SHAPS Digest (June 2022)

Julia Bowes (Hansen Lecturer in US History) wrote in The Washington Post about the overturning of Roe v Wade in the United States and the threats to rights of even those conservatives that supported it.

Julia also discussed the decision in the University of Melbourne’s Pursuit in ‘The Undoing of Roe v. Wade‘.

An essay by Nat Cutter (History) on the relations between British merchants and North Africans in the Maghreb before the rise of European empires was published in Aeon digital magazine.

Joy Damousi (History), Anh Nguyen Austen (PhD graduate in History, 2019, now ACU), Mary Tomsic (formerly History, now at ACU), Alessandro Toffoli (UniMelb, Engineering & IT), Filippo Nelli (Swinburne) published a blog post on Refugee History ‘Waves of Migration: A Vietnamese Refugee Boat Journey in Numerical Modelling and Oral History’.

June Factor’s (honorary, History) book Soldiers and Aliens: Men in the Australian Army’s Employment Companies during World War II was reviewed in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Julie Fedor (History) commented on ABC RN Drive on Russian attempts to generate heroic symbols around Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Catherine Kovesi (History) featured in an episode of the SBS program Who Do You Think You Are? (with Myf Warhurst).

Zoë Laidlaw (History) took part in a panel discussion, ‘Truth-Telling and Place: Contested Histories of the University of Melbourne’, to mark Reconciliation Week. This event is connected to the Indigenous Histories of the University of Melbourne project, to which other historians within SHAPS, including David Goodman, Julia Hurst and Simon Farley, are also contributing in the longer term.

Evan Tindal (Grimwade Conservation Services) was profiled in the ‘Meet a Conservator‘ feature on the AICCM (Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material) website.

Gijs Tol (Classics & Archaeology) gave a talk about his experience as an archaeologist in the territory of Nettuno and Astura, in the Sala of Sigilli at the Forte Sangallo, for the Antiquarium Comunale di Nettuno near Rome.

Tony Ward (Fellow, History) was interviewed by ABC Radio National’s Counterpoint on the reasons for the Russian military’s poor performance in Ukraine.

Academic Publications

Jackie Dickenson (Honorary, History), “‘Living Advertisements”: The Poster Ball in Australia’ in Australian Historical Studies.

In August 1900, a new type of charity event – the advertising poster ball – was introduced to Australia. The event brought together a range of pre-existing cultural forms to promote mass market brands, facilitated by a new, visual advertising culture. Over the next forty years, the poster ball was adopted by community groups, becoming a regular feature on the social and fundraising calendar. By harnessing people’s innate longing for creative expression and shared social activity to the promotion of commercial brands, the poster ball linked these brands to pleasurable social events, helping embed them in Australian cultural memory.

Karen Green (Professorial Fellow, Philosophy), ‘Sense, Reference, and Contemporary “Predicativism”‘, Semiotica.

Contributing to the debate between referentialist and predicativist accounts of the semantics of proper names, this paper partly endorses a recent trend to reject unitary accounts of their semantics. It does so by restoring a Fregean version of the variety of use account. It criticises alternative variety of use accounts for not clearly distinguishing pragmatic, syntactic, and semantic issues and argues that, once these are distinguished, the necessity of accepting that names have a variety of uses, and are sometimes logical singular terms and at others logical predicates shows that Frege’s claim, that we should recognise that names have both reference and sense, is vindicated.

John S. Wilkins (with Frank E. Zachos and Igor Ya. Pavlinov) (eds.), Species Problems and Beyond: Contemporary Issues in Philosophy and Practice

Species Problems and Beyond offers a collection of up-to-date essays discussing from an interdisciplinary perspective the many ramifications of the ‘Species Problem.’ The authors represent experts in the philosophy of biology, in species-level evolutionary investigations, and in biodiversity studies and conservation. Some of the topics addressed concern the context sensitivity of the term ‘species’; species as individuals, processes, natural kinds, or as ‘operative concepts’; species delimitation in the age of Big (genomic) Data; and taxonomic inflation and its consequences for conservation strategies. The carefully edited volume will be an invaluable resource for philosophers of biology and evolutionary biologists alike.

– Olivier Rieppel, Rowe Family Curator of Evolutionary Biology, Negaunee Integrative Research Center, Field Museum, USA

Species, or ‘the Species Problem’, is a topic in science, in the philosophy of science, and in general philosophy. In fact, it encompasses many aspects of the same problem, and these are dealt with in this volume. Species are often thought of as fundamental units of biological matter to be used in ecology, conservation, classification, and biodiversity. The chapters in this book present opposing views on the current philosophical and conceptual issues of the Species Problem in biology.

Divided into four sections, Concepts and Theories, Practice and Methods, Ranks and Trees and Names, and Metaphysics and Epistemologies, the book is authored by biologists, philosophers, and historians, many leaders in their fields. Topics include ontology of species, definitions of both species category and units, species rank, speciation issues, nomenclature, ecology, and species conservation.

Jimmy H. Yan (PhD in History, 2022), ‘Renegotiating Ireland, Transnational History, and Settler Colonialism in White Australia: Unsettling Greater Ireland?’, Radical History Review

Efforts to transcend island histories in Irish historiography have predominantly centred a narration of white settler pasts as an outer boundary of Irish history. This article works through the disjunctions between differently situated transnational turns in Irish and Australian historiographies by interrogating metaphors of extension, including “Greater Ireland” in the former historiography. It proposes that to decentre the nation as a historical unit, transnational Irish history requires a critical tension with white settler, and not only Irish, methodological nationalisms. The article surveys the critical possibilities presented by the transnational turn in Irish historiography while questioning its limits, with attention to the paradigm of a transnational Irish revolution. It then flags possible directions for a closer dialogue between transnational Irish history and postnational historiographies of white settler colonialism. An unsettling of discrete historiographical boundaries remains a necessary condition for tracing histories of Ireland beyond, below, and outside the nation.


Joy Damousi (History) was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Leila Alhagh (PhD in Cultural Materials Conversation, 2021) has been awarded a 2022 Faculty of Arts Diversity and Inclusion Small Grant for Cultural events in the Didar: Stories of Middle Eastern Manuscripts exhibition space.

Lucyna Artymiuk (PhD candidate, History) was awarded a Medal of Recognition by the Polish Community Council of Australia for outstanding services in documenting and commemorating the history and achievements of the Polish community in Australia.

Prasakti Ramadhana Fahadi (Dana) (PhD student, Gender Studies/SHAPS) and Ulya Jamson have been awarded a 2022 Faculty of Arts Diversity and Inclusion Small Grant for Queer-Muslim in Conversation.

Queer-Muslim in Conversation seeks to promote understanding and harmony between the LGBTIQ+ and Islamic communities, as well as to eliminate marginalisation and discrimination against them. The event is anticipated to take place in early September and will have three primary activities: Queer-Islam Book Talk, Hear Us!: i know my enemies prey on me, so pray for me Art Exhibition, and a webinar discussing the intersection of faith and gender & sexual diversity.

Madaline Harris-Schober, Laura Pisanu and Emily Simons have been awarded Norman Macgeorge travelling scholarships, which provide grants to support PhD students and enables them to conduct research trips overseas.

Maddi Harris-Schober said of her award:

To receive the Norman Macgeorge scholarship is a great honour. This scholarship will allow me to further my research in Eastern Mediterranean archaeology in Cyprus and Israel-Palestine by extending my stay at prestigious institutions and visiting important archaeological sites. This opportunity gives my PhD thesis an international advantage in a competitive field.

Laura Pisanu has also been awarded the Jesse Webb scholarship. This allows a postgraduate student to travel to Greece to undertake a course of study at the British School at Athens or another similar school in Greece. Laura told us a little about her research and plans for the awards:

My research project is focused on the Nuragic communities that lived at the northern Campidano and southern Montiferru regions in Sardinia (Italy) between the seventeenth and tenth century BCE. The study, which combines data from fieldwork activities and the GIS analyses, may better highlight the Nuragic control over resources, interaction with other fortified sites, and overseas connections. I am honoured and delighted to have been awarded with the Norman Macgeorge and the Jessie Webb Scholarships. The Macgeorge scholarship will allow me to spend a research period at the Italian Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric studies, while the Jessie Webb scholarship will give me the possibility to carry out my research at the British School of Athens and at the Knossos Research Centre in Heraklion (Greece). This will assist me to better compare data collected during the fieldwork activities, and better understand Nuragic network within a wider Mediterranean scenario. I am extremely grateful for been chosen as recipient of these awards because they will significantly contribute to the development of my PhD research project and, moreover to increase international academic and public knowledge of Nuragic civilisation.

Emily told us what the award means to her:

Receiving the Norman Macgeorge Scholarship will be incredibly helpful in completing my fieldwork in eastern Mediterranean archaeology. The scholarship provides a great opportunity to extend my research, access international collections, and be part of the wider research community.

Tom Keep (PhD candidate, Classics & Archaeology) is part of a team awarded Contemplative Studies Centre Seed Funding for the interdisciplinary project, Contemplating Time and Trust: Encounters with ancient standing stones and swarm robotics in performance artwork Sacrifice.

Vandemonians: The Repressed History of Colonial Victoria by Janet McCalman has been shortlisted for the Australian Historical Association’s Kay Daniels Award for outstanding original research with a bearing on Australian convict history and heritage.

Iain McIntyre (PhD in History, 2018) has won several awards for the volume co-edited with Andrew Nette, Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950-1985, including the 2021 Aurealis Awards Convenors’ Award for Excellence, and the Locus Science Fiction Foundation award 2022 for best non-fiction book. It has also been shortlisted for the Best Related Work for the Hugo Awards (World Science Fiction Society), winners to be announced later in the year.

Iain McIntyre with his 2021 Aurealis Convenors’ Award for Excellence, awarded together with Andrew Nette for Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950-1985

Monique Webber (Classics & Archaeology) has won the Faculty of Arts Dean’s award for The Most Significant Contribution to Building Partnerships for her work on the online History Teachers’ Development program.

The History Teachers’ Development Program is an online professional development program for secondary educators. Created in 2021 by Monique, the HTDP shares our Classics & Archaeology pedagogy and research with teachers. The HTDP attracted more than 150 attendees from across Australia in 2021; and, will be running again in August to September of 2022.


PhD completions

Sophie Lewincamp (PhD in Cultural Materials Conservation, 2022) ‘Tiered Contact Zones: A New Engagement Model for Cultural Materials Conservation’

Over recent decades, there has been increasing recognition of the need for conservators to engage and collaborate with the communities associated with the origin, ownership, and use of cultural objects. Such collaboration has developed more detailed knowledge and understanding than is possible through object investigation, research, and examination of constituent materials and manufacturing techniques. Two challenges arise, however: ensuring the engagement with community stakeholders is respectful and ethical, and planning and conducting stakeholder engagement in a way that is sensitive to issues of inclusion, authority, and power. Therefore, a key question in cultural material conservation is how those participating in conservation programs who have a common interest in conservation outcomes but come from vastly different backgrounds can best collaborate, share, and construct knowledge.

This thesis explores the application of contact zone theory and, addressing the identified shortcomings of that theory, proposes a tiered contact zone model as a more practical means to engage with communities. The model is based on principles of respect, ethical behaviour, and collaborative decision-making and the practices of object-based investigations, object biographies, and actor network and communicative action theories. The thesis investigates how shared spaces for dialogue and exchange are created and analyses the opportunities and challenges that arise from structured contact.

The proposed tiered contact zone model, developed from practice-led research, involves four stages of collaboration; firstly, an initial landing zone in which relationships are initiated and common goals identified; secondly, an early exploration zone that consists of the planning and articulation of roles and responsibilities, activities, and intended outcomes; thirdly, a collaboration zone in which confidence, trust, and partnerships are built; and, finally, a knowledge transfer zone in which mature collaboration and enhancement of knowledge are achieved.

The tiered contact zone model is applied to two case study collections: the Middle Eastern Manuscript (MEM) Collection at the University of Melbourne, and the Returned & Services League (RSL) LifeCare War Museum in Narrabeen, New South Wales. This thesis identifies the similarities and differences between the application of the model utilising a multiple method qualitative approach of questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups. Feedback recorded participants’ sense of belonging and achievement when their knowledge contributed to the shared goals. When concerns of unequal collaboration or lack of engagement were identified, participants drew upon the tiered structure with its development of shared roles and goals to instigate conversations to address their issues.

The case studies demonstrate that the tiered contact zone model is a powerful tool that can deliver significant mutual benefits to the conservator and cultural communities, enhance collection knowledge, and inform collaboration processes. The model is flexible and adaptable, allowing for progression and regression through the zones, changing participants, various levels of participation, and ongoing review of objectives and desired outcomes and processes, methodologies, and activities. The model has the potential to be applied to a wide variety of circumstances beyond the conservation of cultural material collections.

Supervisors: Professor Robyn Sloggett, Dr Nicole Tse

Read more about Sophie’s work in this 2020 post from SHAPS Forum.

Richard Young (PhD in History, 2022) ‘Tiered Contact Zones: War Comic Books, Civic Duty & American Popular Memory, 1952–1993′

The Cold War era (1945–1991) coincided with both the emergence and height of war comic books in the United States. Despite significant social, political, and comic industry shifts during this period, war comics remained a consistent presence in American culture. In this thesis, I examine the reasons for war comics’ continued success despite periods during the Cold War when comics were censored for their excessive violence and when military-themed culture declined. I also examine the ways in which these comics’ memorialisation of war contributed to contemporary debates about national identity and civic duty. From the late 1960s, comic creators and readers increasingly debated key issues about war, civic responsibility, and public protest. During this period, I argue that war comics promoted a populist anti-statist rhetoric that maintained the heroic ideal of the American soldier while at the same time reflecting public distrust of government institutions. In contrast to past studies of American war comics that predominantly portray these media as a form of unofficial government propaganda, I contend that war comics offered a space to contest the traditional American war story and ideas about civic duty. In doing so, war comics opened opportunities for seemingly polarised groups in American society, including Vietnam veterans and draft resisters, to form and share new narratives about war that transcended the conservative-liberal political divide of the post-Vietnam War period.

Supervisors: Professor David Goodman, Professor Antonia Finnane

Research Higher Degree Milestones

PhD completion seminars

Nicole Davis (History), ‘A Fashionable Promenade? The Nineteenth-Century Shopping Arcade in Australia’

During the second half of the nineteenth century, Australians embraced the urban form of the shopping arcade. Unique spaces of commerce and leisure, with shops, services, offices, and entertainment zones under one roof that utilised new technologies in their construction, the arcades were considered emblematic of urban modernity. They were significant social sites that housed a variety of businesses, inhabited by people from all walks of life and underwent diverse historical trajectories. This thesis examines the social history of the arcades within the Australian context during the nineteenth century and their continuing significance into the present day.

Neville Yeomans (History), ‘A History of Australia’s Immigrant Doctors, 1838–2021: Colonial Beginnings, Contemporary Challenges’

This thesis explores the history of Australia’s overseas-trained medical practitioners. It asks who they were, from where they came, why they migrated in relation to geopolitical and other events, and what were their experiences. One tool was a prosopography comprising all IMGs registered in Australia 1838 to 1984. Recent history was investigated through the voices of contemporary immigrants. For more than a century, the sources of the immigrants were constrained by restrictive medical Acts and protectionist attitudes. Now there is largely an open door, but the thesis identifies processes and attitudes that still constrain the lives of some immigrant doctors.



Feature image: Photo from the SHAPS Undergraduate Hellenic Ball, held on 1 June 2022 at the Hellenic Museum, Melbourne