Michael Plater

'Jack the Ripper: The Divided Self and the Alien Other in Late-Victorian Culture and Society' (PhD in History & Philosophy of Science, 2019).

This thesis examines late nineteenth-century public and media representations of the infamous 'Jack the Ripper' murders of 1888. Focusing on two of the most popular theories of the day – Jack as exotic 'alien' foreigner and Jack as divided British 'gentleman' – it contends that these representations drew upon a series of emergent social and cultural anxieties in relation to notions of the 'self' and the 'other'. Examining the widespread contention that 'no Englishman' could have committed the crimes, it explores late-Victorian conceptions of Englishness and documents the way in which the Ripper crimes represented a threat to these dominant notions of British identity and masculinity. In doing so, it argues that late-Victorian fears of the external, foreign 'other' ultimately masked deeper anxieties relating to the hidden, unconscious, instinctual self and the 'other within'. Moreover, it reveals how these psychological concerns were connected to emergent social anxieties regarding degeneration, atavism and the 'beast in man'. As such, it evaluates the wider psychological and sociological impact of the case, arguing that the crimes revealed the deep sense of fracture, duality and instability that lay beneath the surface of late-Victorian English life, undermining and challenging dominant notions of progress, civilisation and social advancement. Situating the Ripper narrative within a broader framework of late-nineteenth century cultural uncertainty and crisis, it therefore argues that the crimes (and, more specifically, populist perceptions of these crimes) represented a key defining moment in British history, serving to condense and consolidate a whole series of late-Victorian fears in relation to selfhood and identity.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Sara Wills, Dr James Bradley

Emily Poelina-Hunter

'Cycladic Sculptures Decorated with Abstract Painted Motifs: Representations of Tattooing in the Prehistoric Aegean' (PhD in Classics & Archaeology, 2019).

In historical literature pertaining to Cycladic sculptures, several writers suggest that some of the painted motifs on the surface of these marble sculptures may represent tattoos. This thesis seeks to undertake the first systematic research into answering the question: ‘Did Cycladic islanders practice tattooing and is this reflected in the abstract painted motifs on Cycladic sculptures?’ Comparisons to the painted motifs on Egyptian potency figurines are supporting evidence for the hypothesis that Cycladic islanders were in contact with tattooed people that created figurines with tattoos. An overview of tattooing in ancient and traditional cultures around the globe is presented in order to shed light on the reasons why tattooing is practised and why particular motifs are chosen. Descriptions of the methods employed to create the tattoos in these cultures also present the reader with the ability to recognise comparative tattooing instruments in Cycladic material culture.

Supervisors: Professor Louise Hitchcock, Professor Tony Sagona

Sonia Randhawa

'Writing Women: The Women’s Pages of the Malay-Language Press, 1987–1998' (PhD in History, 2019).

This thesis investigates depictions of Malay-Muslim women in two Malay-language newspapers, contrasting the portrayals on the women’s pages with how women were depicted on the 'malestream' leader and religion pages. The period examined falls between two political storms, the Operasi Lallang (1987) and the Reformasi (1998). Malaysian journalists in the Malay-language press saw themselves as largely free, operating within parameters defined by Asian values and developmental discourse. Writers in the Malay-language press supported the government because they, like many Malaysians, felt the ruling coalition served the nation’s best interest. Yet, below this apparently monolithic surface, editors and journalists vied for resources and prestige. In this contest, I found that the women journalists of the women’s pages often saw themselves as pitted against the malestream editorial hierarchy and marginalised in relation to their colleagues.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Kate McGregor, Associate Professor Amanda Whiting

Henry Reese

'Colonial Soundscapes: A Cultural History of Sound Recording in Australia, 1880–1930' (PhD in History, 2019).

‘Colonial Soundscapes’ is the first cultural history of the early phonograph and gramophone in Australian settler society. Drawing on recent work in sound studies and the history of sound, Henry Reese conceives of the ‘talking machine’ as part of the soundscape of colonial modernity in colonial and Federal Australia. He argues that national environmental/place attachment and modern listening practices developed together, with anthropological thought, popular culture, commercial life, intellectual elite discourse and everyday life all providing key sites for this transformation in Australian listening culture. Archival research was conducted across Australia, the UK and USA. Using an innovative methodology combining cultural history with business and economic history, media history and the history of anthropology, ‘Colonial Soundscapes’ makes a novel contribution to the history of Australian culture and a powerful argument about the importance of sound in any full account of the national past.

Supervisors: Professor David Goodman, Dr Julie Fedor

Read more of Henry's work in the article: Protecting Australian Women from American Jazz

Kate Rivington

'"Our own worst enemy": Southern Anti-Slavery Networks and Rhetoric in Early Republic and Antebellum America' (MA in History, 2019).

This thesis examines Southern-born anti-slavery activists. By analysing one hundred anti-slavery Southerners, this thesis illuminates a deeply interconnected network of anti-slavery that was not just limited to the South, but one that intersected with Northern anti-slavery movements. This thesis examines how an individual’s personal networks shifted as a result of their public anti-slavery stance, as well as the rhetoric of the white Southern testimony to the horrors of slavery, and how these individuals were particularly valuable to wider anti-slavery movements.

Supervisors: Professor David Goodman, Associate Professor Kat Ellinghaus.


Sarah Schmidt

'Boundaries between Individual and Communal Authorship of Aboriginal Art in Context of Clifford Possum's Tjapaltjarri's Art and the Case of R v O'Loughlin (2001) (PhD in Art History and Indigenous Studies, 2019).

This research concerns the oeuvre of Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri in the context of art fraud. Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri was an Anmatyerr man (c1932–2002). His art was the subject of Australia’s first criminal law prosecution for fraud over Aboriginal art: R v John Douglas O’Loughlin (2001) unreported NSWDC, 23 Feb 2001.

The research examines boundaries between individual and communal authorship of Aboriginal art in the context of this case. The case is used to highlight changing boundaries around authorship of Aboriginal art.

Communal art practiced in the Papunya region changed with the birth of the Western Desert art movement. Individual authorship became prominent in attribution. Artists such as Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri became famous in their own right. In 2004, at the National Gallery of Victoria, Clifford Possum was celebrated with the first retrospective of a Papunya Tula artist in an Australian public gallery, an exhibition spanning 30 years of his work.

This research claims that the cultural tensions for individual artists such as Clifford Possum, raised by this change, have been seldom noted and are highlighted especially by art fraud. The boundaries between individual and communal authorship are measured by looking at representation of those boundaries by the artist, his community, museums, the art market, and the law. With the development of contemporary Aboriginal art, I argue that the art market and also public galleries have insufficiently acknowledged the communal basis of traditional Aboriginal art, at least up until the present decade.

Fred Myers’ pivotal text ‘Painting Culture’ (2002) and Vivien Johnson’s art histories on Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri and Western Desert art are central to this project with Myers’ work providing the key intellectual leadership on the topic. I look at recent writing drawn from an Aboriginal perspective, for example by curators Luke Taylor and Hetti Perkins. The work of anthropologists Elizabeth Coleman and Eric Michaels also provides an important topic-specific context on art fraud surrounding Indigenous art in Australia and links concepts of authenticity with critical theory. Literature on authorship, including by Foucault, is consulted although not designed as a key framework for this thesis. The conclusion was that although boundaries around individual and communal authorship of Aboriginal art may have changed, the O’Loughlin case failed to acknowledge the two modes of authorship, and further to this, current Australian law is lacking in protecting Indigenous cultural property and collective authorship around Aboriginal art.

Supervisor: Professor Louise Hitchcock

Emma Shortis

'Saving the Last Continent: Environmentalists, Celebrities and States in the Campaign for a World Park Antarctica, 1978–1991' (PhD in History, 2019).

Between 1978 and 1991, the global environmental movement achieved an unparalleled success: overturning a decision to introduce mining in Antarctica and instead securing a comprehensive environmental protection agreement for the entire continent. This study explains how and why such a tremendous shift in international environmental politics was achieved. The indefinite mining ban and pre-emptive protection of the ‘last continent’ was largely the result of a decade-long campaign for a World Park Antarctica. A small group of environmental activists lobbied key political actors, engaged celebrity, and shaped public opinion. Those activists insisted that Antarctica was too fragile, too precious, and too important to open up to environmentally catastrophic mining. From 1978, the campaign for a World Park Antarctica engaged in direct action protests, conducted a secret campaign at the United Nations, and lobbied the negotiations over an Antarctic minerals regime. They connected this international campaign to local efforts across the world. In Australia, World Park campaigners spent a decade raising awareness and framing the national debate over Antarctica on their own terms. In France, they recruited the world-famous Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau to their cause. By the time the Antarctic Minerals Convention was adopted in 1988, the World Park campaign had laid the groundwork for an effective anti-ratification campaign. World Park activists succeeded in convincing the French, Australian and United States governments to withdraw support for the Minerals Convention and agree to the comprehensive environmental protection of the entire continent. The campaign’s ability to convince these governments to either pursue or acquiesce to environmental protection, and build a new international consensus, is a remarkable success story in the chequered history of global environmentalism and non-state activism more broadly. This thesis sits at the nexus of environmental, international and emotions history, helping to explain how and why emotional mobilisation and social movements work. Through a combination of long term strategy, effective lobbying, celebrity engagement, and emotionally resonant narrative, the World Park campaign succeeded in saving the ‘last continent’ from mining.

Supervisors: Professor Barbara Keys, Dr Alessando Antonello

Eden Smith

'The Structured Uses of Concepts as Tools: Comparing fMRI Experiments that Investigate either Mental Imagery or Hallucinations' (PhD in History & Philosophy of Science, 2019).

Sensations can occur in the absence of perception and yet be experienced ‘as if’ seen, heard, tasted, or otherwise perceived. Two concepts used to investigate types of these sensory-like mental phenomena (SLMP) are mental imagery and hallucinations. Despite attempts to reliably differentiate between instances of mental imagery and hallucinations, each concept is routinely used, independently of the other, in experiments; experiments that generate equivalent findings yet are reported as supporting diverging knowledge-claims. To examine this puzzle, I compare the uses of these two concepts in three ways: examining their roles in differentiating between types of SLMP; exploring how their respective historical developments intersect; and analysing their contributions in neuroimaging experiments. Then, building on multiple themes from historical, philosophical, and social studies of scientific practices, I argue that the concepts of mental imagery and hallucinations function as structured tools that can actively contribute to the knowledge generated by neuroimaging experiments.

Supervisors: Professor Michael Arnold, Dr James Bradley

Kartia Snoek

From 1901 until 1966 federal legislation in Australia discriminated against people considered by legislators and the judiciary to be ‘aboriginal’ to Australia, Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands affecting their social, legal, political and cultural rights. The first of these acts deemed that any Commonwealth contract for the carriage of Australian mail could only be made with companies that employed solely white workers; later acts provided for ‘bounties’ to be paid on goods grown and manufactured by that same workforce. Legislation enacted by the Commonwealth deported thousands of Pacific Island labourers, prevented immigrants considered not to be ‘white’ from entering or immigrating to Australia and denied naturalization certificates to those already resident. Aboriginal people from Australia, and residents considered ‘aboriginal’ to Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands were denied the right to vote and access social welfare. This thesis outlines how these pieces of federal legislation were fundamental to the white Australia policy, working to strengthen and extend the policy beyond immigration and border control to a system of racial privilege and control. It argues that this legislation, alongside government policies, resulted in a tiered system of citizenship under which those considered ‘white’ and male could gain access to all social and legal privileges, while Australian Aboriginal people and those born in, or considered ‘aboriginal’ to Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands, and sometimes also New Zealand could not. This thesis examines how federal legislation specifically (as opposed to state legislation) created these tiers of citizenship, through legislation privileging the white, male worker, legislation deporting Pacific Island labourers, legislation and policies preventing people from Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands from migrating to and settling in Australia and legislation which curbed access to social, political and economic rights for people considered ‘aboriginal’ to Australia, Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands, and sometimes also New Zealand. It also explores the gradual dismantling of Australia’s tiered system of citizenship and how Aboriginal Australians and residents from Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands responded to, and were slowly able to climb the citizenship ladder.
Supervisors: Associate Professor Sara Wills, Dr Graham Willett

Chad Stevenson

'Playing the Hand You're Dealt: Well-being and the Poker-Hand Account' (MA in Philosophy, 2018).

This thesis advances a novel theory of wellbeing called the poker-hand account. On this account, welfare is not one-dimensional (as is traditionally supposed) but two-dimensional. This bipartite model of welfare draws a distinction between how a person is ‘going’ (what states-of-affairs obtain, regardless of whether they are the result of the agent’s actions or external factors), and how that same person is ‘doing’ (regardless of what states-of-affairs obtain, the person is responding to and actively making the best of their circumstances). Besides being the most plausible refinement of the two-dimensional nature of wellbeing, the poker-hand account also provides the resources to address several disputes concerning the good life. First, the poker-hand account explains why people do not share any widespread intuition with regards to experience-machine thought experiments. Second, the poker-hand account generates an error theory that resolves several problems arising due to the shape of a life phenomenon. And third, the poker-hand account provides a fresh means of constructing an objective-list theory that is resistant to two fundamental problems levelled at this category of theories. In short, the aim of this thesis is to show how the poker-hand account is both a robust and highly plausible theory of welfare.

Supervisors: Dr Daniel Halliday, Associate Professor Karen Jones

Number of posts found: 621