SHAPS Digest (June 2021)

Liam Byrne (Honorary, History), published an article, ‘How Social Democracy Lost the Future‘, in Renewal: A Journal of Social Democracy blog.

Heather Dalton (Honorary, History) and her work investigating the appearance of a cockatoo in a fifteenth-century Italian painting was featured in the New YorkerThis work has shed important new light on the history of trade routes between Australasia and the rest of the world. Heather Dalton’s cockatoo was also the subject of a TikTok video by Mary McGillivray, a University of Melbourne Art History graduate who has acquired a huge following for her video essays on visual culture.

Joy Damousi, Stuart Macintyre, Andrew May, Peter McPhee and Peter Yule were among the signatories to an open letter to the Prime Minister, ‘Saving the Nation’s Memory Bank’, expressing dismay at the government’s failure to adequately fund the National Archives of Australia. This advocacy led to a successful outcome last week when the National Archives were allocated $67.7 million in federal funding.

Antonia Finnane (Professorial Fellow, History) led the team that produced a new report, Australian-Asian Research Collaborations in the Humanities: Mapping the Present, Planning the Future, recently released by the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

Catherine Gay (Hansen PhD Scholar in History) wrote an article for Museums Victoria, ‘A Discovery of Stitches: Needlework and 19th-Century Girlhood‘.

Louise Hitchcock (Classics & Archaeology) was interviewed on Theran Civilisation during the Bronze Age, for Andrew Schiestel’s Ithaca Bound program.

Max Kaiser (PhD in History, 2019) (@maxyka) interviewed Mariusz Kałczewiak about his book Polacos in Argentina: Polish Jews, Interwar Migration, and the Emergence of Transatlantic Jewish Culture (University of Alabama Press 2020) for New Books Network: New Books in Jewish Studies. 

Niro Kandasamy (PhD in History, 2019, now Lecturer at the Australian Catholic University) (@Niro_Kan) published an article in the Conversation explaining why Tamil asylum seekers need protection and how the Australian government’s position on this issue has been shaped by its security relationship with Sri Lanka.

Holly Lawford-Smith (Philosophy) wrote the script for a video about the ideas of American radical feminist philosopher Mary Daly (1928–2010). In her book Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation (1973), Mary Daly talks about women as a sex caste, argues that women themselves are complicit in their own caste status, and puts forward a vision for sisterhood as a step toward women’s liberation. Production of the video was supported by the 2020 Faculty of Arts Research Rapid Funding Scheme.

Tamara Lewit (Honorary, Classics & Archaeology) was interviewed for ABC Evenings with David Astle (from around 9:30 via the link) about her research into Roman childhood for Anna Ciddor’s historical novel for children, The Boy Who Stepped Through Time, set in fourth-century Gaul.

Jessie Matheson (PhD candidate, History) was interviewed for the Ducks on the Pond Rural Women’s Podcast, a new podcast launched in the lead-up to Rural Women’s Day, and covering a range of issues related to rural women. In this first episode, the historical, cultural and social implications of women calling themselves ‘farmers’ is discussed.

Jessie’s work explores the cultural and political history of women on the land across the twentieth century. In this podcast she discusses some of the historical barriers women have faced to publicly identifying themselves as farmers.

Andy May (History) commented in the Age on the myth of Melbourne’s north-south divide and the role that myths and cliches of this kind play in how we imagine our environment and our relationship to it.

Iain McIntyre (PhD in History, 2018) was interviewed by Perth Indymedia about his new book, Environmental Blockades (on which see further below).


Greg Restall (Philosophy) reflected on nineteen years in the Philosophy program at the University of Melbourne, ahead of leaving to take up a chair at the University of St Andrews.

Jordy Silverstein (Honorary, History) delivered a talk for the Migration, Refugees and Statelessness Seminar Series, hosted by the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness and the Melbourne Social Equity Institute. The talk was titled, ‘”We don’t want to give away how you hack the system”: An Emotional History of the Department of Immigration and Child Refugees’. A video recording of the talk is available on the Melbourne Social Equity Institute’s website.

Caroline Tully (Honorary, Classics & Archaeology) was interviewed about Pagan traditions in the Southern hemisphere, for Compass, the ABC’s Religion & Ethics program.

Academic Publications:

Tony Coady (Emeritus Professor of Philosophy) published a new book, The Meaning of Terrorism (Oxford University Press).

In this book, Tony Coady clarifies competing and confusing definitions of terrorism, and of terrorist acts, that proliferate in specialist publications as well as in popular discourse. Coady aims to construct a concept of a terrorist act that both reflects a central core of these different understandings, which provides for a more coherent and fruitful discussion of terrorism and its moral and political significance. The goal is therefore not only to gain clarity about what the term designates, but also to probe various dimensions of the moral meaning of our understanding of terrorism for complex social and political circumstances.

The opening chapters sketch the commonly propounded definitions, and propose what Coady calls a ‘tactical definition’, with a focus on terrorist acts as violent attacks upon non-combatants or innocents. The benefits of such an approach are laid out, and defences against numerous objections that can be and have been made to it are given. The book critically discusses theorists who argue that, independent of its definition, terrorist acts have a special, and profoundly disturbing, moral significance. Coady explores the scope and meaning of non-combatant status and its relation to recent controversies in the philosophy of war, and discusses important attempted philosophical defences of terrorism for certain contexts. The book closes with a discussion of the moral challenges facing attempts at counter-terrorism, and examines the commonly held view that religion is particularly prone to cause terrorism or some of its most extreme manifestations.

Karen Green (Professorial Fellow, Philosophy) published Joan of Arc and Christine de Pizan’s Ditié (Rowman & Littlefield).

Grounded in a close reading of the records of Joan’s trial and rehabilitation, on the early letters announcing her arrival at Chinon, and on three literary works: Christine de Pizan’s Ditié; Martin le Franc’s Le Champion des dames; and Alain Chartier’s Traité de l’Esperance, this controversial work argues that serious historians should accept that Joan was trained. It proposes that she was identified and taught how to behave in the expectation of the fulfilment of the Charlemagne Prophecy and other prophecies from the Joachite tradition. It explores the possibility that Christine de Pizan, who had been promoting these prophecies from the beginning of the century, had some hand in the process that resulted in Joan’s appearance and demonstrates, at the very least, that there are many links connecting Christine de Pizan to the knights who fought with Joan.

Supported by a Gilbert Postdoctoral Career Development Fellowship, Dennis Wettenhall prize winner Iain McIntyre (PhD in History, 2018) has a new book out based on his thesis. Entitled Environmental Blockades: Obstructive Direct Action and the History of the Environmental Movement, it is a comparative history exploring how activists in Australia, Canada and the United States sought to protect biodiverse places like rivers, beaches and old growth forests from the late 1970s onwards. It covers numerous campaigns, includes insights from more than 30 interviewees and analyses the emergence and adaption of tactics like tree sitting and lock-ons.

You can read and listen to some of the interviews that contributed to the book at The Commons Social Change Library.

The book was published as part of the Routledge Transforming Environmental Politics and Policy series. A discount of 20% on the book can be obtained by using the code SOC21 at the Routledge website.

Dang Nguyen (PhD candidate, HPS) published an article, ‘The Network Life of Non-Biomedical Knowledge: Mapping Vietnamese Traditional Medicine Discourses on Facebook‘, in Journal of Digital Social Research.

Traditional medicine is hugely popular throughout Southeast Asia and other parts of the world. The development of the internet and online social networks in these contexts has enabled a significant proliferation of non-biomedical knowledge and practices via platforms such as Facebook. People use Facebook to advocate for non-biomedical alternatives to unaffordable biomedicine, share family medical recipes, discuss medicinal properties of indigenous plants, buy and sell these plants, and even crowdsource disease diagnoses.

This paper examines the network characteristics of, and discourses present within, three popular Vietnamese non-biomedical knowledge Facebook sites over a period of five years. These large-scale datasets are studied using social network analysis and generative statistical models for topic analysis (Latent Dirichlet allocation). Forty-nine unique topics were quantitatively identified and qualitatively interpreted. Among these topics, themes of religion and philanthropy, critical discussions of traditional medicine, and negotiations involving overseas Vietnamese were particularly notable. Although non-biomedical networks on Facebook are growing both in terms of scale and popularity, sub-network comment activities within these networks exhibit ‘small world’ characteristics. This suggests that social media seem to be replicating existing social dynamics that historically enable the maintenance of traditional forms of medical knowledge, rather than transforming them here.

Gijs Tol (Classics & Archaeology) co-authored an article with Tymon de Haas (Leiden University) and Peter Attema (University of Groningen),Terra sigillata in southern Latium. The evidence from the Pontine Region Project, 1987–2014′, in the journal Palaeohistoria. This is the first of a series of publications by the authors to systematically disclose the wealth of material evidence collected during some 30 years of fieldwork in the Pontine region by the Pontine Region Project. This project has, since its inception in the mid-1980s, investigated more than 36 km2 of terrain across all major geomorphological units of the region, largely by means of systematic surface investigations. During these investigations, close to 200,000 artefacts were collected for further study, including around 1,660 fragments of (Italian) terra sigillata, the emblematic, shiny red fine tableware of the Early Imperial period (production c40/30BCE–140/150CE, from the reigns of Augustus to Hadrian). In this article, we present a detailed spatial and contextual analysis of the terra sigillata fragments that have been gathered within the Pontine Region Project and discuss the results in light of economic issues (market integration, economic growth). We then supplement this evidence by published evidence of name stamps from surrounding areas to further expose to what extent, and in what ways, the different parts of southern Latium were embedded in the long-distance economic networks of the period.

Gijs Tol also co-authored (with Astrid van Oyen [Cornell University] and Rhodora G. Vennarucci [University of Arkansas]) a book chapter, ‘The Missing Link. A Nucleated Rural Centre at Podere Marzuolo (Cinigiano-Grosseto)’, in A. Sebastiani and C. Megale (eds.), Archaeological Landscapes of Roman Etruria. Research and Field Papers (Brepols 2021).

This article presents a first discussion of the results of the excavations of the Marzuolo Archaeological Project (2016–2019) at the site of Podere Marzuolo (Tuscany, Italy). This site, extending across 2.5ha on a natural plateau bordering the Orcia river, presents itself as a so-called nucleated rural centre, a strongly understudied class of sites for the Roman world that was essential in the provisioning of everyday goods and services to rural areas. Work until now has focused on a large complex in the northwestern sector of the site that was constructed in early Augustan (ruled 27/31BCE–14CE) times, and – after only two generations – was destroyed by a fire in the mid-first century CE. Under the building, collapse evidence for several ancient crafts was unearthed, including the manufacturing of terra sigillata pottery and blacksmithing.

A new issue of Sophia: International Journal of Philosophy and Traditions was also published this month.

Awards & Appointments:

Jacob Antoine has been awarded the South Asian Studies Association of Australia (SASAA) 2020 Hugh Owen prize for the best undergraduate essay in South Asian studies. The prize is awarded to the best undergraduate essay on South Asia in any field written as part of an undergraduate course of study each academic year, including Honours. Jacob was awarded the prize jointly with Janani Balasubramanian (University of New South Wales). Jacob won the prize for his essay ‘Mobile Culture: Foodways in the Diaspora’.

Andrea Cleland

Andrea Cleland (PhD in History, 2019) has been appointed Museum Curator at Churchill Island Heritage Farm.

Kate Davison (PhD in History, 2020) has been appointed an Associate Fellow on the Sexual Harms and Medical Encounters (SHaME) research project on the role of medicine and psychiatry in sexual violence. The project is led by Joanna Bourke (Birbeck, University of London).

Brandon Hao (BA, majoring in Psychology and Philosophy in 2020) has been awarded the 2020 BA Medal, presented annually to the graduate determined to be the highest achieving student across the three years of the course. Brandon was interviewed for the Faculty of Arts website.

Brandan Hao

Henry Reese (PhD in History, 2019) has been awarded the 2021 John Oxley Library Fellowship at the State Library of Queensland, for his project, Electrifying Queensland: Modern Machines in the Sunshine State – a cultural history of electronic and communications technologies in Queensland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Henry’s project will explore Queenslanders’ interactions with electronic and communications technologies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. ‘Old’ technologies that are taken for granted today often have surprising stories to tell when taken seriously in their own context. When technologies like the gramophone, telephone, cinema and radio were brand new, their meanings and uses were unstable. ‘How does this work?’ ‘What does this mean?’ They tended to provoke early users to think about how their worlds came together. Things that are now taken for granted move in and out of surprising contexts like science, magic, popular entertainment, commerce and government. Henry will follow some of these threads to explore the experience of modern life in Queensland over 100 years ago. He hopes to present his research as a short podcast series, telling some of the surprising and unusual stories he finds.

Jordy Silverstein (Honorary, History) has been appointed Senior Research Fellow at the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness, commencing July 2021.

Jasmine Stiff

We are delighted to welcome Jasmine Stiff as the new Administrative Assistant in SHAPS. Jasmine has come to us from Elevate Education where she was working as the Operations Manager. She is a University of Melbourne Arts alum, having majored in Linguistics and French, and has experience within office administration, finance and HR. We are very excited to have her on board and also recognise the amazing work that has been completed by Emily Forster, who has been covering the post since the departure of June McBeth.

Partnerships & Projects:

We are delighted to share news of an exciting new partnership between the Association of Ukrainians in Victoria and the University’s Faculty of Arts. More news on this coming soon.

Una McIlvenna (Hansen Senior Lecturer in History) is one of the founding members of a new international research network in the field of song studies. The network brings together researchers and performers working on song in a range of areas and time periods. You can follow along on @SongStudies21, or check out the website: There you can find details of how to become a member of the network.

Carla Pascoe Leahy (ARC DECRA Fellow, History) is a member of a new In/fertility: Reproductive Life Cycles Research Network. This network investigates the history and sociology of pregnancy, motherhood, infertility, reproductive technologies, abortion rights and menopause across two settler colonial nations, Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand. It aims to explore new approaches to histories, politics and intimate experiences of reproduction in order to advocate for scholarship that thinks across the reproductive lifecycles of people presumed female at birth.

Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński (Principal Fellow, History) is the General Editor of a new book series, ‘East Central Europe 476–1795′, published by Brepols. The establishment of the series is the result of work of Darius and Magdalena Biniaś-Szkopek (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań). The series aims to publish interdisciplinary scholarship on the history of East Central Europe as an integral part of Europe and examine its role as a significant contributor to global history.

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


Feature image (L to R): Brandan Hao, Jasmine Stiff, Henry Reese