Elizabeth Muldoon

Elizabeth Muldoon (PhD in History, 2024) Learning History with the Founding Foremothers of the Redfern Black Movement

This thesis offers a history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the Redfern Black Movement from 1968 to 1973. Recognising the central place of women within the Movement, it crafts a platform for their voices to be properly heard within historical scholarship for the first time. The PhD candidate, Elizabeth (Beth) Muldoon worked with eight founding foremothers of the Movement as co-researchers to develop a historical analysis of its origins, philosophy and praxis based on their oral histories. The anti-colonial methodology of the collective research underpinning this thesis enabled joint control of every component, from its guiding questions to its budget. This methodology responds to the longstanding demand of Aboriginal activists and scholars, including Black Movement activists in the 1970s, for Aboriginal communities to be in control of research about them.

The historical analysis of this thesis is informed by the theorisation of Aboriginal sovereignty as lived, embodied and inalienable by Aileen Moreton-Robinson, Crystal McKinnon and other Aboriginal scholars who articulate an Aboriginal ontology that co-researchers share. When viewed through this theoretical lens, the Redfern Black Movement can be understood as an assertion of Aboriginal sovereignty that displayed significant continuities with prior assertions. The oral histories of co-researchers reveal that such assertions did not only take the form of organised and spontaneous confrontations with colonial power, but also the daily acts of care, protection, education and cultivation of kinship that have always sustained Aboriginal communities. Attentive to the diverse ways through which Aboriginal sovereignty is asserted, this thesis traces the origins of the Movement through co-researchers’ personal and community histories in rural New South Wales, Townsville, Cairns and Darwin. It then demonstrates that their connection to a long legacy of Aboriginal community defence and nurturing on Gadigal Country (where Redfern is located) was vital to the emergence of the Movement.

Additionally, this thesis maps the philosophy and praxis of the Movement, showing how four key strategies – 'direct action', 'sharing and caring', 'unity', and 'solidarity' – grew from the ancestral knowledge of co-researchers and other the Movement activists in response to new circumstances, relationships and ideas. The oral histories of co-researchers reveal that each of these strategies contributed to the strength of the Movement yet carried significant challenges, which opponents of the Movement have, over the past fifty years, exploited to undermine the Movement’s pursuit of 'self-determination', understood by co-researchers as entailing 'land rights' and 'community control'. The political objectives of Movement women and the strategies that they developed to attain them were grounded in their theorisation of their unique position of subjugation within settler-colonial society as Black women, yet the indivisibility of their struggle for liberation with that of Black men. By contextualising women’s participation in the Movement within a long tradition of Aboriginal women’s political leadership and Women’s Business in south-eastern Australia, this thesis demonstrates that we cannot understand the Movement without grasping the perspectives of Movement women.

Supervisors: Professor Gary Foley, Professor Sara Wills, Professor Barry Judd

Celebrating Student Successes in History & Ancient World Studies

As the year draws to a close, we look back on the achievements of our students, awarded prizes in 2021 for their outstanding work in History and Ancient World studies.

Winner of the 2021 Gyles Turner Prize, Maya Del Rio Reddan

The Gyles Turner Prize is awarded annually for an undergraduate essay in Australian history.

Maya's prize-winning essay, written for the subject City Visions: Melbourne Intensive (HIST20087), investigated the 1950s camp scene that flourished at Val’s Coffee Lounge on 123 Swanston St, Melbourne CBD. At 22-years-old, Val Eastwood opened one of the only publicly accessible spaces in Melbourne for same-sex desiring people.

At a time of the Menzies government’s hostility towards queerness and heavy ideological investment in middle-class heteronormativity, Val’s Coffee Lounge became a crucial space for same-sex desiring people to connect with one another and safely express themselves. Not only did this give many same-sex desiring people of the period a critical lifeline, but it also nurtured Melbourne’s emerging queer cultures that can now flourish today.

Maya writes,

I feel immensely honoured to have received the Gyles Turner Award for an essay exploring the hidden queer histories of Melbourne’s CBD. I’ve lived in Melbourne most of my life and used to frequent what used to be Val’s Coffee Lounge when it was a cheap buffet restaurant called Crossways. I had no idea of the significance of that space to queer history and the impact it has had on Melbourne’s contemporary queer cultures.

History is made to matter through what gets recorded, kept and remembered. Given this, I’d like to give my deep gratitude and a special acknowledgement to the Australian Queer Archives, without which, this history would be lost.


Winner of the 2021 Brian Fitzpatrick Prize for Best Honours Thesis in Australian History, Paul Fearon

The title of Paul’s thesis was The Outer Circle Railway: Boroondara’s Aspiration for a Much-derided Nineteenth-century Railway. The ten-mile cross-radial Outer Circle Railway from the early 1870s has been described by most historians as strange, notorious and a ‘white elephant’.

The thesis corrects this largely negative characterisation, arguing that local communities consistently supported and promoted the railway. An almost two-decade delay in its realisation was ultimately fatal to its viability with the onset of the catastrophic 1890s depression.

Winning the Brian Fitzpatrick prize is a great honour, particularly as his contribution to the historiography of Australia's economic history is relevant to my current PhD research on state enterprise and statutory authorities. I am very fortunate to have the ongoing support and guidance of my GDipArts(Adv) supervisors, Professors Sean Scalmer and David Goodman. My prize will be donated to the University’s food bank and assisting the Royal Historical Society of Victoria conserve William Barak's painting Ceremony.


Winner of the 2021 Wyselaskie Scholarship for History, Thea Gardiner

The Wyselaskie Scholarship for History is awarded annually to the highest achieving first-year PhD student in History.

Thea Gardiner researches and writes on the place of women in Australian historical memory. Her PhD research presents the first biographical study of the Australian artist and activist Portia Geach (1873–1959). The study brings together the fields of art history, family history and gender history, crossing methodological boundaries and shedding new light on a significant yet relatively unknown Australian figure.

Thea writes,

I am deeply honoured to receive the Wyselaskie scholarship for History. Receiving this scholarship not only alleviates a significant financial burden but also serves as a powerful recognition of my dedication and passion for writing and thinking about the past. The recognition and support provided by the Wyselaskie scholarship reaffirm my commitment to this discipline. It bolsters my confidence in my abilities and motivates me to strive for excellence in my studies and future career. I am determined to make the most of this incredible opportunity and contribute meaningfully to the advancement of historical knowledge.

I would like to express my gratitude to the generous donors who have made this scholarship possible. Your philanthropic spirit and commitment to education are truly commendable.


Co-winner of the 2021 Lloyd Robson Memorial Award, Catherine Gay

This award supports graduate research students of Australian history who are undertaking research interstate.

Cat writes,

The Lloyd Robson Memorial Prize funded vital research for my PhD thesis. The prize allowed me to visit interstate collections in Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and Hobart to gather essential and rare primary sources.

As a historian of children and childhood, my source base is rich and diverse but often sparse and scattered and I have needed access to multiple collections to gather material.

The opportunity to look beyond Victorian institutions for sources and meet with a wide array of curators and collection managers has immeasurably enriched my thesis and PhD experience.


Winner of a 2021 Norman Macgeorge Scholarship, Madaline Harris-Schober

Maddi 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.



Winner of the 2021 Dr Rodney Lloyd Benjamin OAM History prize, James Hogg

The Dr Rodney Lloyd Benjamin OAM History Prize is an annual award for an essay, written by graduate research and coursework students in the Faculty of Arts, focusing on Australian history.

James Hogg is researching the emergence and evolution of Australian anti-fascism from the 1920s into the postwar period. Focusing on the Communist Party of Australia (CPA), his PhD research sits at the intersection of political, intellectual, and transnational history.

It is an absolute honour to receive the Dr Rodney Lloyd Benjamin OAM History Prize. This scholarship represents not only invaluable financial support but a vote of confidence in my pursuit of knowledge of the past.

I’d like to express my deepest gratitude to both the University and the generosity of the donors who’ve made this profound opportunity possible, and for reaffirming my dedication and passion to the study of Australia’s past and its vital consequences in the present.


Winner of the 2021 Margaret Kiddle Prize, Rebi Houlihan

The Margaret Kiddle Prize is awarded annually for the highest ranked honours thesis in History.

Rebi writes,

My thesis investigated the impact of the Internet and gender on the Emo subculture in the 2000s. I explored many of the different ways Emo was viewed by people within and outside the subculture – particularly the negative reactions of outsiders, and the side-lining of women within the subculture. This thesis served as a launching point for my current research which explores the wider context of the Internet in Australia.

This prize has provided me with the confidence to move forward into a new chapter of my research.


Winner of the 2021 Rosemary Merlo Prize for Second Year History, Emerson Hurley

This prize is awarded annually for the best essay submitted as part of the prescribed work for a second-year history subject.

Emerson writes,

I am pleased to be the recipient of this award. Dr Millar's class on the history of the European witch-hunts [Witch-Hunting in European Societies (HIST20080)], for which I wrote this paper, provided a brilliant introduction to many of the key skills for writing early modern history – especially that of entering into the mentalities of past societies, even when they are foreign to our own.

I wrote my paper on the decline of institutional witch-hunting and informal witch beliefs. This topic sits at the intersection of fields – the history of law, the history of popular belief, the history of emotion – in which I intend to continue working through grad school and beyond.


Winner of the 2021 Felix Raab Prize, Ines Jahudka

The Felix Raab Prize is awarded to the highest achieving student for an essay on early modern European history.

Ines writes,

I am so excited and proud to have been selected as the recipient of the Felix Raab prize for my undergrad history essay. It is very gratifying to have even be considered, and I wish to pass on my thanks to Professor Catherine Kovesi and Associate Professor Jenny Spinks, who nominated me for the award.

I had a great deal of fun writing the essay in question, and I’m so pleased that others enjoyed reading it!

My essay combined two of my favourite things: history and music. I examined how European tuning systems were exported around the world as part of the imperial process, eventually either overriding existing tunings, or creating a binary between what sounded ‘normal’ and what was ‘exotic’.

Musical instruments contributed to this process: the piano, of course, in music halls and drawing rooms, but also the humble (and very loud) accordion, which insinuated itself into much of the folk and indigenous music of almost every continent.

The technologies of the mid-nineteenth century (the development of recorded music, the gramophone, and radio) then cemented these European tonal structures and essentially recalibrated the global soundscape.

Yet, from the late twentieth century, these ‘exotic’ tonal structures have been incorporated into European musical forms and sold back to the world under the banners of either ‘world music’ or ‘global chill’.

Exoticism in musical tone is now a genre (and a highly profitable one), rather than a feature which defines the Other. It’s a really fascinating process and one which I hope to explore further at some stage.


Winner of the 2021 Dwight Prize for History, Arthur Knight

The Dwight Prize for History is awarded for the highest ranked honours student in History.

Arthur’s honours thesis examined visual artistic representations of national identity in the Philippines during the martial law period under Ferdinand E. Marcos (1972–1986). Arthur explored state-sponsored art and architectural projects, socialist revolutionary art critical of Marcos, as well as more ambivalent works at the Cultural Centre of the Philippines which challenged conventional binary depictions of art during the dictatorship.

Arthur is now continuing this research as a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne. His new research investigates Philippine memory of and nostalgia for martial law in visual art.

Arthur writes,

Receiving the Dwight Prize in History is a tremendous honour. Its purpose to further the pursuit of new historical knowledge is one I'm greatly appreciative of and share as an urgent and necessary goal. This award will contribute towards my professional development as a historian, and I am especially grateful for the recognition and support of my work this prize represents.


Winner of the 2021 Marion Boothby Exhibition, Mariana Leite


Winner of the 2021 Donald Mackay British History Prize, Hector Macgillivray


Winner of the 2021 Mary O'Donoghue Prize, Max McKendry

The Mary O'Donoghue Prize is awarded annually for the best undergraduate essay in Irish Studies.

Max writes,

I was so surprised to receive the Mary O’Donoghue Prize but am extremely grateful! I will always treasure my time at Melbourne University, and I truly felt as if I put my heart and soul into my studies during the lockdowns of 2021. To have been recognised for my work during this time means a great deal.

I really enjoyed focusing on my Irish heritage in the History capstone project. Investigating and presenting the migration of my great-grandparents from Northern Ireland to Australia in the 1930s was so eye-opening, especially for understanding the factors and greater historical context that led to my family residing in Australia today.


Winner of the 2021 Dennis-Wettenhall Prize and the 2021 SHAPS Fellows Group History Essay Prize, Jessie Matheson

The Dennis-Wettenhall Prize is awarded annually for a MA or PhD thesis on Australian history.

Jessie was awarded the prize for her PhD thesis titled ‘Countryminded Conforming Femininity: A Cultural History of Rural Womanhood in Australia, 1920–1997′.

Jessie was awarded the SHAPS Fellows' Group History Essay prize for her essay '"Laugh and Grow Fat": Resistance, complicity, fat bodies, and community amongst rural women in interwar Western Australia, 1934–1939', which was published in Lilith: A Feminist History Journal in October 2020.

I wish to sincerely thank the SHAPS Fellows' Group for acknowledging my work with this award. This research was incredibly meaningful to me, and it is really gratifying to see it honoured in this way. As a final year doctoral candidate, having my research read and enjoyed is a real gift. Further, to share stories of the lives and experiences of West Australian rural women, many of whom in their own lives were overlooked and marginalised, is such a privilege. Working within such a strong and supportive community of researchers has been a daily pleasure of my work with SHAPS, and the Fellows do such important work in fostering this environment. Thank you again, I look forward to presenting my essay to the SHAPS Fellows' & Associates Group. – Jessie Matheson.

Jessie's prize-winning essay is available online.


Winner of the 2021 Chris Manousopoulos Prize in Ancient History, Adam Moore

As the inaugural recipient of the Chris Manousopoulos Prize in Ancient History, I extend my deepest thanks to the generous donors, Gary and Margaret Israel, and the friends and alumni of the Faculty of Arts. The success which I enjoyed in my 2021 subjects represented the culmination of an Ancient World Studies major, made possible only by the superb academic staff at the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies.

With my Honours year now completed, I proceed to an MPhil at the University of Cambridge, where my research in the field of papyrology and manuscript studies shall be bolstered by the understanding of ancient history which I acquired at the University of Melbourne.


Winner of the 2021 Donald Mackay History Prize, William Mott

This prize is awarded annually to the student with the highest mark in any History subject (other than British History) in the second year of a Bachelor of Arts. William won the prize for his performance in the subject American History: 1945 to Now (HIST20071) (since re-named Protest and Politics: US History, 1945-now.

I was pleasantly surprised and humbled to have been nominated for the 2021 Donald MacKay History Prize. Studying history at the University of Melbourne has given me the opportunities and scope to really indulge my interest in the subject, and has allowed me to understand why it is valuable and important to our culture to know about our past.

To have my enthusiasm for history recognised with this award has put a spring in my step and renewed energy in my pen to furrow a way forward through my degree and beyond.


Co-winner of the 2021 Lloyd Robson Memorial Award, Beth Muldoon

This award supported Beth's research partnership with eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who were centrally involved in the 1970s Redfern Black Movement, which founded the first Aboriginal community-controlled services and 1972 Aboriginal Tent Embassy.


Winner of the 2021 Rosemary Merlo Prize for 1st Year, Arkie Nelson

This prize is awarded annually for the best essay in a first-year History subject.

In my history studies, I focus predominantly on social and political movements in the twentieth century and how the intersections of race, gender and class, and other marginalised identities, affect how people have experienced historical events.

After completing my undergraduate and honours degree, I hope to undertake postgraduate studies, potentially in the curation and critique of museums and galleries. I hope that through my undergraduate and postgraduate studies and my future work, I can help to bring marginalised voices in history to the fore and help us to understand how the past interacts with what we are experiencing in the present.


Winner of the inaugural Panagacos Family Prize in Ancient Languages in 2021, Leo Palmer

I am grateful and honoured to have been awarded the inaugural Panagacos Family Prize in Ancient Languages in 2021. The second year of the pandemic and lockdowns was challenging for all of us, and for myself personally a year of loss, change, and uncertainty. Any classicist will tell you that the study of ancient texts offers a comforting place of refuge and solace, and I regard this activity as an immense privilege.My third year at the University of Melbourne was especially formative and benefitted from the guidance of many incredible teachers. Since then, I have gone on to complete the Classics Honours program, and I am currently working on a Masters thesis which investigates the origins and inner workings of Athenian democracy in the fifth century. I would love to pursue further graduate research in the future, which this generous prize will undoubtedly help to make possible.


Winner of the 2021 Alma Hansen Scholarship, 2021 Norman Macgeorge Travelling Scholarship, and the 2021 Jessie Webb Scholarship, Laura Pisanu (PhD candidate, Classics & Archaeology)

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 these scholarship.

The Alma Hansen scholarship provides a unique occasion to extend my research, analyse fieldwork data and to visit Bronze Age sites in Italy. In this way I can access overseas collections and share my research with international scholars.

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.

Winner of the 2021 Gilbert Postdoctoral Career Development Award, Susan Reidy

Susan Reidy (PhD in History, 2021) was delightfully surprised to receive this award. She is appreciative of the award every time she uses her new, large computer, on which she is developing her thesis, 'Glorious Gardens and Exuberant Grounds, the History of Urban Public Parks in Australia', into a book. Susan’s PhD is a national study of the social, cultural and landscape history of Australia’s public parks, botanic gardens and sports grounds from colonial settlement to the recent pandemic.

Like parks themselves, Susan’s topic encompasses many aspects of Australian history, from garden and landscape design, to botanical science, the environment, planning and modern urbanism, social customs, recreation and sport, commemoration, heritage, and urban nature. She hopes this big, rich and complex story about public parks, which are essential places in our cities and towns, will interest a wide audience beyond and within the academy.


Winner of a 2021 Norman Macgeorge Travelling Scholarship, Emily Simons

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.


Winner of the 2021 Laurie R Gardiner Prize and the 2021 Bowen Prize, Keith Hung Tran

The Laurie R Gardiner Prize is awarded annually for the highest ranked essay on early modern British History (1400–1700) by an undergraduate student.

The Bowen Prize is awarded to the student who submits the best essay on a subject in the field of British History or British literature. This prize alternates each year between the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies and the School of Culture and Communication.

Keith Hung Tran writes,

Reliable sources tell me that Professor Gardiner was a giant of the History department, and I'm honoured to receive an award named in his memory.

My essay explores the fascinating life of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the wife of the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. In her private letters, written between 1716–1718, Lady Montagu attempts to debunk Western myths about the East, but I suspect she made some of them worse.

The essay fuses art history, postcolonial theory, feminist literary theory – sexy, cumbersome ideas that I had a lot of fun with during the lockdown.

I am currently enrolled in the Master of Teaching (Secondary) program at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, specialising in English and History teaching. Outside that, I work at a Jewish school in Melbourne, where I get to play some role in encouraging historical consciousness and historical empathy among young learners.

Our Mental Health Has Gone Digital

Apps, wearables and ingestibles that support digital mental health have lowered barriers to access but have profound social, ethical, and legal implications. In this extract from her new book, The Artefacts of Digital Mental Health, and republished here from Pursuit, Dr Jacinthe Flore (HPS) new digital mental health technologies and their impact. 

In April 2022, The Guardian published an article on the "rise of mental health chatbots" in the United States.

Placing the increased usage of chatbot apps such as Woebot in the context of enduring problems in the mental health system that were worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, the article explains that young people are seeking artificial intelligence chatbots to support their mental health challenges.

Part of the reason for this is the perceived absence of judgment and the objectivity afforded by the robot. The article cites a user who comments, “It’s a robot … It’s objective. It can’t judge me.”

An empathic computer that receives and recognises feelings without judgement and a computer that feels – such is the broad ambition of digital mental health products.

Apps, Wearables and Ingestibles 

In my new book, The Artefacts of Digital Mental Health, I look at three types of products that purport to support positive mental health: pocket-size infrastructures powered by artificial intelligence and other advanced algorithms (apps); body-focused devices that ‘read’ one’s vital signs (wearables); and sensors that are swallowed (ingestibles) as well as the convergence of the app, wearable, and sensor.

Apps like Wysa and Woebot apply artificial intelligence in their design to power and automate robots that can chat with users. Known as chatbots, these apps form part of a shift in app design where the therapeutic relation is enfolded and encoded into artificial intelligence-powered algorithms.

Smart wearables that are networked to smartphones, embedded sensors and advanced data processing functions, like automated decision-making and artificial intelligence, became a genre-defining technology at the intersection of the health and fitness industry with the unveiling of the first Fitbit in 2009.

Wearables have also operationalised the language of ‘wellbeing’, and companies have been able to position their devices as having a range of benefits, including improving mental health.

The number of connected wearables worldwide has soared from 325 million in 2016 to 722 million in 2019 and reached 1.1 billion in 2022.

Ingestible sensors are much less common but are growing in popularity. Abilify MyCite is a psychotropic medication (aripiprazole) embedded with a sensor and in 2017 became the first drug with a digital ingestion tracking system approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The Abilify MyCite system includes a sensor that is ingested with the drug, a patch worn on the ribcage to which data is transmitted, a smartphone app that records data such as digestion, moods, and activity levels, and an online portal shared with the prescribing physician.

Digital Mental Health and the 'Shadow Pandemic'

The deployment of such technologies in mental health predates the COVID-19 pandemic, but the events of 2020 and 2021 have been a springboard for fast-paced, technology-driven changes in mental health.

At times labelled the ‘shadow pandemic’, the mental health impacts of the pandemic were a frequent topic of discussion in the media and in scholarly research, which, more broadly, also highlighted the need for reform in the mental health system.

It became stark to me that during the pandemic, elements of techno-solutionist imaginaries – that is, ideas that technology will offer relatively straightforward solutions to complex social, economic, and political issues – emerged to address loneliness, isolation and mental ill health.

Digital mental health is not limited to clinical practice. It is increasingly mundane, circulating in everyday life beyond the confines of the clinic, through technologies that are tethered to the self.

It's All in the Data

A key dimension holding together these digital artefacts is a focus on reading, tracking and interpreting the body’s vital signs as a way to translate mental health.

Where past discussions of mental health may have focused exclusively on the mind or the brain, or the body but not the digital, these technologies wholly rely on the body, its vital signs, its inflections and its movements, while claiming to access (and act upon) the brain and the mind through the materiality of the body.

Mental health data are typically viewed as uniquely sensitive in medicine and law. Consequently, corporations that design and manufacture apps, wearables and ingestible sensors are particularly enthusiastic to stress the (positive) clinical research into their products on their websites and sometimes on social media.

Data Doesn't Judge?

In many digital mental health products, body data hold apparent impartiality that words, narratives and stories of emotional distress cannot or do not offer with sufficient precision.

Intensely embodied sensations and responses such as shivering, sweating, increased heart rate, deep or shallow breathing and sleep (and embodied actions during sleep including snoring or tossing and turning), once rendered into data, are – often in combination – supposedly closer-to-accurate indications of mental health and ill health.

Central to how the benefits of wearables for mental health are framed is the purported ability of physiological data to resolve the ‘problem’ of subjectivity in self-reports of mental ill health.

In other words, where spoken narratives of struggle and distress are viewed as time-consuming and coloured by subjectivity, physiological data is near-incontrovertible, if not neutral.

Blurring the Boundary between Physical and Mental Health

Despite the sensitivity associated with mental health data, digital mental health continues to expand, often beyond the purview of regulatory systems. The datafication of mental health is not only far-reaching but also, its expansion is amplifying the blurring of boundaries between ‘physical’ and ‘mental’ health.

While, on the one hand, the blurring of physical and mental health can signal a more holistic and complex understanding of mental health beyond ‘symptoms’, it also signals data capaciousness; that is, the collecting, processing, and analysing of multiple body data are presented as essential and unavoidable.

This is an edited extract of The Artefacts of Digital Mental Health by Dr Jacinthe Flore, published by Palgrave Macmillan.



Feature image: Kev Costello via Unsplash.

Introducing Dr Pete Millwood, Lecturer in East Asian History

We are delighted to welcome Dr Pete Millwood, who recently joined SHAPS as our newly appointed Lecturer in East Asian History. Dr Millwood is a historian of the Chinese world’s international and transnational relations, especially with the United States. He obtained his doctorate in History at St Antony’s College, Oxford, in 2018, and has held fellowships at Tsinghua and Oxford Universities, the London School of Economics, and the University of Hong Kong.

Pete Millwood’s first book, Improbable Diplomats: How Ping-Pong Players, Musicians, and Scientists Remade US-China Relations, published by Cambridge University Press in 2022, explores the thawing of this crucial Cold War relationship in the early 1970s from a transnational perspective. The book emphasises how travel and cross-cultural exchange between Chinese and American citizens – for example, scientists and ping-pong teams – played a crucial role in the rapprochement between the two nations. Particularly unique to his work is how Pete Millwood explores these dynamics ‘from below’, analysing the relationship between China and the world at the level of civil society.

Pete Millwood sat down with History PhD candidate and SHAPS Graduate Research Teaching Fellow James Hogg to discuss Chinese-world relations, both past and present; what he’s excited for this year at SHAPS; and the complexities of historical research.

Could you tell us what drove you to the study of history and particularly the study of China’s relationship to the world?

I came to studying history the same way that so many of us do: by reading. I found reading history books to be endlessly rewarding, constantly revealing new facets of the origins of the world around us. I also liked how history was in a way multidisciplinary, including every aspect of society — only, in the past.

My interest in China began as an undergraduate. In the second year of my undergraduate degree at the London School of Economics I was fortunate to be taught by one of the pioneers of Chinese international history, Arne Westad. Arne was a wonderful seminar teacher. His deep learning and his continuing fascination with the subject really came through in our class discussions. He also offered to supervise my final-year undergraduate dissertation — but he added the condition that I should only begin researching Chinese history if I was prepared to start learning Chinese straight away, which I did. I really enjoyed writing that dissertation, which looked at the impact of Mao’s death on China’s relations with the United States (and which, many years later, become some of the basis for my first journal article).

I then went to China for the first time the following summer and began intensive study of Chinese. That was also at a time when China was very open to the world and when the country was prioritising its international and global connections. I wasn’t explicitly thinking about that larger context as I planned my research projects, but probably there was some connection between wanting to understand the China of a decade or so ago and my choice to research the history of the country’s relations with the outside.

How are you hoping to further your research at the University of Melbourne? What research projects are you currently working on, and what would you like to undertake in the future?

I’m currently working on a short project, a journal article, that examines how Maoists in English-speaking countries – the US, UK, Australia – reacted when China stopped being Maoist. How did leftists who had been inspired by Mao’s China react when Deng Xiaoping and his colleagues jettisoned much of Mao’s most radical policies so soon after his death in 1976?

My tentative answer is that some very quickly broke with China, even calling for the death of Deng, who they denounced as a counter revolutionary (a charge that Deng was pretty used to hearing by that point). But others did not, instead staying loyal to China and continuing to explain China’s political changes of the late 1970s and 1980s as a continuation of the policies that had first drawn them to the PRC as an example of revolutionary praxis. I think that this provides an interesting case study for thinking about transnational political loyalty: what’s more important, loyalty to ideas or to a party or state? And what role do transnational adherents to a political ideology get to play in its continuation or termination?

Another, larger project looks at a different part of the Sinophone world – Taiwan – but continues my thematic interest in transnational connections. For this second project I’m trying to think about Taiwan’s democratic transition in transnational context: how many of the key actors – both Taiwanese and non-Taiwanese – often exercised their influence on political reform from beyond Taiwan, and how the Kuomintang regime, too, attempted to counter demands for political reform not just through authoritarianism at home but also through what today we call transnational repression.

Many Taiwanese and non-Taiwanese scholars have deeply researched Taiwan’s democratisation, especially in the domestic space; what I am hoping to be able to do is connect those existing histories with new scholarship on global political change in the 1970s through 1990s by using a global source body to trace Taiwan’s democratisation movement. I just got back from Taiwan, where I found a real wealth of sources on this topic that I’m excited to be working with.

Your book deals with a crucial moment in US-China relations, that is, the period leading to ‘normalisation’ between the two countries in 1979. What lessons from that period do you think are most pertinent today?

Sadly, I think that today Sino-American relations are more like they were in the early 1970s than they have been for a very long time. My book’s narrative begins in a period of mutual isolation between China and the United States: for two decades after the founding of Communist China in 1949, only a very small number of citizens from each side had travelled to the other country, numbering in the hundreds or fewer – miniscule numbers by today’s standards. We’re not there yet, but the years of strict Covid border controls were the closest either side has come to that level of isolation since that period; as recently as a few months ago, the US Ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, said that by the State Department’s count there were only 350 American students studying in China, down from more than 11,000 before the pandemic. So, the first lesson of the 1970s is a positive one: that we can reverse the trend we’ve seen since 2020 and resume the active societal connections with China that existed before Covid.

The breakthroughs in Sino-American relations took a lot of work by people on both sides, so it won’t necessarily be easy to re-build societal contacts – but it is possible. Indeed, in the past, say, six months I think we’ve started to see this happen: many in China, in the US, and in Australia, too, have argued that, even if we are in a new era of competition, there is still value in maintaining ties between China and the Western world. A lot divides democratic societies and China, but that was true in the 1970s, too, when Mao’s regime was highly authoritarian. Nonetheless, I think contacts then, as they are now, are a net benefit to both sides.

The other lesson from the 1970s, though, is perhaps less encouraging: my book shows that more transnational contacts between China and the United States did not automatically generate more accurate understanding, or even necessarily goodwill. Most Chinese and Americans that visited the other country or met visitors from the other country were glad to have done so, but direct experience of the other country sometimes also increased confidence in mis-readings of the other society, or led to political squabbles. I really believe that there is value in China reconnecting with the outside world after Covid and in us re-establishing many of the links that frayed during those years. But doing so won’t automatically arrest some of the mutual suspicion and hostility that has grown in the past years, or by itself guarantee that we can avoid conflict.

One thing I think is particularly interesting about your work is how it recaptures a sense of agency and contingency in the historical process, by emphasising how smaller, civil actors shaped monumental diplomatic outcomes. Could you touch on some ways that actors on the ground, or in civil society more broadly, influenced the relationship between what are now the world’s two greatest superpowers?

Thanks, I’m glad to hear you say that as that’s really at the heart of my approach.

One of the episodes in my book that is probably familiar to many is the first leg of ping-pong diplomacy, when the US table tennis team travelled to China in April 1971 in a major breakthrough in relations, before Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, or any other official had visited China. But what I found when I began my research on US-China relations in the 1970s more broadly was that this was by no means the final time that civil society actors had a significant impact on the relationship. It wasn’t even the last time that ping-pong players did: there was also a second ping-pong visit in the other direction a year later, the first official delegation from the People’s Republic of China to the US since the former’s founding in 1949.

But there were also dozens of other important visits. The Philadelphia Orchestra visited China in 1973, in a visit that many of the orchestra, including its director Eugene Ormandy, called the most important and exciting visit of their whole lives. That visit helped revive interest in classical Western music in China in the twilight of the Cultural Revolution and was also the basis for American musicians becoming interested in Chinese musical traditions.

Scientists were another important set of visitors, whether left-leaning American scientists interested in Chinese revolutionary science such as new applications for acupuncture – which became a bit of a craze in 1970s America – or Chinese scientists who had earlier studied in the US and embraced the chance to rebuild intellectual links with scientists they knew in that country.

Together, these many different types of visits had a cumulative effect of rebuilding deep, diverse connections between the two societies, and also helped encourage the further development of the diplomatic relationship between the two governments. For example, the book tries to show how Chinese interest in access to US science was a key motivation for the final agreement for mutual diplomatic recognition that was reached in 1978 – not coincidentally, just as China started sending large numbers of scholars and students for long-term stays in the United States.

For these initial travellers, expectations and pre-conceptions of their destinations were of course moulded by the regimes of their respective countries – so that in a recent talk I think you mentioned the Chinese government was trepidatious about sending their ping-pong team to a previously hostile and certainly anti-communist country. To what extent did the experience of travel challenge these preconceptions, both for the actors themselves and the diplomats they represented?

The experience of travel certainly did a lot to change preconceived ideas of the other country. Right up until the first American delegations were sent to China in 1971 and vice versa in 1972 each government had demonised the other and this earlier message still lingered for early visitors. So, as you say, China’s table tennis team was very concerned about the reaction they’d get when they went to the US in April 1972, and whether they’d be safe. And they did face protests: anti-communists and supporters of the rival, Republic of China government on Taiwan organised hundreds of people to protest these representatives of Mao’s China, and to encourage them to defect.

But what I think struck the Chinese visitors more was how many more Americans – tens of thousands – warmly welcomed them, asking them about Communist China, in a respectful and open way. Likewise, many of the first American visitors to China were bowled over by the friendliness of their hosts, the curiosity of ordinary Chinese towards foreign visitors, and the safety they enjoyed wherever they went in China.

Both sets of visitors were also surprised at how successful and dynamic they found the other society. Chinese visitors had been told of a predatory, ineffective capitalist American society, where the majority suffered so a few could get rich. Internal Chinese documents include candid reflections that you couldn’t build cities like New York or have such high levels of car ownership if only a small minority were rich, even if they also noted homeless beggars and crime.

Americans, too, often concluded that Communist China was a far more effective society than they had been led to believe before the 1970s. Many even offered adulatory praise for Mao’s China that went far beyond the reality. This was in part because their visits were closely controlled by their hosts. But it was also, I think, because experiencing the reality of China jarred with two decades of propaganda in which they’d been told that Chinese Communism was on the brink of collapse.

Great! And would you like to run us through the subjects you were hoping to teach next year, and perhaps what you’d like to bring to them?

Next year I’ll continue to teach China in Global History since 1945 (HIST20086) and Cold War Cultures in Asia (HIST30066).

I’ve just finished my first semester of teaching China in Global History and I really enjoyed discussing the content with my students. The subject examines many of the best-known events of China’s post-war history and does so in a way that emphasises the connections between domestic history and relations with the outside world. So, we look at, say, the Cultural Revolution, but focus more on how that political movement influenced China’s foreign relations in the 1960s and 1970s, and how Mao’s ideas were an inspiration to many people around the world, from Cambodian Communists to Black Panthers in California.

I’m excited to teach Cold War Cultures in Asia in semester 1. The subject will take a broad definition of 'culture'. In some weeks, we’ll examine cultural production, from books through films to dance. But the subject will also consider cultures of protest, of consumption, and military cultures. In all cases, the subject will take a comparative perspective, trying to unpick the similarities and differences in how the global Cold War was experienced in diverse societies across Asia. I’m already enjoying preparing the subject!

More information about Pete Millwood's research and teaching can be found here

James Hogg is a PhD candidate and commencing Graduate Research Teaching Fellow. His research focuses on Australian anti-fascism in the 20th Century, with an emphasis on the role of migrants and the Communist Party of Australia. In 2024, he will be a member of the teaching teams for The French Revolution (HIST20068) and Dictators and Democrats: The Modern World (HIST10015).



Feature image: Pete Millwood, 2023. Photographer: Nicole Davis.

SHAPS Digest (November 2023)

Oleg Beyda (Hansen Lecturer in Russian History) was interviewed (in Russian) (with his co-author Igor Petrov) for Radio Free Europe about his work reconstructing the biography of Nikolai Tarasov, a Soviet Lieutenant Colonel who was captured in 1942 and is still considered MIA. The research demonstrates that Tarasov became a German collaborator and successfully moved to France after 1945.

Incoming Mary Lugton Postdoctoral Fellow Nat Cutter (History) explored the weird and wonderful world of early modern marginalia in a post for the Medieval and Early Modern Orients blog, seeking to uncover how people in early modern England engaged with books about North Africa. From detailed notes about Algerian ethnic groups and annual Nile flooding to doodled grubs and chickens, this investigation reveals many promising hints about intellectual culture and transcultural relations in the premodern world.

Mark Edele (Hansen Chair in History, and Deputy Dean, Faculty of Arts) discussed the Putin regime's future on 60 Minutes

Cordelia Fine (HPS) featured in the Australian'Research Magazine list of 'living legends' – Australian researchers and scholars who influence public discourse world-wide.

A new digital resource was launched this month as part of Jacinthe Flore's (HPS) Linkage Project, Borderline Personality as Social Phenomena: An Interdisciplinary Study, The interactive resource is based on fieldwork with people with lived and living experiences of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Ash Green's book Birds in Roman Life and Myth was reviewed in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review. The reviewer found that "Green’s richly researched and interdisciplinary Birds in Roman Life and Myth has a lot to offer—not just about the past, but also about our current situation, giving us much to ponder about how we need to behave in the future."

The HPS Podcast published new episodes with Adrian Currie (University of Exeter) on opportunistic scientific methods; Sarah Qidwai on science and colonialism; Ian Hesketh (UQ) on the writing of science history; Gerhard Wiesenfeldt on the unknown scientist; and Carl Bergstrom (University of Washington) on science and disinformation. Since its launch earlier this year the HPS Podcast has gone from strength to strength, reaching ever-growing international audiences. The HPS Podcast was conceived by Fiona Fidler and is produced and hosted by HPS PhD candidate Samara Greenwood and Honours student Indigo Keel.

Marilyn Lake (Honorary Professorial Fellow, History) reviewed Graeme Davison's book My Grandfather's Clock: Four Centuries of a British-Australian Family, for the Australian Book Review (behind paywall).

Kate Lynch (HPS) produced ABC RN's 'The Philosophy of Biology', questioning what philosophy can bring to biology, a scientific discipline notionally given to the pursuit of hard facts and empirical evidence.

Andy May (History) launched the website for his Shillong Digital Archives Directory (Sdad) project. The Sdad initiative is an ongoing collaboration scholars and practitioners in Meghalaya and elsewhere to share research data and build a repository of archives, stories and images exploring the history and heritage of the Khasi Hills.

Kate McGregor (History) discussed her new book, Systemic Silencing: Activism, Memory and Sexual Violence in Indonesia, on the Talking Indonesia podcast.


Kate McGregor also published an article, 'Icons of the "Comfort Women" Movement: Considering the Plight of Indonesian Survivor Activists', on the Australian Women's History Network blog. The article explores how Indonesian women engaged in activism after coming forward with their experiences of sexual violence during World War Two.

Peter McPhee (Professorial Fellow) commented on the controversies around historical inaccuracies in Ridley Scott's Napoleon, for the Conversation.

Andonis Piperoglou published an article in the Greek newspaper BHMagazino on 'Empowering Greek Diaspora Studies via Global Academic Partnerships'; the article is available (in Greek) via Yiorgos Anagnostou's blog Immigrations–Ethnicities–Racial Situations: Writings about Difference and Contact Zones.

Incoming inaugural Mykola Zerov Fellow in Ukrainian Studies, historian Iryna Skubii, was featured on the Faculty of Arts website. Dr Skubii will arrive in Melbourne in May 2024.

Academic Publications

Michael Arnold (HPS), with Fraser Allison, Bjørn Nansen, Martin Gibbs, Samuel Holleran and Tamara Kohn, 'Reimagining Memorial Spaces through Digital Technology: A Typology of CemTech', Death Studies

Digital technologies are creating new ways for visitors to engage with cemeteries. This article presents research into the development of digital cemetery technologies, or cemtech, to understand how they are reimagining memorial spaces. Through a systematic review of examples of cemtech in online records, academic literature, patents, and trade publications, we developed a typology of cemtech according to four characteristics: application type, technical components, target users, and development status. Analysis of the application types resulted in five higher-level themes of functionality or operation-Wayfinding, Narrativizing, Presencing, Emplacing, and Repurposing-which we discuss. This typology and thematic analysis help to identify and understand the development of cemetery technology design trajectories and how they reimagine possibilities for cemetery use and experience.

Purushottama Bilimoria (Principal Fellow, Philosophy), 'Gandhi and the Posthumanist Agenda: An Early Expression of Global IR', E-International Relations

The recent debates on Global IR emphasise the vital roles that non-Western knowledge-forms can play in strategic mainstreaming of the relational ethics of 'post-humanism'. That is, the theoretical-practical approach that propositions an inclusive account of the importance of not just the human actors but also the non-human actors in global political life, such as nature, earth’s processes, plant and animal systems, technospheres, forms of viruses, and so on (Cudworth, Hobden & Kavalski 2018, Brasovan 2017, Kavalski 2020, Shih 2020). Since Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1957), or the Mahatma (great soul) as he is popularly known, vehemently made an appeal to acknowledge an 'identification with all that lives', his viewpoints come across as an untapped repository that could be evoked to supplement the post-humanist agenda of Global IR. In fact, Gandhi’s way of foregrounding the post-humanist agenda borrows from a range of conceptualisations – such as ahiṃsā (non-injury or non-violence), satyāgraha (truth-force), tapasya (spiritual heat), sarvodaya (welfare for all) and swadeshi (self-sufficiency) – that arise from the Indian textual traditions of the Vedas and Bhagavad Gītā. This article aims to explain how these conceptualisations based on the Indic knowledge-forms can initiate a dialogic interaction between the seemingly divergent approaches of ‘Western modernity’ and ‘non-Western traditionalism’, thereby imaginatively informing the Global IR discourse.

Purushottama Bilimoria, Philip Hughes, Jayant B Bapat, Alison Booth, and Rajendra Prasad, 'Hinduism in Hindu Diaspora in Oceania (Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific', in Knut A. Jacobsen (ed.), Hindu Diasporas (Oxford University Press). This volume is the first book to bring together overviews and historical and ethnographic empirical studies of the religious traditions and practices of the most important Hindu diasporas on all the world's continents. It documents the important role that migration has played in the geographical expansion of Hinduism and shows the great plurality of Hindu traditions and the centrality of international networks and global flows.

Nat Cutter (History), with Rachel Fensham and Tyne Daile Sumner, 'The Slipperiness of Name: Biography and Gender in Australian Cultural Databases', Gender and History

In this article, we examine and historicise problems related to name and gender in biographical and cultural databases. Combining theoretical and computational approaches to onomastics, we identify contradictory naming conventions, intriguing patterns and distinct institutional vestiges in the recording and representation of artistic careers. We evaluate the affordances and constraints of naming conventions in Australian cultural databases, considering evolving trends in data collection and use, in relation to the complex lives of individual artists. We argue that this local‐level analysis extends to wider transnational debates in historiography, gender studies and digital humanities research today and propose some conceptual and technical solutions for building and using cultural databases in the future.

Andonis Piperoglou (History), 'Destination Darlinghurst', in Anna Clark, Tamson Pietsch, and Gabrielle Kemmis (eds), My Darlinghurst (NewSouth)

Darlinghurst, a triangle of 80 hectares, sits on the edge of Sydney’s CBD. Dominated by high rocky ridges on which grand colonial houses were once built, it is bordered in the east by Rushcutters Creek (Boundary Street), which was used by Aboriginal peoples until at least the 1860s, and in the south by a Gadigal pathway (Oxford Street), which traced a route out to the ocean. The colony’s first mills were built beside valley streams, which were soon covered over by densely packed rows of terrace houses – homes to workers, artisans and labourers.

Shaped by this landscape, and transforming it, a mixture of posh and poor, criminal and respectable, itinerant and established, sick and well have made their lives in Darlinghurst. My Darlinghurst profiles this colourful neighbourhood, revealing the stories of its migrant and Indigenous residents, the razor gangs and brothels, the soldiers and wharfies, and the artists and LGBTQIA+ communities who have made — and continue to make — Darlinghurst their home.

Andonis Piperoglou's chapter charts how migrants moved through the suburb, contributing to the making of its cosmopolitan character.


Many congratulations to staff members promoted during the latest round:

  • Catherine Kovesi (History) – promoted to full Professor
  • Hyun Jin Kim (Classics and Archaeology) – promoted to full Professor
  • Julie Fedor (History) – promoted to Associate Professor
  • Nicole Tse (Cultural Materials Conservation) – promoted to Associate Professor

Appointments & Awards

We are delighted to announce the following appointments to continuing positions in the School:

  • Paul Carter (Assistant Lecturer, HPS)
  • Becky Clifton (Assistant Lecturer, Classics & Archaeology)
  • Nat Cutter (Assistant Lecturer, History)
  • Paula Dredge (Assistant Lecturer, Cultural Materials Conservation)
  • Jacob Heywood (Assistant Lecturer, Classics & Archaeology)
  • Kerstin Knight (Assistant Lecturer, HPS)
  • Charlotte Millar (Lecturer, History)
  • Fallon Mody (Assistant Lecturer, HPS)
  • Kai Tanter (Assistant Lecturer, Philosophy)
  • Larissa Tittl (Assistant Lecturer, Classics & Archaeology)
  • Sarah Walsh (Lecturer, History)
  • Natasha Wilson (Assistant Lecturer, History)

Oleg Beyda (Hansen Lecturer in Russian History) has been awarded a Scholar Research Support Grant from the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University. Oleg will visit Stanford in 2024 to conduct research for his project on the biography of Colonel Boris Pash.

Matthew Champion (History) is a member of the newly funded Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Netzwerk – Die Mobilität religiöser Dinge/Mobile Matters of Religion which has been awarded funding to run from 2024–2026. The project draws together scholars and curators from Amsterdam, Berlin, Bern, Erfurt, Frankfurt, Jena, Kent and Melbourne to investigate the mobility of devotional and sacred objects in the early modern world. It is led by Anne Mariss at the University of Regensburg.

Matthew Champion has been re-elected to the board of the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS).

Nicole Davis (History, Forum) has been announced as a Griffith University Harry Gentle Resource Centre Visiting Fellow for 2024. Nicole’s project will explore the experiences and networks of nineteenth-century Queensland businesswomen in a specific site of commerce and leisure – the arcade. It examines establishments owned or run by women and commodities or services provided in four arcades built during this period – in Brisbane, Charters Towers and Townsville. Sometimes disguised behind male relatives acting as faces of the businesses or historiography overlooking their participation, these women played a vital role in the Australian colonial economy and represented significant networks in global exchanges of goods, ideas, and people.

Kate McGregor (History) has been appointed a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.

2023 AICCM (Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials) Awards

AICCM MedalRobyn Sloggett 

This award, previously known as the AICCM Hall of Fame, recognises career-long contributors to Conservation and acknowledges skills sharing across levels of seniority ensuring that skills are not lost from the profession. The AICCM citation notes that the medal is to 'acknowledge Robyn’s international work as an expert in cultural materials conservation. Her sustained commitment to teaching, research and community-engaged research has contributed hugely to the conservation profession. Robyn pioneered the development of cultural materials conservation programs at the University of Melbourne, as a discipline through the Grimwade Centre’s academic programs, and as a commercial hub through Grimwade Conservation Services. Her work in community conservation programs includes partnerships with Indigenous communities and with remote, rural and regional organisations across Australia. Robyn’s inter-disciplinary and cross-cultural work has been transformative for the Australian conservation sector.'

ADFAS/ArtsNational Student Conservator of the YearJo Lupgens

Jo will complete their Masters by Coursework in Cultural Materials Conservation this year and is a committed advocate for queer and women’s heritage in fine art, and the issues involved in securing and strengthening queer identity through the conservation of queer cultural heritage. They are currently the Secretary of Student Conservators at Melbourne (SC@M) and were instrumental in the SC@M proposal for the recent changes to the AICCM Codes of Ethics and Practice to ensure they are more trans-friendly and trans-inclusive. Jo has been a key part of SC@M workshops and events, and took part in the student team working on the restoration of Virginia Cuppaidge’s Cytheria.

AICCM Outstanding Conservation Project of the Year – 2022 Australian Flood Recovery Project (Grimwade Conservation Services)

Libby Melzer, Katy Glen, Noni Zachri, Penny Tripp, Peter Mitchelson, Cushla Hill, Vanessa Kowalski, Ellie Urrutia Bernard, Christine Mizzi, Beatrice Dahllof, Bridget Fejes, Hannah Lamond-Hallett, Hayley Nolle, Hilary Kwan, Jess Argall, Emma Dacey, Julia Sylvester

This award recognises conservation projects that aren’t strictly treatments that nonetheless demonstrate a level of complexity, skill, innovation, collaboration and benefit to cultural heritage.

The 2022 Australian Flood Recovery Project, led by the University of Melbourne’s Grimwade Conservation Services, was a direct response to a number of calls for assistance during the 2022 Australian flood emergency. A high-profile project was developed to test future recovery responses during extreme emergency events, and featured online and face-to-face activities to support regional, remote, and isolated communities in the recovery of personal items and small collections impacted by floodwater. The project created a variety of new resources and included community engagement opportunities for conservators to provide specialist services and train affected individuals. There was a strong communications plan which ensured the project reached a broad audience and raised the profile of the conservation profession. The team collaborated with stakeholders and allied professionals such as local councils, the media and affected communities. The resources developed will continue to be used by these groups.

Research Higher Degree Completions

Pascale Bastien (PhD in Philosophy, 2023), 'Economic Growth, Liberalism, and the Good: A Contemporary Eudaimonistic Evaluation'

The majority of states worldwide pursue economic growth as a policy objective, and this tends to be justified in liberal and welfarist terms. However, the legitimacy of this pursuit is rarely debated and appears to be largely taken for granted. This thesis thus seeks to evaluate the legitimacy of the pursuit of economic growth as a policy objective in affluent countries, with a particular focus on well-being.

Part 1 establishes the grounds for a normative evaluation of the pursuit of economic growth in affluent countries. Chapter 1 focuses on methodology. It argues that the economy is a proper target for a normative evaluation, and that the methodologies of social critique and political economy are appropriate to this evaluation. Chapter 2 explores the historical roots and the ideological features of the commitment to economic growth. This understanding of the commitment to economic growth in ideological terms contributes an explanation for the fact that it is rarely questioned. Chapter 3 investigates the relationship between economic growth and consumerism, and shows that individuals in consumerist societies are structurally constrained to engage in the consumerist lifestyle of working and spending, which challenges the association between economic growth and freedom, and raises questions regarding welfare.

Part 2 elaborates and defends a contemporary theory of welfare eudaimonism which will form the basis for an evaluation of the pursuit of economic growth. Chapter 4 draws on a psychological theory called self-determination theory, and sketches a theory of welfare eudaimonism called self-determination eudaimonism. Central to this theory is the idea that human beings flourish when they engage in activities which fulfil their basic psychological needs. Chapter 5 defends the plausibility of a deflationary teleological explanation of prudential well-being in terms of self-fulfilment. Chapter 6 elaborates on self-determination eudaimonism and shows how it can be understood in terms of normative motivation. Chapter 7 discusses the development of normative motivation and its relationship with practical rationality.

Finally, Part 3 evaluates the pursuit of economic growth as a policy objective in affluent countries in light of the framework developed in Part 2. Chapter 8 argues that the consumerist lifestyle entailed by the pursuit of economic growth undermines well-being, such that the pursuit of economic growth is illegitimate as a welfarist policy. In addition, since individuals in consumerist societies are structurally constrained to engage in this lifestyle, the underlying structure can be deemed unjust. Lastly, the pursuit of economic growth as a policy objective seriously limits the freedom to live as one sees fit and amounts to the imposition of a particular conception of the good, which is inconsistent with liberal principles. Part 3 ends with a brief discussion of what the good life may look like in the post-growth society.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Daniel Halliday, Andrew Alexandra

Martin Carnovale (PhD in Classics & Archaeology, 2023), 'The Language of Archaeological Investigations'

The thesis explores whether methods based upon analogical reasoning can be used to interpret culture if there are difficulties of translating other culture’s beliefs. The kind of cultural interpretation that I will discuss is that which pertains to social, artistic and religious activities. The thesis also explores the differences between quantitative and qualitative forms of reasoning, as well as inductive an deductive approaches, and how these are used in certain forms of archaeological interpretation. It is shown that scientific analyses of culture can make errors of translation, and it is also shown that humanistic and qualitative analyses of culture make many errors of reasoning that may be usually put forth against scientistic analyses of culture. How much biology and culture influence statistical trends is also discussed, and it is argued that trends may give support to certain forms of analogical reasoning that an archaeologist might use for the interpretation of culture.

I also critique the idea of biological universals as being meaningful for cultural analysis. It is also argued that cognitive and biological factors exist below the level of cultural and religious activities; hence, a biological basis for statistical trends might not give much content to certain forms of comparative cross-cultural analysis. Thus, one might defend a qualitative approach to interpretation, but I argue that qualitative approaches make errors that can be paradoxically regarded as scientistic. The relevance of philosophical and linguistic theories by Kant, Kripke and Carnap is defended for archaeological research to explore interpretative errors in both quantitative and qualitative reasoning. The thesis argues against the dualism between the qualitative and quantitative, and attempts to argue for a pluralist methodology where positivism and relativism may be unified.

Supervisor: Dr Brent Davis

Belinda Gourley (MA in Cultural Materials Conservation, 2023), 'The Paper Negatives of Reverend George Wilson Bridges: A Preliminary Investigation into their History, Materials and Techniques'

The Reverend George Wilson Bridges (1788–1863) was an English clergyman, writer and early photographer who lived in and travelled extensively through Jamaica, Canada, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. He played a significant part within a group of nineteenth-century British photographers, learning the paper negative and salted paper print processes from their inventor, William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–1877) and other associates during the mid-1840s. Bridges created his photographs during his travels around the Mediterranean and the Middle East between 1846 and 1852, and published some of these upon his return to England. His production of images was reasonably prolific, however, for numerous reasons his photographic work appeared to not gain much attention during his lifetime and these days are considered relatively obscure and an adjunct to the work of his mentors.

This research explores the life and work of this fascinating character through the lens of fourteen paper negatives attributed to Bridges that are held in the collections of Museums Victoria (MV). The focus is to begin understanding and identifying of the scope of photographic works created by this relatively unexamined photographer, and then more specifically, the photographic materials and techniques he used to create his paper negatives. The results of this research are intended to inform future methods of care for the works in the MV Collection, and more broadly, to advance the collective understanding of Bridges’s overall photographic oeuvre and begin filling a significant gap in scholarly knowledge of this area.

This investigation begins with a review of the historic literature written about Bridges’s life and photographic career, comparing secondary accounts against the historic primary sources they are derived from, and exploring what photographic works are generally believed to have been created by him. In particular, numerous letters written by Bridges in which he explains his working methods, materials, and various issues he had with resulting images are interrogated. This discussion draws upon the significant number of secondary and primary resources that describe Talbot’s methods of producing paper negatives and salted paper prints, in which Bridges’s practice was based.

The second part of the thesis documents and collates results gained from visually examining a range of paper negatives attributed to Bridges. It begins by reviewing how other conservation professionals have conducted similar studies of nineteenth-century paper negatives and salted paper prints in the past and details the visual examination and documentation methods that were developed and utilised in this study. Two sets of results are then presented and discussed. The first set of results is derived from the visual examination of 44 paper negatives attributed to Bridges in three other collecting institutions, and the second is from visual examination of 14 such works in the MV collection. Following this, a final third section details the overall results obtained from all four collections. Results are discussed in the light of the earlier review of historic literature about Bridges and observable trends are drawn out to create a sketch of the characteristic elements of his paper negatives. Discussion of the results from the MV collection in particular, focusses on where those works fit into the broader context of his oeuvre, and how the results of these investigations may influence the future care of this collection. The study finishes by listing numerous recommendations for further study on the topic.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Petronella Nel and Associate Professor Alison Inglis (SCC)

Ajay Raina (PhD in Philosophy), 'A Critique of Differentiated Citizenship'

This thesis is a critique of ‘liberal’ theories of culturally differentiated citizenship, with primary focus on Will Kymlicka’s philosophy. The main proposition of differentiated citizenship is that, for reasons of (distributive) justice, liberal states ought to give special rights to cultural minorities in addition to the universal, culture-blind, rights that all citizens have. The special cultural rights are essential for the members of ethnonational minority cultures to be able to exercise autonomy, for those communities to viably flourish, and for polyethnic, immigrant minorities to smoothly integrate into the liberal-democratic social contract. The classic liberal system of culture-blind universal rights and citizenship denies them these possibilities because the basic institutional structure of such a liberal society is, in reality, culturally majoritarian and minority exclusive; it cannot address substantive interests and needs of cultural minorities.

In this thesis, these claims of autonomy, wellbeing and integration are each posited as hypothesis and empirically tested—for the first time against large-N, longitudinal data – in the real liberal world where such special rights have been granted. The evidence suggests that none of these claims can be undisputedly upheld. Deeper analysis points to faulty assumptions in the theories being the likely cause of the empirical failures. For example, while the argument for the autonomy rests on the assumption that ‘societal culture’ is the source of all the meaningful ‘options’ of the good life, it overlooks the role that ‘preferences,’ the agent’s dispositions to options, play in the actual making of choice and the culture’s role, if any, in the shaping of those dispositions. Similarly, the wellbeing of the Native ethnocultural minorities is assumed to automatically follow from the ‘external protections’ – from ‘outbid’ (on resources) and ‘outvote’ (on policies) disadvantages which the classically liberal economic and political institutions supposedly cause them – that the special cultural right to self-government provide them, with little thought given to the structure and diversity of institutions which, economic theory tells us, are factors more critical to the achievement of robust wellbeing than bare ownership of resources and policy. Similarly, the assumption that multicultural rights, simplicter, enable shared civic identity of ‘mutual concern, accommodation, or sacrifice’ is problematic because it conflates independent dimensions of political life. Rights establish/adjudicate the moral status of members in a moral community, while ‘mutual concern, accommodation, or sacrifice’ represent actions subject to moral responsibility adjudication by, or within, the moral community; neither dimension, straightforwardly, entails the other.

On the positive side, this thesis proposes and defends a principle, the baseline principle (BP), of effective distributive justice: a liberal state ought to ensure equal probability of securing the acceptable baseline of wellbeing for all citizens. The baseline principle can be (prescriptively) fleshed out as the equal capabilities principle (ECC): all citizens should have equal sum of basic capabilities needed to satisfy the BP in a market economy. (The ECC should also, hopefully, reduce the autonomy deficit in the culture group). The ECC does require some state paternalism, but, arguably, only of a degree that would be acceptable to all rational and reasonable persons. And, shared civic identity in the multicultural context, this thesis argues, has better chance of emerging, inductively, from ‘identity of political experience’ rather than deductively from dissimilarity of political rights.

Supervisors: Associate Professor François Schroeter, Associate Professor Dan Halliday

Behzad Zerehdaran (PhD in History), 'Genesis and Development of the Concept of Rights in Iran before the Constitutional Revolution (1815–1906)'

In this dissertation, I have studied the history of subjective rights in Iran during the Qajar era. I have shown that the concept of subjective right (right as to have a right) emerged during this period as opposed to objective right (right as to be right). The genesis and development of subjective rights can be observed in the political and legal literature of Iran since the reign of Fath Ali Shah. I have presented a meta-theory for analyzing the concept of rights by providing a concise history of its semantic development and explaining the transition from objective to subjective rights. I have also examined theories on the foundations and justifications of rights and used the Hohfeldian framework to analyze various conceptions of rights in travel literature, enlightenment literature, and dream literature of the Qajar era.

To explore the manifestations of the concept of rights in travel literature, I have examined the travelogues of Abu al-Hasan Khan Ilchi, Mirza Salih Shirazi, Rizza Quli Mirza, Mirza Fattah Garmarudi, Haj Sayyah Mahallati, and Mirza Muhammad Husayn Farahani. These travelogues were written by Iranian statesmen, students, and tourists who visited the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire, and Europe during the early and mid-Qajar era. I have used the meta-theoretical framework of rights to analyze the representations of the concept of rights in their travel accounts.

To study the contributions of the Qajar intellectuals in the development of the concept of rights, I have consulted the complete oeuvre of Mirza Malkum Khan, Mirza Yusuf Khan Mustashar al-Duwlih, Mirza Fath Ali Akhundzadih, Mirza Aqa Khan Kirmani, Abbas Afandi, Abdulrahim Talibuf, and Ziyn al-Abidin Maraghih-i.

Lastly, I have considered the question of rights in dream narratives of the Qajar era by examining The Book from Invisible (1860), One Word (1874), Sleep and Awakening (1884), The Travel Diary of Ebrahim Beg Vol. 1 (1897), The Paths of Virtuous (1905), The Celestial Consultative Assembly (1906), and The Travel Diary of Ebrahim Beg Vol. 3 (1909).

Supervisors: Associate Professor Richard Pennell, Associate Professor Dan Halliday

PhD Confirmation Seminars

Christian Bagger (PhD Candidate, Classics & Archaeology), 'From Cornelia to Livia: Senatorial Women, their Influence, Power and Auctoritas ca. 133–27 BCE'

My research endeavours to examine the elite Roman women, known as matronae, and their power, influence and auctoritas from, roughly, the 160s BCE to 27 BCE. The topic positions itself as a conjunction of social and political history. The study concerns itself with elite women and the family, and the impact women had on the political climate of the late Republic. The scope is more than a century, spanning from the much neglected ‘early’ late Republic and the fame of Cornelia, and ending in the culmination of the civil wars of the triumvirate with the ascension of Caesar Augustus and Livia Drusilla. The investigation centres on diachronic case studies of well attested women, examining their (perceived or real) power, influence and/or auctoritas within the public and domestic spheres of Roman society. I argue that social convention allowed women a high degree of influence and positioned elite matronae as central and vital members of the socio-political milieu in late Republican Rome. This position, I argue, became increasingly visible to observers of the late Republic with the emergence of continued internecine strife, political rivalry and outright civil war, and through the roles women publicly played in these crises.

Fenella Palanca (PhD Candidate, Classics & Archaeology), 'Modelling Textile Consumption and Production in Republican Italy'

Although there must have been tremendous demand for textiles in the Roman period, scholarship on the Republican textile industry has been surprisingly limited, due to an apparent paucity of literary and archaeological evidence. But can we really omit such a major industry when discussing the burgeoning economy of the sprawling Roman Republic? This thesis aims to model textile production and consumption in the Republic, drawing from quantitative, archaeological, and literary sources. It argues that the textile economy involved more intensive, varied modes of production than historians have assumed, relying on the – often invisible – labour of women and slaves to function.


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



Feature image: L to R: Professor Kate McGregor, Dr Ken Setiawan and Professor Zoë Laidlaw launch Kate McGregor's new book, Systemic Silencing: Activism, Memory and Sexual Violence in Indonesia, 2023. Photographer: Prasakti Ramadhana (Dana) Fahadi.

Ridley Scott: Historians Need to ‘Get a Life’

Napoleon director Ridley Scott is calling on us historians to "get a life" – and he has a point. Art is about more than historical facts. SHAPS Emeritus Professor Peter McPhee discusses the movie and the director's stance in this article, republished from The Conversation.

The release of Napoleon unleashed a torrent of objections to historical errors in the movie.

Social media platforms were inundated with outrage – particularly from military historians – objecting from everything from details on uniforms to military formations.

These heated responses highlighted a more fundamental question: how should historians respond to creative works about history? Do historians have a public responsibility to apply their specialist knowledge to contest spurious claims about the past? Or should they simply respect creative licence, and let moviegoers have their fun?

Historical accuracy matters. But more important for historians should be whether creative works pass the test of authenticity: whether a creative work “rings true” to the historical context as a whole.

Historical Inaccuracies

Whatever the cinematic opulence of Ridley Scott’s battle scenes and of the coronation of Napoleon and Josephine in 1804, historians have railed against a plethora of shortcomings and silences.

Careful makeup could not disguise 49-year-old Joaquin Phoenix as the 24-year-old lieutenant who first came to notice at the battle of Toulon in 1793. The portly, middle-aged Robespierre (Sam Troughton) bears no resemblance to the young revolutionary in appearance or style. Napoleon was not at the execution of Marie-Antoinette, nor did he order his troops to open fire on the Pyramids when in Egypt.

There are many more serious objections one could make – notably of silences about Napoleon’s failure to suppress guerilla resistance in Spain and his disastrous attempt to reimpose slavery in French colonies in the Caribbean after its abolition in 1794.

But historical inaccuracies are nothing new. Similar, if less strident, objections may be made about all historical recreations on film or in theatre.

In the celebrated Australian movie The Dish (2000), Rob Sitch and his team located the first reception of news of the Apollo 11 moon landing and Neil Armstrong’s famous words about his “one small step” at the iconic Parkes Observatory, rather than, as in reality, at the NASA stations at Honeysuckle Creek near Canberra and in California. Cinematic attraction trumped accuracy.

The 1982 film Breaker Morant is still receiving criticism for its lionising of Morant. The pivotal Battle of Stirling Bridge scene in Braveheart didn’t include a bridge in the film. Hospitals weren’t a target during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Far more controversial was the scintillating musical Hamilton (2015) created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, based on the prize-winning 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.

Miranda explicitly recognised the musical was his interpretation of the founding of the United States from today’s perspective, deliberately cast non-white actors as the Founding Fathers and drew on musical styles ranging from R&B to soul and hip hop.

Despite his candour, historians rushed to point out errors, exaggerations and elisions. Hamilton’s contributions to the battlefield during the American War of Independence are exaggerated for effect. The Schuyler sisters articulate feminist ideas far from those they would have had at the time. While Miranda makes much of Hamilton’s opposition to slavery, Hamilton was personally involved in purchasing slaves and his wife came from a wealthy slave-owning family.

But artists create works within different genres to that of professional history. They are not creating documentaries that can be evaluated according to the historical conventions of the careful use of available evidence, and respect for ambiguity and uncertainty. These need to be considered, first and foremost, as creative works.

A Place for Historians

As Scott snapped, the fact-checkers should “get a life!” and join the crowds enjoying his interpretation.

Instead of nitpicking the historical details of entertainment, perhaps historians should celebrate the fact that a long historical drama has been an immediate box office success, including in France – home to some of the film’s most vocal critics.

People who attend Napoleon, or any historically based work of art, are more likely to be curious to know more rather than be gullible about its historical accuracy.

Of course, historians should not fall silent on failings of historical accuracy, but the central issue for historians should be authenticity. That is, a creative work should be evaluated by historians not so much on whether specific details are accurate but on whether the producer’s imagination captures the essence of the historical moment.

'Poetic licence' permits selectivity and exaggeration in the interests of evoking a deeper meaning. (Of course, that cannot excuse deliberate distortion unless, as in Miranda’s case, it is openly acknowledged.)

The real weakness of Napoleon is Scott’s failure to ground the Emperor’s motivations in the principles underpinning his 1804 legal code – which he saw as his greatest legacy. Scott’s focus on Napoleon’s brutality and megalomania means the explanation for his behaviour boils down to a mixture of murderous territorial greed and a pathetic need to impress Josephine, instead of a more complex impulse to also impose revolutionary reforms.

In their public comments, historians might focus more on the level of contextual veracity in creative works and leave their long lists of errors of detail to professional journals. The problem with the Napoleon movie is not so much its errors of detail as its lack of authenticity about what we know of the man and his world view.The Conversation



Feature image: Napoleon and Josephine by Harold Hume Piffard (1867–1938) (detail). Private collection

Conversations with Australian Philosophers

Daniel Nellor’s book, What Are They Thinking? Conversations with Australian Philosophers (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2023), features interviews with ten philosophers working in Australian universities today, including SHAPS philosophers Margaret Cameron, Chris Cordner and Dan Halliday. They discuss the nature of philosophy and why it's valuable, and think through some of the big questions on their minds. Logic, morality and the nature of time; technology, the mind, the environment and the economy: this book is a glimpse into the world of some of Australia’s leading thinkers as they wrestle with the most important questions we can ask. What Are They Thinking? is for anyone who would like to know more about philosophy from the people who practice it.

Dan Halliday sat down with Daniel Nellor to discuss the book and how it was produced.

You’ve written a book of interviews with philosophers. This sort of thing doesn’t get produced very often. Prominent philosophers sometimes get interviewed in popular media. But it’s rare to see them interviewed as a group, in the way you’ve done here. How did you come to embark on this project, and what were you seeking to uncover with it?

My first reason for putting together this book was a selfish one – I wanted an excuse to keep having interesting philosophical conversations after finishing my PhD! But more seriously, it occurred to me that there was a huge resource out there that I could tap into: academic philosophers across Australia doing really interesting work. This work doesn’t always reach the general public partly because, like other experts, philosophers often need to communicate in technical language and work on specific questions that make sense to others in the field but not always to everyone else.

Having studied philosophy, and also having done a lot of writing for general audiences, I thought I might be in a position to be a sort of bridge: grappling with each philosopher’s work and then having a conversation with them, designed to be ‘eavesdropped’ on by the general reader.

I wanted to show how the questions dealt with by philosophers, which can sometimes seem a bit niche, are fascinating and relevant to our lives and our world. Philosophers are doing what we all do as humans – thinking about the world and our place in it – but philosophers try to push this thinking as far as it will go. This book is an opportunity for readers to see what this looks like in practice. It was a great privilege for me not only to be able to read a whole lot of interesting work, but to then have the opportunity to interrogate the people who wrote it.

Tell us a bit about the approach you used in formulating these interviews: Are the interviews close to the raw transcript of a conversation? Or did your interviewees want to make lots of edits until things were finally acceptable to them?

The conversations as they appear in the book are much more than transcripts. They are carefully crafted pieces of writing. We live in a golden age of podcasts today, and there are lots of places you can go to listen to long-form conversations with philosophers and other thinkers (and this is a very good thing). But I wanted this book to be written to be read, not just a collection of transcripts.

The way we worked was that I had a long conversation with each philosopher – around two hours in most cases – and used that material to draft a written dialogue. Each philosopher then had the opportunity to edit their chapter as much or as little as they chose. They had total freedom to change my questions, or their answers, and add points that occurred to them as they went. I took the same liberty and added my own material. Drafts went back and forth and each chapter was only considered finished when we were both happy.

The dialogues, then, really occurred at two levels: in each case there was the dialogue we had on the day, and then a further, different kind of dialogue as we exchanged drafts. In some cases my conversation partners made extensive changes, in others they changed little more than a comma or two! The important thing was that each person was happy with the final result – that they said what they wanted to say. I wrote the book in this way because I wanted people to be able to speak freely, and not worry that everything they said was set in stone. Philosophy, after all, is about going back and thinking again and again, and revising and fine-tuning arguments. I think this approach worked well.

Philosophy is often understood as an adversarial sort of discipline, where people seek to criticise each other’s positions, sometimes as an end in itself. How much truth do you think there is in this claim? And, to the extent that philosophy is about defending a position, how did this bear on the approach you took to interviewing philosophers?

Philosophy can be very adversarial, but I took a different approach. The adversarial approach has its place. It’s a bit like the way science proceeds: someone puts up a hypothesis then does everything they can to disprove it. If it survives then it’s a good hypothesis! Likewise, I can see the value in two philosophers fighting it out to see who has the stronger position.

But this book is different. One of its functions is to introduce the reader to philosophy, and most importantly to the concerns and work of the philosopher in question. I wanted the reader first and foremost to understand what each philosopher was saying, not why what they were saying is better than what anyone else is saying. I don’t necessarily agree with every philosophical position put forward in the book. I saw my role as conducting a conversation for the benefit of the ‘eavesdropping’ reader, not arguing for my own views.

Having said that, in many cases a good way to help explain a position is to test it by offering a question or counter-argument. Sometimes we only understand what a philosopher is saying when we understand what they are not saying. But for the most part, I was not taking the position of a rival philosopher at an academic conference; rather, I was an interested observer, trying to get to the bottom of what a particular philosopher was thinking – hence the title. It’s about what they are thinking, not what I’m thinking.

You’ve got a philosophical background yourself, but have worked as a writer in other domains, such as playwriting. The interview questions you formulated are remarkably free from academic jargon or technicalities, and I think this helped the answers achieve a similar level of accessibility. In what way did you find yourself drawing on your different experiences and skills in this project?

The fact I’ve written plays is probably one of the reasons I was attracted to writing the book in dialogue form. It’s a way of writing (and thinking) that comes naturally to me. But it’s also a form that works particularly well for philosophy. Some of the earliest philosophy we know about in the Western tradition is written in dialogue: Plato tried to capture the encounters between his teacher Socrates and various disciples and opponents. Of course, we don’t know how much of the resulting work is Plato and how much is Socrates, because Plato wasn’t able to send his drafts to Socrates for checking in the way that I did with my philosophers!

Another kind of writing I’ve done is speechwriting. I think this also helped me in trying to write a book for the non-specialist. When you’re helping to draft a speech, the first thing you need to do is make sure you’re capturing exactly what the person giving the speech wants to say – and this was very important for my book, too, as I didn’t want to misrepresent any of my conversation partners. But the second thing you need to do when writing a speech is to make sure it’s right for the audience that will hear it, that they can understand it first go, no matter how complex the subject matter. In the case of a speech, the audience only gets one chance. This is a good discipline for any writer who is trying to communicate difficult ideas to a general audience. I hope the book is accessible, but at the same time I do think it will be challenging at points. That’s part of the fun of philosophy!

Was there anything that surprised you, or was unexpected, about any of the answers you got (or didn’t get!) in these interviews?

Every conversation had its surprises. To take just one example, I really enjoyed hearing from Margaret Cameron about the historical work that needs to be done when dealing with a philosopher from the past – in her case, the medieval philosopher Peter Abelard. You can’t just go to a library and pull his work off the shelf. You have to be a bit like Indiana Jones, searching out original vellum manuscripts from libraries or even medieval monasteries overseas. Then you have to translate the manuscripts from the original Latin – and as Margaret reminds us in her conversation, every translation is at the same time an interpretation.

But what’s particularly exciting is that after you’ve done all that hard historical work, you’re confronted with ideas that are absolutely relevant to the philosophical questions we’re dealing with today. I find it quite moving to think that a human being living hundreds or even thousands of years ago might have been thinking about the very same questions I am thinking about today – and their thinking might be relevant to mine.

And more generally, did the process of putting these interviews together reveal anything interesting to you about how philosophers go about doing the work of their discipline?

One thing that struck me is the care that philosophers take. They don’t want to be misunderstood – not for egotistical reasons, but because fine distinctions become very important when you’re pushing thought to its limits. Often in our conversations I would try to sum up a position for my imagined general reader, only to find myself being gently corrected by my conversation partner, who could see that my way of putting things might send a reader down the wrong track.

To me, the care philosophers take sets philosophy apart from so much public discourse today. Often people use words to tear down their political opponents, or to fudge the truth, or to call attention away from what they don’t want people to see, or to elevate their own interests, or whatever. This is rhetoric in the worst sense: language in the service of power, divorced from truth. Having just admitted to being a speechwriter some might say this is the pot calling the kettle black! I think there is a legitimate kind of political rhetoric, but philosophy at its best has no agenda but the truth.

It was also interesting to observe how my conversation partners, no matter how abstract their philosophical concerns, were able to say how their claims and arguments are relevant to our common life today. There is a bad version of this where philosophy feels it has to serve some agenda or other, but that’s not what I found in these conversations. Philosophy can contribute to public discussions in unexpected ways.

For example, one of the biggest issues in the last few years has been sexual abuse and assault. The concept of ‘consent’ is right at the centre of this issue. In my conversation with Moira Gatens, she explained her attempts to expose the inadequacy of this concept (even though she agrees it is very important). Courts of law have to examine whether consent was present at a particular moment in time. But Gatens encourages us to think more deeply about the whole social, political and cultural environment in which we apply concepts such as consent.

Lastly, as someone who’s taken a bit of a look at the range of topics being studied by philosophers in Australia in 2023, do you think there are any areas of the subject that are under-represented, or could use more attention from us as a discipline?

There’s been a lot of talk recently about Australia’s response to its Indigenous peoples.  I would like to know more about how First Nations people have thought over the millennia about the big human questions that we tackle in philosophy. I suspect their approaches will be very different to the approaches of academic philosophy, particularly in the Western tradition. But we’re all trying to work out our common humanity, and I would hope there would be ways of engaging one tradition with another. People may well be doing this, but it’s not in the book, and it’s a gap worth filling – perhaps in the sequel!

What Are They Thinking? features interviews with Margaret Cameron, Christopher Cordner, Bronwyn Finnigan, Moira Gatens, Daniel Halliday, Seth Lazar, Kristie Miller, Dalia Nassar, Greg Restall, and Peter Singer.

Daniel Nellor has worked as a writer in politics, academia and the corporate and not-for-profit sectors. He is currently co-writing a book with the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Divinity, Professor Peter Sherlock, about prominent Australians who have studied theology, and another book with former Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow on artificial intelligence and human rights. Daniel was awarded his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Melbourne in 2019. His thesis in the area of moral and political philosophy was completed under the supervision of Associate Professor Christopher Cordner, who taught philosophy at Melbourne for several decades before his recent retirement. Daniel is also a playwright.


Pascale Bastien

Pascale Bastien (PhD in Philosophy, 2023), Economic Growth, Liberalism, and the Good: A Contemporary Eudaimonistic Evaluation

The majority of states worldwide pursue economic growth as a policy objective, and this tends to be justified in liberal and welfarist terms. However, the legitimacy of this pursuit is rarely debated and appears to be largely taken for granted. This thesis thus seeks to evaluate the legitimacy of the pursuit of economic growth as a policy objective in affluent countries, with a particular focus on well-being.

Part 1 establishes the grounds for a normative evaluation of the pursuit of economic growth in affluent countries. Chapter 1 focuses on methodology. It argues that the economy is a proper target for a normative evaluation, and that the methodologies of social critique and political economy are appropriate to this evaluation. Chapter 2 explores the historical roots and the ideological features of the commitment to economic growth. This understanding of the commitment to economic growth in ideological terms contributes an explanation for the fact that it is rarely questioned. Chapter 3 investigates the relationship between economic growth and consumerism, and shows that individuals in consumerist societies are structurally constrained to engage in the consumerist lifestyle of working and spending, which challenges the association between economic growth and freedom, and raises questions regarding welfare.

Part 2 elaborates and defends a contemporary theory of welfare eudaimonism which will form the basis for an evaluation of the pursuit of economic growth. Chapter 4 draws on a psychological theory called self-determination theory, and sketches a theory of welfare eudaimonism called self-determination eudaimonism. Central to this theory is the idea that human beings flourish when they engage in activities which fulfil their basic psychological needs. Chapter 5 defends the plausibility of a deflationary teleological explanation of prudential well-being in terms of self-fulfilment. Chapter 6 elaborates on self-determination eudaimonism and shows how it can be understood in terms of normative motivation. Chapter 7 discusses the development of normative motivation and its relationship with practical rationality.

Finally, Part 3 evaluates the pursuit of economic growth as a policy objective in affluent countries in light of the framework developed in Part 2. Chapter 8 argues that the consumerist lifestyle entailed by the pursuit of economic growth undermines well-being, such that the pursuit of economic growth is illegitimate as a welfarist policy. In addition, since individuals in consumerist societies are structurally constrained to engage in this lifestyle, the underlying structure can be deemed unjust. Lastly, the pursuit of economic growth as a policy objective seriously limits the freedom to live as one sees fit and amounts to the imposition of a particular conception of the good, which is inconsistent with liberal principles. Part 3 ends with a brief discussion of what the good life may look like in the post-growth society.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Daniel Halliday, Andrew Alexandra

Annual Fellows’ Research Day

On 21 July 2023, the SHAPS Fellows & Friends of History held the annual Fellows' Research Day. Fay Woodhouse wrote an overview of the day for Forum, discussing the speakers and their topics, as well as other enjoyable aspects of the day.

The Annual SHAPS Fellows' Research Day, held on a predictably cold Melbourne morning in July, was warmly opened by Chips Sowerwine who has been part of the Fellows group since 2008 when he retired. He referred to the first annual Research Days, and paid tribute to Juliet Flesch and Fay Woodhouse for their establishment of the Fellows Group. We are very happy to report that 31 Fellows and friends registered for the day. Sadly, four had to cancel at the last moment due to ill health – they were Charles Coppel, Wendy Dick, Graham Dudley and Sheila Fitzpatrick. Apologies also came from June Factor, Juliet Flesch, Rosemary Francis, Catherine Kovesi, Ian Rae and Tony Ward.

In attendance were: Richard Brown, Geoffrey Browne, Greg Burgess, Alex Butler, Cecily Close, Helen Davies, Tonia Eckfeld, Jean Ely, Georgina Fitzpatrick, Susan Foley, Zachary Gorman, Kathleen Henshall, Rod Home, Anthea Hyslop, John Lack, Val Noone, Linda Notley, David Palmer, John and Marion Poynter, Carolyn Rasmussen, Dianne Reilly, Mary Sheehan, Chips Sowerwine, Frances Thiele, Christine Walker, Fay Woodhouse.

Val Noone, 'Religion in the 1980s Nuclear Arms Crisis: Catholics in Melbourne'

Our first speaker, Val Noone, presented his paper on a largely overlooked aspect of religion in the 1980s – Catholics in Melbourne and the nuclear arms crisis. While this aspect of religious history was unknown to most of his audience, Val’s story was able to shine a light on a grassroots movement that was active during the early 1980s in response to the nuclear arms race.

Val and his wife, Mary, were members of the Melbourne-based group, Catholics for Peace, which was part of the People for Nuclear Disarmament coalition. His presentation included a number of newspaper clippings and images of pamphlets from his own collection. Val drew our attention to the group’s part in eclipsing the pro-nuclear policies of BA Santamaria and the National Civic Council.

Fay Woodhouse, Alex Butler & Richard Brow, 'Secret Report Reveals why Government Closed ABC Radio Station in 1977'

Fay's talk provided the context to the search for a missing Cabinet paper, written by Ian Lindenmayer et al. in July 1976 and always known as ‘The Lindenmayer Report’. This report was misleadingly labelled as ‘Ethnic Radio Stations – Financial Assistance’ at the National Archives in Canberra.

The Fraser government accepted the recommendations in this report, favouring Melbourne’s ethnic radio station 3EA over the ABCs multi-lingual access radio station 3ZZ. After two years on air, the ABC station was closed in July 1977 by the Fraser government: they exerted political pressure on the ABC Commission who acquiesced.

This, we believe, is arguably the single most serious attack on the ABC's independence in its history. Fay’s former 3ZZ colleagues, Alex Butler and Richard Brown, answered a wide range of questions, which added greatly to the discussion.

Tonia Eckfeld, 'The Dunera Voyage'

Many in the audience knew of the HMT Dunera and its arrival in Australia in 1940 but little of the voyage, when 2,542 men were transported from Liverpool England to Australia on the Dunera in hellish cramped, unsafe, and unsanitary confinement. Most were Austrian and German civilian refugees from Hitler’s oppression; many were Jewish. The internees suffered deprivation, brutality and abuse. Robbery and beatings by their British guards occurred throughout the 58-day voyage. Tonia’s uncle, Waldemar Eckfeld (aged 24), and father, Reinhold Eckfeld (aged 18), were two of those on board, with Waldemar suffering shocking violence, which she described in her talk. Her family archive was the source of wonderful documentation from the voyage, including drawings by Reinhold of their shipboard experiences. The fact that British government records were destroyed makes the job of the family historian much more difficult, not to mention the injustice to the people involved. Tonia’s presentation generated rich and fruitful discussion on the writing and focus of this aspect of her family history. The feedback she received was useful and she commented that she came away with a fresh mind to complete the last part of her book – the introduction.

Zachary Gorman, 'The Young Menzies: 1894–1942'

While many in the audience thought they knew much of the character of the older Robert Menzies, the young Menzies presents as equally an intriguing figure. Zac’s presentation raised many issues for discussion, including Menzies's early aspirations; the truth of his failure to serve in the First World War; his legal career; and his early and subsequent political career.

As well as highlighting the work of writers and subjects of his edited book, Zac addressed the question of the benefits and drawbacks of a multi-contributor approach to a biography of such a well-known Australian.

Mary Sheehan, 'Unrest Unveiled: Spanish Flu and the Melbourne Riots of 1919'

It came as a surprise to many in the room the extent of unrest in Melbourne during the 1919 Spanish Flu Pandemic. Mary argued that the pandemic created a pervasive sense of anxiety and uncertainty among workers, amplifying existing discontent over wartime price increases and stagnant wages.

The month of July 1919 was a month of ongoing protest marches – and one had occurred on 21 July, the very day we were meeting. The number of unemployed was high at this time. The psychological impact of the disease also heightened risk aversion and bolstered the willingness of workers to fight for improved conditions and wages. Mary’s paper generated much discussion and there was clearly great interest in her topic.

Dianne Reilly, 'Patrick Bonaventure Geoghegan: Pioneering Catholic Priest'

Scholar of early Melbourne, and an authority on Melbourne’s Lieutenant Governor, Charles Joseph La Trobe, Dianne presented her paper on a name known to many – but a character that was largely unknown. Father Patrick Bonaventure Geoghegan (pronounced gay’gan) proved to be something of a surprise package! Born in Dublin in 1805 and orphaned at eight, he joined the priesthood at a very young age. He was ordained in 1830 and in 1837 sailed for Australia, working in Sydney before being sent to Melbourne. Once in Melbourne, he was keen to build a church for his flock, which he began: the foundation stone was laid in October 1841. St Francis Church was opened in October 1845. Missing out on the position of the first Bishop of Melbourne, he was appointed Vicar-General in 1848. It seems his passion was for education and, once appointed Archbishop of Adelaide, he successfully campaigned for Catholic churches in Adelaide and built several schools and twenty churches. After returning to Dublin, he died in 1864. An unusual personality, a bronze statue of Geoghegan outside St Francis Church hints at the personality of the man.

Georgina Fitzpatrick, 'The "Balloon Girl": The Brief Career of Nancy Maher'

As Georgina pointed out in her talk, the history of James Cassius Williamson, known for his theatrical business, J C Williamson, is well known. What was not known to our audience was the career of Nance Maher. What a story it is! Born in Sydney, in her teens Nance Maher began a career in the theatre as a trained opera singer-in-waiting who became known as ‘The Balloon Girl’ because of her exploits in theatres in Melbourne and Sydney.

Nance could be seen flying from what looks like a hot air balloon  across the stage. A risky job, especially when, in one performance, an audience member tried to pull her down from the stage with his stick! Nance went on to have another career – as Nance Barnard, who married Georgina’s great-uncle Horace. The story of Nance is one part of a family history written during the lockdowns and titled From Convicts to Chorus Girls: The Experiences of one Anglo-Jewish Family 1815–1920. We look forward to its publication.

Frances Thiele, 'The Irish Harp in Victoria: Music and Historical Evidence'

Coming at the end of a fabulous day of papers and great discussion, we welcomed Fran Thiele and her harp. As she pointed out, studying the harp and other musical instruments may be a somewhat esoteric aspect of colonial history. Yet, we all had so much to learn! To begin, we heard about the history of the Irish harp in Victoria. We learned that she had found and had restored a harp that had arrived in Victoria in 1840. More than that, her evidence of the provenance of her harp was clear: it appears in a nineteenth-century photograph of the harp, part of a group of harpists and other musicians at a Ballarat school.

Theory was fine, then Fran also explained to us the way a harp is played. And then, of course, our wonderful day was topped off with a performance of some well-known Irish tunes played on the harp on the very harp she brought with her and shown in the photograph! Members of the audience appreciated her talk and asked many questions. Her performance topped off a wonderful day.

Closing remarks on SHAPS Fellows' Research Day, 21 July 2023, by Val Noone

In his talk about the young Robert Menzies, Zachary Gorman quoted the conservative Irish nationalist Edmund Burke, which reminds me of Burke's comment on the importance of history, namely, "people will not look forward to posterity who never look back to their ancestors". Today’s seminar is, again, a good example of work by those who believe in looking back in order to look forward.

My opening paper took us back to the 1980s when the issue of nuclear war was on people's minds, as it is again, and I drew attention to the neglected role of religion in the nuclear disarmament campaign of that era.

Fay Woodhouse spoke about a secret report on the government’s intervention to close radio station 3ZZ in 1977, and she also remarked on current dangers. For that session we were fortunate to have brilliant participation from the floor by Alex Butler and Richard Brown, two ABC journalists/radio producers who lived through that saga.

Over recent years we have had presentations by June Factor and Ken Inglis about the German Jewish refugees who were transported to Australia on the Dunera in 1940 as ‘enemy aliens’. Today, Tonia Eckfeld, daughter of one of those refugees, argued that the dominant historiography has concentrated on success stories in Australia. Challenging that, she spoke about the misfortune which her uncle Waldemar (who came with her father) suffered at that time.

Zachary Gorman's paper on the young Menzies drew thanks from two of our leading Australianists, John Lack and Carolyn Rasmussen. Zachary stressed Menzies's emphasis on individual rights. We need to say, however, that the problems of our day such as global warming and nuclear war cannot be solved by individual effort but can only be solved if humanity works together.

Mary Sheehan updated us on her research into the 1919 flu pandemic. It was a pleasure to hear the level of detailed information she has uncovered along with new angles from a bird's-eye view, when she spoke about the 5500 people involved in a near riot in Melbourne over the pandemic and related industrial unrest on 21 July 1919. For fun, I made a note that today is the 104th anniversary of that occasion.

The role of religion in public life made a second appearance when Dianne Reilly evoked a picture of the harmony between Christian denominations in the early years of Melbourne, as reflected in the life of Father Patrick Geoghegan. As with other papers, Dianne evoked lively discussion from the floor.

Georgina Fitzpatrick rescued from obscurity Sydney singer Nance Maher and, in particular, her spectacular stunt as ‘The Balloon Girl’ in J C Williamson's company in the early 1900s. When Georgina recalled Maher’s part in The Quaker Girl, I understood better why my aunt Edith loved to play the sheet music from that show.

In the last paper of the day Frances Thiele gave a fascinating presentation on the historical Irish harp, including showing us a rare nineteenth-century harp found in Australia and recently restored by Bob Ballinger, on which she played a Thomas More piece and some of Carolan’s Concerto.

Today’s papers have been good examples of historical works which show how we come to be the way we are, and thereby, show that history is contingent, that is, things do not have to be the way they are. On your behalf I wish to thank Fay Woodhouse for the tower of work she put in on our behalf to make this day happen. And I wish to thank Greg Burgess for his work on the technical aspects of the day.


We were very pleased to have booked Room 257 (although not easy to find) because the facilities were excellent. Seating was comfortable and two screens were available to make reading PowerPoint presentations much easier than in some rooms we have used. This year we tried a new approach to catering. Given the location of the room, we enjoyed a selection of individual Bento Boxes. They were a hit! We had a choice of Greek, Asian, sandwiches, quiches and a gluten free choice. The consensus was that these are worth ordering again. At the end of the day, we also enjoyed cheese and biscuits, a glass or two of wine and even more conversation. On a straw poll, our 2023 Fellows & Friends Annual Research Day was voted the Best Ever!

Fay Woodhouse

SHAPS Digest (October 2023)

Mike Arnold (HPS) and Tamara Kohn (School of Social and Political Sciences) discussed different rituals involving remembering and letting go of the dead, in an article for Pursuit.

Matthew Champion (History) was featured on the ABC's WTFAQ, answering the question: How did people wake up before the alarm clock?

Matthew Champion's ARC DECRA project, The Sounds of Time, convened a Zoom Collaboratory with Antwerp University and the ERC-funded project, Back to the Future, asking what new digital methods allow us to understand about temporality and epistolary culture across the period 1400–1800. The project is hosted a visit from Dr Tessa Murdoch from the University of Buckingham, a former curator with 20 years experience at the V&A, who spoke on ‘The Huguenot Diaspora, Horology and Time’.

The latest issue of the undergraduate History journal Chariot was launched. This year's issue was produced by a team led by Tahlia Antrobus, Porter Mattinson, Dominique-Dee Jones, and Pamela Piechowicz.

Mark Edele (Hansen Chair in History, and Deputy Dean, Faculty of Arts) was interviewed for the New Books Network Russian and Eurasian Studies podcast about his latest book, Russia's War Against Ukraine: The Whole Story (Melbourne University Publishing).

Jacinthe Flore (HPS) was interviewed in the Washington Post regarding the legacy of the neurologist António Egas Moniz, a pioneer of the lobotomy, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1949.

A play based on Jacinthe Flore's fieldwork for the ARC Linkage project Borderline Personality as Social Phenomena was performed at Kaleide Theatre as part of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Awareness Week. The play, Borderline, was created from interviews conducted with people with BPD and aimed at unearthing a more human understanding of life with BPD.

A number of our staff, students and alumni signed the open letter by historians on the Voice Referendum.

The HPS Podcast entered into its second season, publishing four new episodes: Rachel Ankeny (University of Adelaide) on research repertoires; David Kaiser (MIT) on scientific training; Kristian Camilleri on the 'turn to practice'; and Duane Hamacher on Indigenous Science. The HPS Podcast is produced and hosted by Samara Greenwood and Indigo Keel.

Molly McKew (PhD in History, 2019) published an article in Overland, 'The Work of Friendship: The New Communities of Melbourne's 60s and 70s Counterculture'.

Daniel Nellor discussed his book, What Are They Thinking? Conversations with Australian Philosophers, on 3RRR's Uncommon Sense. The book features interviews with ten philosophers including SHAPS' Margaret Cameron, Chris Cordner and Dan Halliday.

Tim Parkin (Classics & Archaeology) discussed life in Roman cities and towns on the history podcast PlanningxChange.


The videorecording of a talk delivered by Andonis Piperoglou, 'Toward a Global History of Greek Diasporizations: Reflections and Pathways from Australia' (2nd Greek Canadian Studies Conference, York University, May 2023) is now available online.

Andonis Piperoglou was interviewed [in English] at the YES March for SBS Ελληνικά (SBS Greek) on the Voice referendum and how diaspora communities can support the Yes vote.

The exhibition, Ancient Lives: Insights from the Classics and Archaeology Collection, Ian Potter Museum was reviewed in the Australian (behind paywall). The exhibition was curated by Classics and Archaeology Fellows Tamara Lewit and Caroline Tully.

Academic Publications

Purushottama Bilimoria (Principal Fellow, Philosophy), Jaysankar Lal Shaw, Anand Vaidya and Michael Hemmingsen (eds), Mind, Body and Self: Perspectives of Consciousness (Palgrave Macmillan)

This book is a unique collaboration of philosophers from across the world bringing together contemporary concepts of consciousness, the Māori conception of self, as well as Indian and Buddhist concepts of self and mental states. Contemporary concepts of consciousness include higher-order consciousness and phenomenological approaches. The idea behind this volume came from an international conference on ‘Mind, Body and Self’ held at Victoria University of Wellington; organised by the Society for Philosophy and Culture. The authors herein contribute to the relationship between concepts of self, mind and body.  The wide variety of contributors from across cultural backgrounds add to a diverse and valuable conversation on the nature of human existence and thoughts of self. This book appeals to students and researchers working in philosophy and religious studies.

Purushottama Bilimoria, Cogen Bohanec and Rita D Sherma (eds), Contemplative Studies and Jainism: Meditation, Prayer, and Veneration (Routledge India)

This volume is one of the first wideranging academic surveys of the major types and categories of Jain praxis. It covers a breadth of scholarly viewpoints that reflect both the variegation in terms of spiritual practices within the Jain traditions as well as the Jain hermeneutical perspectives, which are employed in understanding its rich diversity.

The volume illustrates a complex and nuanced understanding of the multifaceted category of Jain religious thought and practice. It offers a rare intrareligious dialogue within Jain traditions and at the same time, significantly broadens and enriches the field of Contemplative Studies to include an ancient, ascetic, non-theistic tradition. Meditation, yoga, ritual, prayer are common to all Indic spiritual traditions. By investigating these diverse, yet overlapping, categories one might obtain a sophisticated understanding of religious traditions that originally emerged in South Asia. Essays in this book demonstrate how these forms of praxis in Jainism, and the philosophies that anchor those practices, are interrelated, and when brought into dialogue, help to foster new tools for understanding a complex and variegated tradition such as Jain Dharma.

This book will be useful to scholars and researchers of religious and theological studies, contemplative studies, Jain studies, Hindu studies, consciousness studies, Yoga studies, Indian philosophy and religion, sociology of religion, philosophy of religion, comparative religion and South Asian studies, as well as general readers interested in the topic.

Matthew S Champion (History), 'Saint Catherine and the Clock: Possible Histories of Sound and Time in Fourteenth- and Fifteenth-Century France', Speculum

This article charts the possible histories of sound and time inaugurated by a musical clock that was perhaps installed in the Benedictine Abbey of Sainte-Catherine-du-Mont, Rouen, in 1321. This clock is said to have played the advent hymn Conditor alme siderum [Dear Creator of the Stars] on its bells. The clock’s brief appearance in a later chronicle collection provides the cue for the article’s shape as a series of reflections on possible histories – historical analysis undertaken when the original object of research is empirically questionable. Commencing with an analysis of clocks with multiple bells from the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, the article shows that the clock at Rouen was not an anachronistic technology in the period. It then moves to consider the poetic temporalities of the hymn Conditor alme siderum, showing how multiple liturgical times were intertwined in the clock’s possible music. Turning from the object to the institution, the article then seeks out the historical and material conditions that may have made this clock possible at Sainte-Catherine’s. Finally, triggered by the connection of the clock to Saint Catherine herself, the article approaches sound and time through Catherine’s legend in the Legenda aurea and a sequence of images that can be arranged to reveal possible connections between sound, time, reason, devotion, and the suffering holy body.

Matthew S Champion, 'Calendars, Clocks, and Crossings: Religious Temporalities in Medieval Middelburg', Archiv für Religionsgeschichte

This article takes as its focus the booming port city of Middelburg, Zeeland, in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. As a node in networks of trade and travel, Middelburg’s religious life was shaped by the mobility of historical objects and agents. Despite its significance, however, Middelburg has remained relatively understudied both in the history of urban life and in the history of religion, partly because of the extensive damage to the city’s archives in the turmoil of the twentieth century. Turning to those sections of the town accounts that were recorded before the archive’s destruction, and drawing on material and literary records, the article first seeks out the rhythms of the city shaped by the liturgical calendar. It then turns to the remarkable new musical clocks that played fragments of liturgical chant and that were commissioned for the city in the early sixteenth century.

In 1515 a clock played Da pacem Domine on the hour and Regina caeli laetare on the half hour. In 1525, another clock was commissioned that played the Ave maris stella alongside Da pacem Domine – a chant particularly suited to Middelburg’s maritime setting. This object allows reflection on the sonic framework of urban religion and its close connections with the town’s maritime setting. Moving from the monumental and sonic experience of urban religion, the article then turns to examine the ways in which pilgrimage shaped the city’s time. It focuses first on the English mystic Margery Kempe, whose travel narrative allows an exploration of the possible affective rhythms of urban time. Finally, it traces the temporalities of pilgrimage at more minute scales, examining the archaeological record of pilgrimage. Taken together, the article suggests that urban religion in Middelburg must be seen as rhythmic in the sense of a local performance inflected by particular local contingencies. In approaching Middelburg’s urban religion through this transmedial history, the article seeks to model approaches to urban religious temporality that respond to time’s intricate complexities at multiple scales in a period of rapid change and urban expansion.

David Goodman (History), with Sarah C Dunstan and Glenda Sluga, 'Cosmopolitan, Global, International? New York’s Material Sites of Memory and Forgetting', in Sites of International Memory (University of Pennsylvania Press), edited by Glenda Sluga, Kate Darian-Smith and Madeleine Herren.

The essays in the book address the notion of a shared past, and how this idea is promulgated through sites and commemorative gestures that create or promote cultural memory of such global issues as wars, genocide, and movements of cross-national trade and commerce, as well as resistance and revolution. This chapter

map[s] a history of how New York has functioned as a site of repeated forgetting, where the many layers of its international pasts have been compressed and redacted. These include a New York that was a haven for the dispossessed and a space for the mixing of peoples. Then there was the New York that stood for the global philanthropic and business interests material to the changing skyline of Midtown Manhattan with its constant throb of transnational communication and exchange. As we show, without Rockefeller funding, New York’s sites of international memory would look radically different. As significantly, there was an international New York represented by the neighborhood of Harlem, a crucial site of the memory of twentieth-century internationalism that is a focus of this volume.

James Keating (Teaching Associate, History), '"Trust the Women": Dora Meeson Coates’s Suffrage Banner and the Popular Construction of Australia’s Feminist Past in the Late Twentieth Century', Histoire Sociale / Social History

In 1988, the Australian federal government purchased Anglo-Australian artist Dora Meeson Coates’s Trust the Women banner as part of the country’s belated efforts to memorialise the suffrage victories that once made its white citizens the most enfranchised people on earth. However, between the fin de siècle and the 1970s, which witnessed the concurrent rise of women’s history and state feminism, feminists had been ambivalent about commemorating the suffrage campaigns, especially at the national level. Since the late 1980s, the banner has experienced a transformation from an artefact few Australians had known about, much less forgotten, into the most familiar symbol of the country’s suffrage movements. Brought about by memory agents – activists, bureaucrats, historians, and politicians – this shift reveals the public appeal of British suffrage iconography over the material record of Australian activists’ 'quiet' toil, a sentiment which has increasingly shaped the memorialisation of local suffrage stories.

Caroline Tully (Fellow, Classics & Archaeology) and Helen A Berger edited the recently released double special issue of the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture 17 (3&4) on Contemporary Pagan Ecospiritualities. The journal originated from a series of papers from the Ecological Spiritualities Conference in April 2022 at Harvard Divinity School. The special issue includes an article by Caroline:

'Paradise on Earth: Feraferia and the Landscapes of the Mind'

Feraferia, ‘a love culture for wilderness’, is a contemporary Pagan religion that celebrates humans’ erotic union with Nature. It was the brainchild of artist Frederick Adams (1928–2008), who in 1956 had a vision of a universal goddess and subsequently devoted himself to the divine feminine as a ‘Maiden Goddess of the Wilderness’ called Korê. Formally incorporated in 1967, Feraferia became the second Pagan church in US history, and it is still active today. Herein the author examines Feraferia through an ecocritical lens, with a particular focus on the role of trees, the anthropomorphisation of nature envisioned as a young female body, ecosexuality, and the construction of henges; circular structures aligned with local topography, used as seasonal and astronomical calendars wherein ritual magic and ‘faerie enchantment’ are employed in order to heal and revitalise the natural world. She demonstrates that Feraferia’s enchanted approach to the world resonates with contemporary ecological activist thought, particularly ecofeminism and ecosexuality. She concludes that many of Feraferia’s ecospiritual concepts have value today because they can heighten conscious awareness of human situatedness within the real physical world, both on our own planet as well as within the wider surrounding space of our part of the universe.

Other contributions by Caroline include the Introduction to the special issue, written with Helen A Berger, and two book reviews.

Awards & Appointments

Divya Rama Gopalakrishnan (PhD in History, 2023) is the winner of this year's History Fellows' Prize. The prize, generously funded by the History Fellows' group, is awarded annually for the best article published by a post-graduate student. Divya won the prize for her article, 'Gomastahs, Peons, Police and Chowdranies: The Role of Indian Subordinate in the Functioning of the Lock Hospitals and the Indian Contagious Diseases Act, 1805 to 1889', published in 2022 in the journal NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin.

Recent scholarship on the social history of health and medicine in colonial India has moved beyond enclavist or hegemonic aspects of imperial medicine and has rather focused on the role of Indian intermediaries and the fractured nature of colonial hegemony. Drawing inspiration from this scholarship, the article highlights the significance of the Indian subordinates in the lock hospital system in the nineteenth-century Madras Presidency. The study focuses on a class of Indian subordinates called the gomastah, who were employed to detect clandestine prostitution in Madras to control the spread of venereal disease. It also underlines the role of other native Indian and non-native subordinates such as Dhais, Chowdranies and Matrons, the ways in which they became indispensable for the smoother operation of the Contagious Diseases Act and the lock hospitals on a day-to-day basis.

By emphasising how Indian subordinates were able to bring in caste biases within colonial governmentality, adding another layer to the colonial prejudices and xenophobia against the Indian population, it underlines the fact that there was not a one-way appropriation or facilitation of the coloniser's knowledge or biases by the colonised intermediaries. Rather, it argues for an interaction between them and highlights the complexities of caste hierarchies and prejudice within the everyday colonial governmentality. Moreover, the article focuses on the consequent chaos and inherent power struggle between different factions of colonial staff.

Principal Fellow Adrian Howe's book, Crimes of Passion since Shakespeare: Red Mist Rage Unmasked, has been nominated for an Socio-Legal Studies Association book prize.

Dominique-Dee Jones (final-year BA student, History major) has been awarded an Australian War Memorial Summer Vacation Scholarship.

Jonathan Kemp (Cultural Materials Conservation) is part of a team that has won an Asia and the Pacific Profile Grant (2023–2024) for their project Cultural Material Conservation in Laos: Showcasing a Joint Australian-Lao Cultural Research Initiative. The Lead Investigators are Louise Shewan (Science, University of Melbourne) and Jonathan Kemp. Investigators are Thonglith Luangkhoth (Director, Lao Department of Heritage), and Dougald O'Reilly (ANU).

This grant will enable preliminary work for the design and delivery of in-country conservation workshops to train local heritage personnel to assist them in meeting the requirements for protection of the Plain of Jars, an important UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Jonathan Kemp has also secured Indigenous Knowledge Institute Seed Funding (2023–2024) for the project Conserving Rock Heritage in Gariwerd using Machine Learning, Indigenous Knowledge Institute. Jonathan Kemp is the project's Lead Investigator, heading a team comprising Wendy Luke (Parks Victoria), Jake Goodes (Parks Victoria), Louise Shewan (Science, University of Melbourne), Kourosh Khoshelham (Engineering and IT, University of Melbourne).

Despite advances in Machine Learning (ML) and 3D visualisation, these technologies are yet to be used to make cost effective holistic conservation for both advocacy and targeted conservation of imperilled Aboriginal rock heritage. The IKI grant enables the team to build a proof-of-concept model using data gathered from sites in Gariwerd.

Zoë Laidlaw (History), as part of a team comprising Jane Lydon (UWA), Catherine Hall (UCL), Alan Lester (Sussex), Keith McClelland (UCL), Edmond Smith (University of Manchester), Kiera Lindsey (History Trust of South Australia), and Annette Shiell (National Trust of Australia [Victoria]) has been successful in the latest round of ARC Discovery Project grants.

Australian Legacies of British Slavery: Capital, Land and Labour ... aims to bring Australia into the global history of slavery by exploring the legacies of British slavery in South Australia and Victoria. Through developing methods for biographical research and digital mapping, it will trace the movement of capital, people and culture from slave-owning Britain to the new settler colonies, and produce a new history of the continuing impact of slavery wealth in shaping colonial immigration, investment, and law. Expected outcomes of this project include enhanced capacity to build international disciplinary collaborations, new research methods, and research capacity building. Benefits include a radically new perspective on Australian history and abolition in the present, with major public outcomes.

Classical Association of Victoria Annual Prizes

The Classical Association of Victoria (CAV), founded in 1912, operates for the propagation and wellbeing of Classics and Ancient World Studies in the state of Victoria. A number of SHAPS students recently had success in the CAV's annual prize rounds.

The Alexander Leeper Prize is awarded annually to the highest-achieving undergraduate honours students in the state of Victoria who completed their honours degree in Classics in the previous calendar year. It is a condition of the award that the student studied Latin or Ancient Greek during their honours year. The prizes were awarded to two SHAPS students: Dan Crowley, who completed in Semester One, 2022, with the thesis 'Stories to Savour: The Power of the Plupast in Narrative in Herodotus' Histories'; and Leo Palmer (see below), who completed in Semester Two, 2022 with the thesis 'The Social Function of Bacchic Rites'. Dan and Leo are now both enrolled in a Master of Arts (Thesis Only) in Classics in SHAPS, supervised by Associate Prof. Hyun Jin Kim.

The CAV's Undergraduate Essay Prize was established in 2018 for the best essays written by third-year undergraduates studying Classics, Ancient History, Ancient World Studies or Archaeology at a Victorian university. This year, the prize was open to work submitted in the second half of 2021, and in 2022. After a rigorous double-blind judging, three students with essays in SHAPS subjects won prizes:

Phoebe Leggett won First Prize with her essay 'Who Knew What When? Reconciling Mythic Traditions with Contemporary Panhellenic Themes in Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis', written in 2021 for the subject Ancient Greek 6 (CLAS30025). As the first prize winner, Phoebe's paper is eligible for publication in the Classical Association of Victoria's journal, Iris. As of October 2023, Phoebe is finishing her Honours degree in Linguistics at University of Melbourne.

Adam Moore won second prize with his essay 'To What Extent Does the Ideal Relationship Between erastes and eromenos as Described by the Character of Pausanias in Plato's Symposium Reflect the Broader Ideals of the Athenian Institution of Pederasty?' written in 2021 for the Ancient World Studies capstone, Interpreting the Ancient World (ANCW30017). Adam went on to finish Honours in Classics in SHAPS in 2022; as of October 2023, Adam is at Cambridge in the UK pursuing an MPhil.

Victoria Streeton-Cook won an Honourable Mention for her essay 'Describe the Depiction of Women in Petronius's Cena Trimalchionis. What does this Tell us About the Attitudes of the Characters and/or the Narrator?' written in 2022 for the subject Latin 5 (CLAS20030). Victoria finished her Bachelor of Science and Diploma in Languages (Latin) in mid-2023 and is now considering applying for a Melbourne Juris Doctor.

PhD Completions

Melanie Brand (PhD in History) A Question of Trust: Secrecy and Intelligence Accountability in Cold War Australia

Intelligence oversight and transparency have traditionally been conceptualised as a zero-sum equation in which decreases in secrecy were believed to come at the cost of intelligence agency efficacy. This thesis challenges that view. While a certain level of secrecy is protective, this thesis will demonstrate that excessive secrecy and a lack of accountability surrounding intelligence services is ultimately destructive. Using the role, functions and public perceptions of ASIO in Cold War Australia as a case study, I will establish that secrecy negatively affected intelligence efficacy in this period in Australia in multiple ways. With little to no guidance or oversight from Government, ASIO’s products became increasingly irrelevant to policymakers, and both Government and opposition members would lose sight of ASIO’s capabilities, limitations and value to Australian society. With no external guidance and no requirement to be accountable for its actions, secrecy allowed ASIO staff to break the boundaries of their legal remit and become involved in overtly political and partisan affairs. Significantly, secrecy also contributed to reduced trust in intelligence agencies and their staff. ASIO was deeply embedded within the community it served and significantly affected by the attitudes, beliefs and actions of the broader public. When intelligence agencies such as ASIO lose the trust of those they are supposed to protect, the morale of existing staff plummets, the recruitment of quality staff is made more difficult, influence with government and opposition is weakened and government spending on intelligence is threatened. The very legitimacy of intelligence agencies as a necessary element of democratic government can – and did – come in question, and with it, the future of the organisations themselves. Secrecy did not ensure intelligence efficiency in Cold War Australia: by destroying trust in the agency and its legitimacy in the eyes of the Australian public, it eroded it.

Supervisors: Professor Sean Scalmer, Dr Julie Fedor

Cancy Chu (PhD in Cultural Materials Conservation), Preserving Plastics in Paper-Based Collections

Plastics, referring to semi- or fully-synthetic mouldable polymeric materials, are now found in a wide range of cultural heritage materials. Ongoing research focused on plastics in museum collections show that the chemical stability of certain plastics are short-lived. These unstable plastics may additionally produce acidic products during deterioration, causing damage to neighbouring collections. Existing case studies of the rapid degradation of plastic materials associated with book and paper collections suggest the need for conservation attention to manage deterioration in libraries and archives. However, the types and condition of plastics in paper-based collections are not documented. Additionally, there are currently no targeted preservation strategies available.

This dissertation aims to gain an understanding of plastics in paper-based collections in order to make informed preservation recommendations. Interdisciplinary methods were employed in a four-stage progressive investigation:

1. Firstly, a literature review of relevant preservation practices situates the research within the plastics conservation field. A classification of plastics in paper-based collections is proposed. Existing preservation methods addressing each material subtype are summarised, revealing a gap in the literature on plastics associated with paper materials: bindings, organisers and protectors.

2. Next, an industry survey of professionals working in Australian archives was used to assess the need for preservation strategies. Results show that plastics are pervasive in Australian archives, found in at least 90% of responding institutions. Furthermore, plastics associated with paper in archives are reported in poor condition by more than half of respondents. Respondents rated highly the need for storage strategies and standardised guidelines, supporting a need for preservation solutions.

3. To understand plastics in paper-based collections, the object types, condition, and preservation strategies were determined though collection surveys of post-1950s paper-based collections at the South Australian Museum Archive in Adelaide, the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, and the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation in Melbourne. Using ATR-FTIR, 11 common polymers were identified, and ten binding structures were described. Observed deterioration was classified under four contributing causes. Based on observations, preservation recommendations were proposed addressing each of the four deterioration categories.

4. Lastly, a proposed storage strategy for plasticised poly(vinyl chloride) book covers was tested using artificial ageing. Three common sheet materials used in paper conservation were compared as possible interleaving materials. Although interleaving was observed to benefit the reduction of ink offset, other types of damage were accelerated by all three materials. This stage demonstrates the specific testing needs of a composite material combination.

Findings contribute to a deeper understanding of effective preservation approaches for plastics in paper-based collections. Overall, results show the need for storage guidelines, specific testing of composite materials, and interdisciplinary collaboration to improve preservation approaches.

This thesis is centred on practical industry outcomes and is amongst the first to specifically consider the overlap between plastics conservation and paper-based collections. Knowledge gaps addressed include material types, deterioration patterns, and suitable preservation methods. Although the thesis is focused on Australian collections, resulting recommendations are broadly relevant to paper-based collections, benefiting the preservation of information and culture for present and future generations.

Supervisors: Assoc. Prof. Petronella Nel, Prof. Robyn Sloggett

Max Denton (PhD in History), Same-Sex Marriage in Australia and the Transformation of an Institution, c. 1930–2017

This thesis explores the history of same-sex marriage in Australia between 1930 and the introduction of marriage equality in 2017. It examines the performance of religious and non-religious same-sex commitment ceremonies and weddings, and advocacy for relationship recognition. This thesis draws on a diverse range of archival sources to argue that there was a prominent and sustained interest in same-sex marriage in Australia and internationally since the emergence of modern lesbian and gay politics in the 1970s. It can be traced even earlier, with same-sex weddings forming an important part of pre-liberation Australian camp cultures. This interest in same-sex marriage was dispersed and haphazard, forwarded by same-sex couples, lesbian and gay Christians and other figures in public sexual politics. Yet it forms an important part of the history of sexual and social change in the twentieth century. The history of relationship recognition reform and activism in Australia was unique but was also shaped by global trends and flows of people and information. Ritual and ceremony played an important role in the development of new sexual identities and the conceptualisation of same-sex relationships, furthering the social acceptance of homosexuality in Australia. This thesis represents one of the first considerations of same-sex marriage as a historical phenomenon in Australia and historicises recent debates over marriage equality. The complicated and contested history of same-sex marriage prior to legalisation reveals much about how sexual politics has evolved in Australia, and how the institution of marriage itself has transformed over the twentieth century.

Supervisors: Prof. Joy Damousi, Dr Mary Tomsic (ACU)

Research Higher Degree Milestones

Completion Seminars

Kristal Buckley (PhD candidate, History), 'Heritage in Trouble? Learning from World Heritage Designation in Asia and Australia'

Based on Australian and Asian cases and an insider perspective, this thesis argues that trouble for World Heritage is embedded in its state-centric and universalising intentions. Promulgating a western framing of heritage, including a nature-culture divide, World Heritage is also troubled by its conceptual fluidity, competing purposes served by multilateral instruments, and limited effectiveness of conservation tools for an ever-broadening array of places and pressures. However, there is merit in 'staying with the trouble'. I argue that these tensions have created the ability for World Heritage and its prestige to evolve, creating both optimistic and pessimistic expectations.

Supervisors: Prof. Andrew Jamieson, Prof. Philip Goad, Prof. Kate Darian-Smith

Emily Cox (PhD candidate, History), 'Wunggurrwil Dhurrung: A Case Study of the Relational Ethic for non-Indigenous Designers working on Country'

While humans have always actively designed the built environment, settlers occupying the continent now called Australia have dramatically transformed and interrupted systems of place, causing significant damage to peoples and ecologies. My thesis analyses the design of the built environment in Australia as a relational practice involving First Nations and non-Indigenous peoples. The research considers the ethics, guidelines, protocols and practices that underpin design processes and works with the people who created Wunggurrwil Dhurrung as a case study to understand how relationships can underpin design practice. Engaging with critical Indigenous thinkers and designers, I discuss how non-Indigenous designers might understand the invitation to learn to live more lawfully in this place, acknowledging connections to and understanding of Country that stretch over 80,000 years of culture, or since time immemorial. Drawing on Settler Colonial theory, my analysis shows that the relational aspect of design practice is undertheorized, and that relational practices, beyond technical and procedural capabilities commonly understood as the principle concern for designers, have a significant impact on the success of built form on Aboriginal Country, especially but not only for First Nations.

Supervisors: Dr Julia Hurst, Prof. Sarah Maddison

Simon Farley (PhD candidate, History), '"Alien Hordes": A Cultural History of Non-Native Wildlife in Australia'

From 1788 on, settler Australians introduced a host of animal species into this continent. We did so largely deliberately, with high hopes, and often viewed these species with immense fondness. Yet now we label them "invasive species" and kill them at will. How did we get here? This seminar will trace settler Australians’ changing attitudes towards non-native wildlife from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Taking a longitudinal approach and focusing in particular on wild birds, I will discuss how the language, imagery and knowledge surrounding non-native wildlife changed over this period, as well as accounting for why these changes occurred. I argue that the introduction of animals is best understood in the context of settler colonialism as a system that generates ideas about who and what belongs to the land. As Anglo settlers’ understanding of their own belonging in this continent has changed, this has influenced their relationship to non-native wildlife. This has not occurred in a vacuum, of course, and this seminar will discuss the international scientific background to some of these shifts. But ultimately, this is not a story of empirical fact, but of culture and values.

Supervisors: Prof. Zoë Laidlaw, Prof. David Goodman

Amy Hodgson (PhD candidate, History), 'Chile’s Truth Commissions: Oral Histories of Individual Impact for Staff and Testifiers'

Truth commissions are the transitional justice tool most often reached for by transitional or post-conflict nations. They are often touted as 'victim-centric' processes, with therapeutic potential for victimised communities. Yet, as several scholars have highlighted, the impact a truth commission has on the individuals and communities who provide testimony is varied and complex, and possibly affected by the political, professional and personal positions of the truth commission staff with whom they interact. This dissertation seeks to add to this discussion by examining Chile’s two truth commissions: the 1990–1991 Rettig Commission and the 2003–2004 Valech Commission. I ask, how did staff and testifiers experience their participation in the truth commissions? Were aspects of the commissions abrasive or upsetting for staff and/or testifiers? And, how are the experiences of staff and testifiers connected? I argue that the experiences of staff and testifiers are deeply linked, and that that the very structure of the truth commission model makes it difficult to prioritise either testifier or staff welfare. While truth commissions may be methodologically 'victim-centric', they are ultimately fact-finding missions and not therapeutic instruments.

Supervisors: Dr Julie Fedor, Dr Roland Burke (La Trobe University)

Aloysius Landrigan (PhD candidate, History), 'May Day 1890–1914: Internationalism and Unity across the Labour Movement and Working Classes of Britain, Australia, and the United States'

Annual May Day demonstrations in Britain, Australia, and the United States from 1890 were an annual opportunity to develop internationalism and unity across the working class and labour movement. As May Day demonstrations evolved, they reflected the shifting membership, power, conflicts, and ideals of the British, Australian, and American labour movements. Demonstrations drew on similar practices including banners, marches, speeches, and resolutions. May Day was experienced locally and as such was influenced by local politics, economics, and concepts of leisure, for example. However, May Day was also an internationalist event that created and maintained transnational ties. Consequently, May Day exists as a duality, both local and international. By closely considering this duality analysis of May Day can reveal the relationship between the local working class and international socialism.

May Day’s beginning in 1890 coincided with an era of manufactured traditions and drew upon pre-industrial traditions as part of its practice. Children dancing around Maypoles and other traditional, pagan, medieval, and naturalist motifs gave these demonstrations a sense of an ancient rite reclaimed. Labour’s May Day seemed ancient and historic as it adopted these rituals. It espoused an internationalist ideology that had its participants acknowledge internationalism and socialism as an extension of their working-class identity. This was dialectically opposed to the cosmopolitan, capitalist, identity of the bourgeoisie. They were expected to embrace their comrades from across the globe as internationalists. They shared newspapers, artwork, poetry, fraternal greetings, victories, and defeats with them each May Day as they professed universal peace. May Day was a vital time in the labour movement and is a key moment to study its strength, composition, unity, transnational ties, artistic representation, cultural practices, unity, ideas, objectives, and failing.

Supervisors: Prof. Sean Scalmer, Prof. Joy Damousi

Confirmation Seminars

Ronak Alburz (PhD candidate, Classics & Archaeology), 'Transmission of Orientalizing Trends to Central Italy via the Steppes and the Balkan Region'

The introduction of Oriental cultural and artistic traditions in Italy has conventionally been attributed to the Phoenician and Greek colonists who settled in central and southern Italy during the eight and fifth centuries BCE. This influence was believed to have primarily traveled through Mediterranean routes. However, this research project seeks to challenge this widely held perspective by examining scattered archaeological findings. These findings hint at the possibility that specific elements of Eastern culture might have reached northern and central Italy through an alternative continental route, possibly via the Pontic/Balkan region. This project will explore two potential transmission routes in pursuit of a more comprehensive understanding of this phenomenon. Ultimately, it holds the potential to reveal previously undiscovered evidence of contact between the population in north-central Italy and the western Black Sea region during the eight to fifth centuries BCE.

Supervisors: Assoc. Prof. Gijs Tol, Assoc. Prof. Hyun Jin Kim, Dr Lieve Donnellan

William Hoff (PhD candidate, History), 'Becoming Robin Hood: [Re-] Constructing the Myth in the Tudor Century'

The Robin Hood tradition endured three centuries of social and political change to become a major figure in sixteenth-century popular culture. What once was a fugitive footnote in manorial records of the thirteenth century became a leading man, who even welcomed Henry VIII to his own pageants and feasts. Robin as a commoner, an everyman, was central to the universality of the myth, yet this changed in the Tudor century, with Robin reimagined as the noble Earl of Huntington, embodying characteristics which, a generation earlier, he had openly attacked. There is a discontinuity between the two conceptions of Robin Hood which has not been fully explored to date. The project aims to reconstruct the myth of Robin Hood as it stood in the sixteenth century to not only explain a crucial turning point in the myth, but to explore medievalism as a constructivist practice as early as the fifteenth century. This presentation will introduce the core tenets of medievalism as a discipline, and how they will be applied to the case study of Robin Hood, to analyse the way in which the medieval past was evaluated, constructed, and performed in both scholarly and popular culture in the Tudor century.

Supervisors: Dr Matthew Champion, Prof. Stephanie Trigg, Prof. Stephen Knight

Seth McKellar (PhD candidate, History), 'The "Felt Sense" and Being Trans in the 1990s and 2000s in So-called Australia'

This research focuses on a 'felt sense' of transness in so-called Australia at the turn of the last century. I will use the method of semi-structured interviews with trans people to create an oral history that is enriched with archival newspapers, newsletters, and articles. My work seeks to highlight the lived experiences of an underrepresented social group in Australian society, through the lenses of transfeminism and phenomenology, to provide a capacious reimagining of the 1990s and early 2000s. I hope to render trans people as the subjects of their own knowledge, which counters their often pathologised and medicalised historical representation as objects of knowledge.

Supervisors: Prof. Joy Damousi, Dr CQ Quinan

Rosemary Morgan (PhD candidate, Classics & Archaeology) 'Trade in the North African Frontier Zones: The Transformative Potential of Periodic Rural Markets'

Scholarship relating to fairs and markets has typically centred on the highly urbanised and densely populated Italian mainland. The Campanian setting provides valuable literary and epigraphic evidence of synchronised urban market calendar cycles, economic networks and mobility among neighbouring Vesuvian towns, but does little to explain the evolution and sociocultural dynamics fostered by rural periodic markets in far-flung provinces. This investigation acknowledges the north African frontiers as porous constantly shifting spaces, defined by Roman conceptions of space and legal definitions of land usage and ownership. The north African periodic markets are unique. Their remoteness and distinctive topographical settings, irregular schedules and patronage by immigrant and nomadic communities (multi-ethnic, multicultural and highly mobile) are therefore seen to reflect evolving spaces of interaction. The key research question informing this investigation is 'what transformations accompanied the establishment of rural periodic markets in the frontier zones of north Africa?' This question aims to elicit the economic, political, religious and sociocultural functions of markets and how each aspect fostered opportunities for interaction between indigenous and Roman settlers.

Supervisors: Prof. Frederik Vervaet, Assoc. Prof. Gijs Tol

Shannon Peters (PhD candidate, History), 'Democratising the "Temple of Learning": The Intersection Between Progressive Education and Social Activism in Early-Twentieth-Century New York City'

In the early twentieth century, New York City underwent a period of rapid, substantial change, transforming into a dynamic, transnational hub of ideas and reformist movements. As the population became larger, more diverse, and increasingly fragmented, many reformers came to believe education had a particularly vital role to play in ensuring social cohesion. While schooling was used to promote assimilation, Americanisation, and a reaffirmation of existing socioeconomic and racial hierarchies, some reformers espoused a more democratic and inclusive vision, criticising the enduringly exclusionary nature of 'the Temple of Learning'. The growth of progressive education in the United States in this period has generally been attributed to leading intellectuals such as John Dewey and George Counts; however, this emphasis has obscured the significance of the community-driven initiatives instigated by teachers and social workers, whose involvement in activist causes informed their pedagogical approaches. Thus, this study explores the overlooked spaces in which progressive educational initiatives arose, with a specific focus on teachers themselves, especially African American and Anglo-American women, whose contributions have been underemphasised. This research examines the efforts of activist-educators who sought to foster cultural inclusivity and societal transformation in the face of profoundly unequal conditions.

Supervisors: Dr Julia Bowes, Prof. David Goodman

Anna-Elisa Stümpel (PhD candidate, Classics & Archaeology), 'Urbanism and Urban Transformations in the Plain of Gioia Tauro from c. 1000 to 250 BCE'

My thesis research addresses the settlement development and urban transformations in the Plain of Gioia Tauro (PGT), situated in Calabria, within a time frame from around c1000 to 250 BCE. In this context, it critically examines if and in how far Greek migrants and an increased commercial connection to the Aegean World at the end of the Early Iron Age have acted as a catalyst in transformations regarding the urbanisation of settlements and landscape management within the indigenous communities situated in the PGT. This thesis research aims at gaining a new, detailed insight into the process of indigenous urbanisation and landscape management, closely examining the dispersion, continuity, and discontinuity of indigenous settlements. While often investigated unilaterally in the light of Greek 'colonisation', recent efforts in (landscape) archaeological research conducted in the region of Calabria are increasingly trying to move away from this biased viewpoint. By studying the vast archaeological record offered by the indigenous and ‘colonial’ Greek settlements alike within a postcolonial framework, objective insights are gained regarding the general history of ancient Calabria as well as the research area (PGT), the indigenous communities located there, their (material) culture and the (political) relations between them and the Greek settlers.

Supervisors: Dr Lieve Donnellan, Assoc. Prof. Gijs Tol, Dr Jesús García Sánchez

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



Feature image: Presenters at the closing conference for the 2023 History capstone, Making History (HIST30060). L to R: Tristan Bell, Oscar Hales, Georgie Armitage, Molly Salmon, Will Blazey, Lloyd Skinner, Kai Page, Mary Bellman, Jack Smith, Xavier Konynenburg, Megan Barry, Jacob Andrewartha, Levy Perrett, Dean Ming Hao Chong, Harriet Norman, Will Mott, Jisoo Lee, Nicole J, Emily Rayside, Clare Damen, Charlotte Ni Choncheanainn, Isabella Greene, Jasmine Cruikshank, Luke Parnis. Also presenting was Alfie Walker (not pictured).

Number of posts found: 621