processions, and the long tradition of Bacchic imagery. This chapter unpacks how European Christians created their own version of the ‘Indian’ juggernaut in order to explore domestic religious anxieties during a period of intense religious change.

Joy Damousi (History) with Deborah Tout-Smith (Museums Victoria) and Bart Ziino (Deakin University) have a new edited volume, Museums, History and the Intimate Experience of the Great War. Love and Sorrow (Routledge):

The Great War of 1914–1918 was fought on the battlefield, on the sea and in the air, and in the heart. Museums Victoria’s exhibition World War I: Love and Sorrow exposed not just the nature of that war, but its depth and duration in personal and familial lives. Hailed by eminent scholar Jay Winter as “one of the best which the centenary of the Great War has occasioned”, the exhibition delved into the war’s continuing emotional claims on descendants and on those who encounter the war through museums today. Contributors to this volume, drawn largely from the exhibition’s curators and advisory panel, grapple with the complexities of recovering and presenting difficult histories of the war. In eleven essays the book presents a new, more sensitive and nuanced narrative of the Great War, in which families and individuals take centre stage. Together they uncover private reckonings with the costs of that experience, not only in the years immediately after the war, but in the century since.

Jackie Dickenson (Honorary Fellow in History) and Kate Darian-Smith (UTAS) published an article, ‘University Education and the Quest for the Professionalisation of Journalism in Australia Between the World Wars’Media History 

The crisis of World War One, including the challenges of reporting from the fighting front, sparked public discussion about the reliability and status of journalism. In response, unprecedented changes to the education of journalists were introduced around the world, including in Australia. By the 1920s, the majority of Australian universities offered a Diploma in Journalism, developed in collaboration with the Australian Journalists’ Association (AJA). Yet despite the AJA’s commitment to developing professional standards, by 1945 these courses were either defunct or struggling. This article explores the introduction and subsequent failure of tertiary journalism education in the context of discussions within the AJA about educational ‘relevance’, and whether journalists required improved ‘thinking’ or improved ‘skills’. Analysis of the establishment of these university courses highlights debates around the professionalism, status, and ethical practice of journalism in the interwar years, at a time when the newspaper industry was expanding.

Julie Fedor (History) and Tomas Sniegon (Lund University) have a chapter, ‘The Butovskii Shooting Range: History of an Unfinished Museum’, in Stephen M. Norris (ed.), Museums of Communism: New Memory Sites in Central and Eastern Europe (Indiana University Press 2020). This edited collection has been praised by Slavenka Drakulic: “This book is precious because it demonstrates how people from former communist countries reconstructed their past after 1989 – this time in museums. These reconstructions used horrible pasts, invented pasts, pasts built on memories and emotions, on myths and even reality, but always only the past, not history.”

The chapter by Fedor and Sniegon examines the recent history of Butovskii poligon, one of the most important known sites of Stalin-era mass graves, located on the southern outskirts of Moscow. The chapter traces the history of competing attempt to frame, define and claim ownership of the site since its discovery in the early 1990s.

Max Kaiser (PhD in History, 2019) published a book chapter, ‘Zionism, Assimilationism and Antifascism: Divergent International Jewish Pathways in Three Post-War Australian Jewish Magazines’, in Catherine Dewhirst and Richard Scully (eds), The Transnational Voices of Australia’s Migrant and Minority Press (Palgrave Macmillan 2020).

In the immediate post-war period, Jewish communities worldwide sought to draw political lessons from the events of the Holocaust, the rise of fascism and the Second World War. At the same time, diasporic Jewish communities were struggling to create new political frameworks to understand the establishment of the State of Israel. In Australia, these conditions produced an intense level of cultural and political debate in the Jewish community. This chapter examines three major Jewish magazines of this period: UnityThe Zionist; and The Australian Jewish Outlook. These magazines reflected different perspectives on Jewish politics, representing antifascist, Zionist and assimilationist ideas, respectively. A central feature of these magazines was a transnational political imagination. The issues of Jews in Australia were refracted through an international lens.

James Lesh (PhD in History, 2018, now ACCHUCH) published an article, ‘Melbourne’s Federation Square and its Heritage Discontents, 1994–2002’, Fabrications. The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand.

From its 1994 conception to its 2002 realisation, Federation Square generated an intense public dispute between groups associated with architecture and conservation. Created by London-based LAB Architecture Studio following a design competition and located at the southern gateway to central Melbourne, Federation Square was a notable example of late-twentieth-century public architecture. It functioned as a civic and national monument and incorporated a sophisticated design response to its immediate physical and broader symbolic contexts. However, conservation activists the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) opposed Federation Square and specifically “the shard”, a structure which partially obstructed historical southern view lines into the city and St Paul’s Cathedral (1891). Rather than aiming to prevent demolition and conserve historic fabric, the National Trust sought to shape the future impacts of this experimental architectural response to the urban historic environment. Progressive sections of Melbourne’s design community rallied around LAB Architecture Studio because the integrity of architecture appeared to be at stake. Civic populism and political opportunism generated a final negotiated outcome. This article argues that this major public space architectural project was shaped by an expansive urban politics of heritage revealing broader concerns about the role of architecture and conservation in Melbourne at the time.

Richard Pennell (History) published an article, “Born-Digital Sources for the History of the Libyan Revolution and Its Aftermath“, in Libyan Studies.

Archival material on the Libyan revolution and the civil war that followed is very scarce. This article discusses two born digital collections – the Libya Uprising Archive of tweets collected during the rising against Qaddafi, and the collections of asylum appeal tribunals in several English-speaking liberal democracies. Neither collection has been extensively used. It describes how the collections were formed, and the difficulties of using them and, for each, provides a short case study to illustrate these points. For the Libya Uprising Archive the case study is of tweets put out on the day Qaddafi was killed (20 October 2011), for the asylum tribunals the case study is of evidence provided by claimants about the importance or otherwise of tribalism as a factor that put individuals in danger.

Howard Sankey (Philosophy) published an article, “Laudan, Intuition and Normative Naturalism“, in Organon.

The aim of this paper is to document Laudan’s rejection of the appeal to intuition in the context of his development of normative naturalism. At one point in the development of his methodological thinking, Laudan appealed to pre-analytic intuitions, which might be employed to identify episodes in the history of science against which theories of scientific methodology are to be tested. However, Laudan came to reject this appeal to intuitions, and rejected this entire approach to the evaluation of a theory of method. This is an important stage in the development of his normative naturalist meta-methodology.

Jordy Silverstein (Honorary Fellow in History) published an article, ‘Refugee Children, Boats and Drownings: A History of an Australian ‘Humanitarian’ Discourse‘, in History Australia.

What are the stories of humanitarianism that Australians tell? What are the ‘collective narratives’ that create an imaginary of Australia as shaped by a culture of humanitarianism? This article explores one such story: that ‘we must stop the boats of asylum seekers so the children don’t drown’. This is a twenty-first-century narrative told by governments, media and the public that has served to create an idea of a ‘we’ who are in control and know best. In this article I move through the history of the development of this narrative, providing an exploration of when and how it emerged. I think through this narrative’s reliance on, and exploitation and further production of, humanitarian discourses and cultures, analysing the ways that it invokes a highly sentimental and racialised idea of who refugee and asylum-seeking children are and what they are imagined to need from the Australian state and public. Finally, I locate this narrative and discourse within a history of settler-colonial projects that work to create an image of Australia as a nation of ‘white saviours’, policy-makers as ‘good caring humanitarians’, and non-white children as requiring the ‘benevolent care’ of white governments.

Marama Whyte (Associate in History), ‘”The Worst Divorce Case that Ever Happened”: The New York Times Women’s Caucus and Workplace Feminism‘, Modern American History,

In 1974, women at the New York Times made national headlines when they filed a class-action sex discrimination lawsuit. The drama of the court case, however, has overshadowed the formation of the Times Women’s Caucus two years prior, in 1972. A focus on the Caucus, the daily labor its members undertook in the years before and after filing suit, and the behind-the-scenes negotiation of internal office politics reveals the years-long process of consciousness raising and workplace organising required to undertake a lawsuit in this novel legal area. Activist newswomen operated with unique restrictions and necessarily distanced themselves from the feminist movement, while quietly advocating for feminist goals. Caucus members drew from the feminist, labor, and union movements strategically rather than ideologically, and laid the foundation for substantial shifts in women’s participation and representation in the mainstream media.

Awards & Appointments

André Brett (PhD in History 2014, currently Vice-Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow in History at the University of Wollongong) (@DrDreHistorian) won the 2020 Friends of Wollongong City Libraries Local History Prize  for his paper on the history of railways and the environment in Illawarra between the 1870s and 1915.

Dr Claudia Sagona. Photograph © Donna Storey, 2018
Dr Claudia Sagona. Photograph © Donna Storey, 2018

Principal Fellow Claudia Sagona (Classics & Archaeology) was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. This award recognises Dr Sagona’s research in archaeology of the Maltese Archipelago, household and funerary archaeology, and concepts of ethnicity.

History PhD candidate Amy Hodgson has been awarded a Yale Fox International Fellowship. This exchange scheme is designed to support outstanding gradate researchers whose work addresses urgent problems and has the potential to make a positive impact in the world. The Fellowship will support Amy’s research into the history of Chile’s post-dictatorship truth commissions.

Honorary Fellow in History Marilyn Lake‘s book Progressive New World: How Settler Colonialism and Transpacific Exchange Shaped American Reform (Harvard University Press 2019) has been shortlisted for the 2020 Prime Minister’s prize in Australian History.

Eden Smith and Hannah Fraser from the repliCATS project won a Commendation from the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science (SIPS) for ‘Resources for Discussing Racism within the Sciences‘, a curated list of resources to help those facilitating small-group discussions about the impacts of racism in past and present scientific practices.

Marama Whyte (Associate in History) received a Dean’s Citation for Excellence in Tutorials with Distinction for the subject “History Beyond the Classroom” at Sydney University. As part of this course, students developed a public history project with a local community organisation.

Lian Zhou, who recently completed his PhD in Philosophy, has been appointed to a postdoctoral position at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

ARC 2021 Discovery Project Grants

A number of new research projects in SHAPS received funding in the latest round:

Kate McGregor (History) and Ana Dragojlovic (SCC – Gender Studies): Submerged Histories: Memory Activism in Indonesia and the Netherlands. This project aims to investigate the recent emergence of joint Indonesian and Dutch activism to demand recognition of submerged and marginalised cases of historical violence, economic exploitation and racism. This project expects to generate new knowledge in the interdisciplinary field of memory studies by discovering the motivations, strategies and future plans of these unique forms of collaboration. Expected outcomes of this project include new insights into how these activists are affecting change in public institutions such as museums and setting trends in global social movements. This should provide significant benefits for understanding how memory activism is changing complex multi-ethnic societies.

Jennifer Spinks (History), Charles Zika (History) and Matthew Champion (ACU): Albrecht Dürer’s Material World – in Melbourne, Manchester and Nuremberg. This project aims to analyse prints in the world-class collection of the iconic Nuremberg artist, Albrecht Dürer, in Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria, and to track their 20th-century migration as objects of civic identity from Manchester to Melbourne. A focus on Dürer’s fascination with the technology and craft of objects aims to show how his creativity was rooted in the vibrant entrepreneurial climate of Nuremberg c.1500 and to provide a new scholarly path for exploring the relationship between prints and material culture. Expected outcomes include major collaborative articles, an agenda-setting book, exhibitions, website, and community masterclass. These will benefit ongoing research, museums and galleries, and the broader public.

Frederik Vervaet: Augustus and the Roman Triumph: A Study in Creeping Authoritarianism. This proposal aims to produce novel comparative insights into the genesis of despotism in sophisticated republics and democracies. To this end, it focuses on the transformation of the public victory ritual of the triumph from a shared aristocratic privilege into a lasting imperial monopoly by Augustus, Rome’s first emperor. Enhancing our knowledge of the rise and inner workings of Augustus’ New Order will provide modern political science with a new archetype of creeping authoritarianism, readily applicable to some of the most notorious tyrannies of the modern era and contemporary variants. The proposal will, therefore, substantially inform the field, theorists and practitioners of government, and Australia’s secondary school curriculum. DP210100870

Miranda Stewart (Melbourne Law School), Dan Halliday (Philosophy) and H. Brennan: Sharing the Wealth: Tax and Justice in The Slow Growth Era. This project aims to address fundamental problems of injustice in taxation emerging in the transition to a slow growth economy in Australia and globally. The project applies interdisciplinary approaches to generate new knowledge that aims to update frameworks for justice in taxation, refreshing out-dated 20th century ethical and legal approaches. Collaborative legal and philosophy analysis by leading scholars in Australia and the United States will respond to contemporary conditions of slow growth, wage stagnation, wealth inequality, population aging and longevity. Project outcomes will include tax reform proposals to benefit policy makers and enrich public debate on tax justice for 21st century economic and fiscal conditions.

Filip Slaveski (Deakin); Stephen Wheatcroft (History); Hiroaki Kuromiya (Indiana); and Yuri Shapoval (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine): The Last Soviet Famine, 1946/47: Drought and Food Crises in War’s Aftermath. This project aims to increase our understanding of the relationship between drought and famine by analysing the most recent, though least understood famine in Soviet and Modern European History. This famine followed a massive drought in the summer of 1946 across the western Soviet Union and led to the deaths of at least one million people. This research is timely given the growing threats to food security, markets and trade posed by the increasing incidence of severe and enduring drought in Australia and globally. The expected outcome of this research is to produce new historical knowledge with contemporary application to better inform policy approaches with the expected benefit of reducing the threat of food crises emerging from drought.

Congratulations to all the successful applicants! And commiserations to those whose projects were not funded this time.

SHAPS staff, fellows, students, alumni: if you have news items for the monthly SHAPS digest, please email us the details.

Feature image: Royal Exhibition Building, photo by Athena Lao, via Wikimedia Commons