SHAPS Digest (February 2021)

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

Ángel Alcalde (History) (@Angel_Alcalde_) was interviewed about his research on sexual violence under the Francoist regime in Spain, for Sexual Harms and Medical Encounters (SHaME), an interdisciplinary research project led by Joanna Bourke at Birkbeck, University of London, exploring the role of medicine and psychiatry in sexual violence.

Spotlight On: Dr Ángel Alcalde

Historians Joy Damousi, Marilyn Lake and Tony Ward took part in the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Roundtable in Canberra regarding the Committee’s Inquiry into Nationhood, National Identity and Democracy, having made submissions to the Inquiry (in November 2019). The Committee’s final report, released in February 2021, makes reference to their submissions and contribution to the Roundtable.

Mark Edele (Hansen Chair in History) (@EdeleMark) was interviewed for UkeTube Ukrainian video channel about his forthcoming book, Stalinism at War (Bloomsbury Academic 2021).

Stalinism at War tells the epic story of the Soviet Union in World War Two. Starting with Soviet involvement in the war in Asia and ending with a bloody counter-insurgency in the borderlands of Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltics, the Soviet Union’s war was both considerably longer and more all-encompassing than is sometimes appreciated. Here, acclaimed scholar Mark Edele explores the complex experiences of both ordinary and extraordinary citizens – Russians and Koreans, Ukrainians and Jews, Lithuanians and Georgians, men and women, loyal Stalinists and critics of his regime – to reveal how the Soviet Union and leadership of a ruthless dictator propelled Allied victory over Germany and Japan. In doing so, Edele weaves together material on the society and culture of the wartime years with high-level politics and unites the military, economic and political history of the Soviet Union with broader popular histories from below. The result is an engaging, intelligent and authoritative account of the Soviet Union from 1937 to 1949.

Louise Hitchcock (C&A) published an article with Neos Kosmos on Classics and the fragility of democracy. Reflecting on the invasion of the Capitol on 6 January, she asks: how did the world’s oldest modern democracy reach this point? In the article, she explores the relationship between studying history and pursuing liberty.

Niro Kandasamy (PhD in History, 2019) published an article on the Australian Policy and History website on Australia’s relationship with Sri Lanka, making the case for the need for Australia to take a more active role in the strategically vital Indian Ocean region.

Our recent graduate Jade Smith (BA with double major in History and Ancient World Studies, 2020) was interviewed for ABC Radio National’s The Money (from around 14:46). Jade grew up in Morwell in the Latrobe Valley in a single parent family with no outside income. In the interview, Jade discussed her experience as a student during the pandemic, and how the support of a Smith Family ‘Learning for Life’ scholarship enabled her to complete high school and go on to university.

Jade’s History capstone project examined the industrial history of the Latrobe Valley. She completed her degree with an outstanding WAM of 85.952, and is currently taking a gap year, with plans to return for further study from 2022.


Damon Young (Honorary, Philosophy) (@damonayoung) published a piece of speculative short fiction, Emily (subscriber only), about the American poet Emily Dickinson, in the Saturday Paper.

Damon Young was also interviewed by ABC RN’s Life Matters about his book On Getting Off: Sex and Philosophy (Scribe 2020).

On Getting Off was also reviewed in the Irish Timesand in the Age/Sydney Morning Herald. You can read an extract from the book here.

Academic Publications

Ángel Alcalde (History) published an article, ‘Wartime and Post-War Rape in Franco’s Spain‘, in The Historical Journal.

By examining the experience of rape in Spain in the 1930s and 1940s, this article explains how the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship dramatically increased the likelihood of women becoming victims of sexual assault. Contrary to what historians often assume, this phenomenon was not the result of rape being deliberately used as a ‘weapon of war’ or as a blunt method of political repression against women. The upsurge in sexual violence was a by-product of structural transformations in the wartime and dictatorial contexts, and it was the direct consequence, rather than the instrument, of the violent imposition of a fascist-inspired regime. Using archival evidence from numerous Spanish archives, the article historicises rape in a wider cultural, legal, and social context and reveals the essential albeit ambiguous political nature of both wartime and post-war rape. The experience of rape was mostly shaped not by repression but structural factors such as ruralisation and social hierarchisation, demographic upheavals, exacerbation of violent masculinity models, the proliferation of weapons, and the influence of fascist and national-Catholic ideologies. Rape became an expression of the nature of power and social and gender relations in Franco’s regime.

Oleg Beyda (Hansen Chair Support, History) has a new book on the Second World War, Spanish Sorrow, coming out shortly (in Russian), co-authored with Xosé Nuñez Seixas (University of Santiago de Compostela).

The book introduces the unpublished memoirs of Vladimir Ivanovich Kovalevskii, a White Russian emigrant and a combat veteran who fought in Africa, Russia and Spain. In 1941, in the hope that the new war would liberate the Russians from Stalin, Kovalevskii had enlisted in the Spanish Blue Division (División Azul) and went against his former homeland with Hitler. Shocked by the conduct of the German and Spanish troops, a disillusioned Kovalevskii returned to Spain in 1942. The original manuscript was uncovered by Dr Beyda in 2016 whilst working at the Hoover Institution Archives (Stanford University).

The book was originally published in Spanish in 2019; the Russian version will be out soon. It was reviewed in Labour History by Judith Keene (University of Sydney), who commented that: “The volume is framed by a substantial and erudite introduction to recent historiography of the Nazis and their foreign legions and to the role of the fascist Blue Division within Franco’s dictatorship. This is not conventional military history. Instead, Kovalevski’s reflections on his own soldierly experience, through the complex and contradictory prism of combat participation, fit within the broad genre of the cultural history of war and warfare as exemplified in the fine works of Paul Fussell or Samuel Hynes.”

Purushottama Bilimoria (Principal Fellow, Philosophy) published an article, ‘Hindu Response to Dying and Death in the Time of COVID-19‘ in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

We wake each morning to news on the glaring statistics of people infected by COVID-19 and others reportedly dying from complications thereto; the numbers are not receding in at least a number of countries across the world (barring a few that imposed strict lockdowns, testing and quarantining measures, such as Australia, Singapore, New Zealand and Vietnam). It is hard to imagine a moment such as this that most of us have lived through in our life-time; but it is a reality and public challenge that we can neither ignore nor look away from. In this article I will explore perspectives on death from the Hindu tradition and the kinds of response—and solace or wisdom—afforded by the tradition to the angst and fears evoked by this pandemic situation. In concluding the discussion, I shall offer tentative reflections on how the Hindu perspective may be universalized, such as might invite conversations with therapists and care workers who may be seeking alternative resources to help expand the therapeutic space in more beneficent ways during the Covid-19 pandemic and its after-effects.

Karen Green (Professorial Fellow, Philosophy) published an article, ‘Catharine Macaulay and the Concept of “Radical Enlightenment”’, in Intellectual History Review.

Margaret Jacob and Jonathan Israel have offered somewhat differing accounts of what they call the “Radical Enlightenment”; the elements of enlightenment thought which resulted in the radical political upheavals of the late eighteenth century and the rise of democratic republicanism. Jonathan Israel, in particular, insists that the radical enlightenment was radical both in its secular rejection of all providentialist and teleological metaphysics, as well as radical in its democratic tendencies. This paper looks at the way in which Catharine Macaulay’s very influential defense of the equal rights of men, during the lead up to the American and French revolutions, poses problems for Israel’s account of the radical enlightenment and it argues that the religious foundation of her political radicalism was characteristic of many of her contemporaries, thus fitting in better with Jacob’s more ecumenical account of the radical enlightenment than with Israel’s more purely secular characterization.

Mia Martin Hobbs (PhD in History, 2018) (@miamhobbs) published an article, ‘(Un)naming: Ethics, Agency, and Anonymity in Oral Histories with Veteran-Narrators‘ in Oral History Review.

This article examines the ethics of anonymising interviewees who asked to be named in oral history research. Drawing on my experiences administering a large oral history project with Vietnam veterans, I examine four stages of oral history practice – recruitment, the interview, analysis and interpretation, and publication – and argue that (un)naming interviewees fundamentally changes the terms of their consent. (Un)naming reopens ethical dilemmas at the core of oral history practice: the incongruent goals of the interviewer and interviewees; empowering interviewees and contesting experience; misaligned understandings of sensitivity and taboo; observation and defining off-the-record, interpretive conflict; and unconscious advocacy. However, the digital era creates new and unforeseen consequences of naming interviewees in our research, and our responsibility to protect interviewees from potential ramifications outweighs the ethical dilemmas that (un)naming pose. (Un)naming also reveals complex power dynamics between the interviewer and different interviewees, indicating that interviewers should be more attentive to power differences within the interview group. The most ethical framework for naming may be an individualised approach, led by careful negotiations with each interviewee about the meaning and consequences of their participation in our research.

Kevin Orrman-Rossiter (PhD candidate, History and Philosophy of Science) published an article, ‘Observation and Annihilation: The Discovery of the Antiproton‘, in Physics in Perspective: 

This paper is the first investigation of the events associated with the discovery of the antiproton. The 1955 observation of the antiproton by Owen Chamberlain, Emilio Segrè, Clyde Wiegand, and Thomas Ypsilantis was “no surprise”, in Chamberlain’s words, and might therefore be understood as a classic example of an experimental proof of an existing theory – except there was no complete theory – at best it was a further validation of Dirac’s 1930 prediction of antiparticles. Instead, I argue, it became a contest between the serendipitous observations of cosmic-ray events and the deliberate observation possible with the new accelerator-based experiments. I show that the discovery was an extended event and was seen by the physicists involved as emerging from a combination of supporting experiments – the counter-based detection of antiprotons was accepted as proof of discovery only with the supporting images of antiproton annihilations.

Carla Pascoe Leahy (ARC Discovery Early Career Research Fellow, History) (@C_PascoeLeahy) published an article, ‘Maternal Heritage: Remembering Mothering and Motherhood through Material Culture‘, in International Journal of Heritage Studies.

New motherhood is mediated through the material world. In this liminal, vulnerable period of matrescence, consumption of and interaction with objects co-constitutes the mother and her child. Material culture is central to motherhood, as mothers negotiate preparation, mastery and memorialisation of their maternal role through objects. While some objects are used once then discarded, other objects are saved for longer periods, either by individuals within private collections or by curators in cultural institutions. In preserving certain aspects of the material culture with which mothers interact, a form of maternal heritage is created which is inescapably partial. This article examines the ways in which mothers, mothering and motherhood are preserved and memorialised in public and private collections. It analyses maternal material culture in cultural institutions alongside personal archives, drawing out the synchronies and divergences between them as well as the ways in which material culture has changed since the mid-twentieth century. It concludes by discussing the ways in which the maternal heritage constituted through institutional and private archiving makes possible certain aspects of the history of mothers while obscuring others.

Garry Young (Honorary Senior Fellow, Philosophy) has published a new book, Fictional Immorality and Immoral Fiction(Lexington Books, 2021).

It is commonplace for fictional content to depict immoral activities: the kidnapping of a politician, for example, or the elaborate theft of a national treasure, or perhaps the gruesome proclivities of a sadistic murderer. These and similar depictions can be found across a range of media, and in varying degrees of detail and realism. Fictional Immorality and Immoral Fiction examines potential conditions for transforming fictional immorality into immoral fiction, in order to establish what makes a depiction of fictional immorality and/or one’s engagement with it immoral. To achieve this aim, Garry Young analyses fictional content, its meaning, one’s motivation for engaging with it, and the medium in which the fiction is presented (such as film, literature, theatre, video games) using philosophical inquiry. The end result is a systematic examination of fictional immorality, which contributes toward debates on the morality of depicting and engaging with fictional immorality, as well as the reach of censorship and other forms of prohibition, especially when the act depicted is of the kind that would be most egregious if carried out in reality.

Appointments & Awards

Associate Professor Kate McGregor has been appointed the Deputy Associate Dean (International-Indonesia) in the Faculty of Arts. Building on her work as the co-coordinator of the Faculty of Arts Indonesia Initiative, which has hosted 23 Indonesian visitors to the university since 2013 and significantly strengthened our teaching and research collaborations, Kate will seek to provide opportunities across the faculty for increased internationalisation. She will be working with Professor Tim Lynch (Associate Dean International), the Faculty’s International Committee and the strong group of Indonesia-focused researchers in the Indonesia Strategic Engagement Group to enhance our reputation across the region for producing, collaborating and sharing research on Indonesia on the basis of equal research partnerships.

In this role Kate is keen to work with staff and students to enhance and expand the faculty’s teaching and research collaborations especially with our lead partners: the University of Indonesia and the University of Gajah Mada. To enhance student engagement with Indonesia, she will consult with undergraduate and postgraduate Indonesian students studying with us to formulate plans for promoting stronger connections and learning opportunities between local students, other international students and Indonesian students. To facilitate new forms of staff engagement with Indonesia, for those who do not yet have connections, she will explore research synergies across arts programs in Indonesia with those in our faculty and seek opportunities to host focused dialogues on issues of relevance to both Australia and Indonesia.

Associate Professor Kate McGregor has also commenced a two-year term as president of the Asian Studies Association of Australia, the leading association for Australian-based scholars and students working on Asia. In this role she will continue to support the field of Asia focused research across Australia.

Niro Kandasamy (PhD in History 2019) has been awarded a 2021 Australian Historical Association Copyright Agency Early Career Mentorship. The award will support Niro’s research project examining the trauma histories of young Tamil refugee people and their barriers to education in Australia during the 1980s and 1990s. Drawing on oral histories with young Tamil refugee people, the project explores their racialised experiences in Australian schools towards developing better understandings of the interplay between education, refugee resettlement and trauma history.

Chloe Ward (PhD in History, 2016; now research officer in the EU Centre of Excellence at RMIT University) (@DrChlod) has been awarded the Alan Roberts Prize for her essay on ‘The Limits of Science Communication‘.

Monte Cairns, who completed Honours in History and Philosophy of Science in 2020, has been accepted into Peterhouse at the University of Cambridge, to study for an MPhil in History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine. His research interests, as significantly encouraged by his Honours supervisor, Kristian Camilleri, primarily concern integrating historical study with the substantiation and generation of philosophical claims. He currently hopes to spend time investigating the history of conceptual change in chemistry, in hope of both improving historical knowledge and providing insight into some dynamics of scientific progress. Monte is also interested in the development of philosophically conducive historiographic devices, and hopes to investigate the potential for reorienting contemporary ‘hinge epistemology’ to that end.

Classics and Archaeology PhD student Gemma Lee has recently started a position with Tardis Archaeology, working as an archaeologist and heritage advisor. Gemma is also currently in the final year of studies for her PhD, which examines the use of archaeological collections in tertiary education. She is primarily interested in evaluating the effectiveness of archaeological artefacts as teaching and learning tools in object-based learning scenarios.

Teaching News

This summer students of Intensive Beginners Latin (CLAS20021/30004) lived and breathed Latin every weekday for seven weeks, having the very twenty-first-century experience of learning a dead language entirely online. They enjoyed being able to step into the thoughts of Stoics like Seneca (“You will stop feeling afraid if you stop having expectations for the future”), and dreaming in Latin as they endeavoured to master all the grammar. Intensive Beginners Latin provided a direct gateway straight to the heart of the weird and wonderful ancient world.

Beginning of Seneca the Younger’s Letters (Epistulae morales ad Lucilium). Fifteenth-century Latin manuscript. In ms. Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 45.33, fol. 1r, via Wikimedia Commons


Intensive Beginners Latin Coordinator, 2021. Teaching Specialist Dr Edward Jeremiah

In our City Visions summer intensive (HIST20087) students enjoyed a range of engaging online modules and interactions including quizzes, primary source treasure hunts, archive orientations, expert panels, and virtual walking tours. The topic of how cities deal with challenges such as the pandemic provided students with much food for thought.



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

Feature image: Beginning of Seneca the Younger’s Letters (Epistulae morales ad Lucilium). Fifteenth-century Latin manuscript. In ms. Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 45.33, fol. 1r (detail) via Wikimedia Commons