This morning, a bunch of University of Sydney History Undergrad students huddled out the front of Granville Boys and Miller Tech. high schools in western Sydney. We had braved the cold morning trip from the city, coffee in tow, in order to assist the year 11 students with their major projects for ancient history.

I led the group at Granville Boys high with the help of Lachlan Anderson, our GBHS volunteer leader. Upon meeting up with the students in their ancient history classroom, they did not look happy to be at school. Ramadan has just finished, and many of their peers were at home feasting and celebrating. The glum faces of the boys showed us they'd rather be celebrating than working on history projects. Eventually though, we got them talking. The students were excited to share their ideas with the mentors. Though they did need a bit of encouragement at first though, to feel confident in opening up about their thoughts and work. Subjects ranged from the Terracotta warriors to the Vikings, and by the first hour in, most students seemed to be confidently researching away and talking openly with their mentor.

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One thing I've noticed through working with the students of GHBS and Miller over the past two years is that while there is an initial lack of confidence from the students of their academic ideas, once they feel interested and comfortable with their mentor the brightness of their ideas lights up the classroom, library or campus they're working in.

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After two hours of working, us mentors were lucky enough to be given a guided tour of Granville Boys High school! And what a fantastic school it is. With beautiful outdoor murals, fantastic hospitality facilities, and plenty of room to run around. The school treated the volunteers to a celebratory morning tea for the end of ramadan, as well as lunch.

Many of the mentors reflected that visiting GBHS was a fantastic cultural education for them to experience life in Granville Boys High, as it is a very diverse place with a predominant religious make up of Islamic students. For example, one class had only 1 out of 22 students present due to everyone being at home celebrating the end of ramadan!

Mike Mcdonnell took another group of volunteers out to Miller Technology high school on this day as well.
We look forward to welcoming both groups of students back to our side of the city for our next campus day on June 28.

Last Friday the social inclusion program welcomed a record number of year 11 students from Western Sydney high schools to the university campus for the year 11 mentoring program. Approx 50 students and 25 volunteers. This was the introductory session for the 2019 program. It started off with a volunteer induction session and then the acknowledgement of Country. The running of the day was greatly aided by the work of our two volunteer leaders, undergraduate students Jakson and Lachlan. They managed the volunteers in two groups; one group paired with Miller high students and one group paired with Granville Boys High School students.

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The morning acted as a get to know you session. The school students got to learn a bit about their university mentor and vice versa (though it was definitely the school students who had the more interesting stories, with a high percentage of the students telling stories of unconventional migration to Australia and learning English only in the recent years!). Following, the mentors led a campus tour and showed the students various attractions that interested their particular group. The graffiti tunnel proved to be a big hit, a long with any cafe at which one could purchase a hot chocolate.
Lunch occurred upon returning, and an exploration of some of the older rooms in the quad building. Many of the boys didn't eat, as there is a large Muslim proportion at Granville Boys and we are currently in Ramadan. Instead, they went and took part in the mid-day prayer that occurs every day on campus in the prayer room inside the Old Teacher's College.

In the afternoon, the students knuckled down and spoke with their mentors about the specifics of their research topic and how they would go about starting the project.

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We closed with an address by Mike Mcdonnell about the merits of university and the opportunities which blossom through higher education.

By the time the students had to return to school, their minds had been crammed with a lot more than advice about their research project.

The next mentoring session with this group will take place in around a month.

Last Tuesday, Bridget Neave, Project Manager of the social inclusion program, visited one of our partner schools. Granville Boys High was having a presentation day to celebrate the end of the semester for their Project Based Learning. The year seven classes had worked on preparing responses to the statement "How do the dead speak to us?". They addressed the idea through music, painting, poetry, english and with a historical lens. It was wonderful to see the work that the students had come up with following their visit to the University of Sydney two months prior. Where they explored the Nicholson Museum, and took part in a hands on workshop where they drew archeological artefacts from ancient Egyptian and Grecian times.


Year seven students performing "Seven years old" by lucas graham.


Artistic construction of an Ancient Egyptian mummy.

Semester One

Time: 12.10-1.30 pm

Place: Woolley Common Room, Woolley Building A22 (Enter Woolley through the entrance on Science Road and climb the stairs in front of you. Turn left down the corridor, and the WCR is the door at the end of the hall)
Click here for map


Professorial Board Room, Main Quadrangle (Enter the vestibule near the Nicholson Museum. Take the stairs and turn left at the top.)
Click here for map

Michael A. McDonnell

Semester 1 2019

Week 3 – Mar 13 – Professorial Board Room

Marilyn Lake, University of Melbourne, “From MUP to HUP: The Re-Shaping of Progressive New World”

Abstract: In January this year Harvard University Press published my book Progressive New World: How Settler Colonialism and TransPacific Exchange Shaped American Reform. In presenting the argument of the book, I shall also talk about the ways in which negotiations with different publishers – in Australia, the UK and US – shaped conceptual transformations in the thematic orientation and theoretical framework of this transnational transPacific book. It became in the end, I hope, a more interesting book and a work of American history. ‘Progressive New World’, I write in the Introduction, ‘offers a new history of progressivism as a transpacific project shaped by Australasian example and the shared experience and racialized order of settler colonialism’. It is a book about postcolonial sensibilities and the subjective politics of race.

Bio: Professor Marilyn Lake grew up in Tasmania, where she completed her undergraduate and Master's degrees in History. She moved to Melbourne in 1976 and enrolled in a PhD degree in History at Monash University. During that time she gave birth to two daughters, Kath and Jess. She subsequently held academic positions at Monash University, The University of Melbourne and La Trobe University, where she also served as Associate Dean Research and was appointed Charles LaTrobe Professor in History in 2010. Professor Lake held Visiting Professorial Fellowships at Stockholm University, ANU, the University of Sydney, the University of Western Australia and the University of Maryland. Between 2001 and 2002 she held the Chair in Australian Studies at Harvard University. In the last ten years she has mainly been in research positions supported by two ARC Australian Professorial Fellowships. Professor Lake was elected Fellow of the Academy of Humanities of Australia in 1995; and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia in 1999. She has also served as President of the Australian Historical Association. Author of numerous books and articles, Professor Lake has won many prizes, including: The Limits of Hope: Soldier Settlement in Victoria 1915-38 won the Harbison-Higinbotham prize and was short-listed for the Age Book of the Year in 1987; FAITH: Faith Bandler Gentle Activist won the HREOC award for non-fiction in 2002; Creating a Nation which Marilyn wrote with Patricia Grimshaw, Ann McGrath and Marian Quartly also won the HREOC prize for non-fiction and was shortlisted for the Adelaide Writers' Festival Prize; Drawing the Global Colour Line which she co-authored with Henry Reynolds won the Ernest Scott prize, the Queensland Premier's Prize for History and the Prime Minister's Prize for Non-Fiction in 2009.

Week 5 – Mar 27 – MECO Seminar Room S226

Niccolò Pianciola, Lingnan University, Hong Kong, "The Aral Sea Fisheries and the Environmental History of Settler Colonialism in Central Asia, 1873-1917"

Abstract: The presentation addresses the managing of Aral Sea fisheries by the Tsarist administration, and the making of a colonial frontier inhabited by exiled Ural Cossack, Qaraqalpaq, Qazaq, Russian, and Ukrainian fishermen. By comparing the different power relations between Cossacks and the local population on the Ural River and in the Aral Sea region, it shows how they shaped fisheries management regulations and their effectiveness. It also investigates the conditions of production of scientific knowledge on the Aral Sea ecosystem and what role it played in governance decision-making. By drafting a series of fishing regulations and by examining the balance between humans and aquatic animals, scientists oriented the Tsarist government’s decisions on how to manage both the fisheries and the populations that exploited them.

Bio: Niccolò Pianciola is Associate Professor of History at Lingnan University, Hong Kong. His research focuses on the social and environmental history of Tsarist and Soviet Asia. His first book focused on the relations between immigrant Slavic peasants in Central Asia, local pastoralists (Kazakhs and Kyrgyz) and the state from the late Tsarist Empire to Stalinism. The resulting monograph, Stalinismo di frontiera. Colonizzazione agricola, sterminio dei nomadi e costruzione statale in Asia Centrale (1905-1936), investigates the historical background of the great famine in Kazakhstan in 1931-33, one of the worst man-made catastrophes of the twentieth century. After dealing with peasant immigration in the Kazakh steppe during late Tsarism,the revolt of 1916 in Central Asia, early Soviet decolonization policies, and Stalinist “revolution from above”, it highlights the causes and patterns of development of the famine. The book is based on extensive research in provincial, republican and central archives in Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and outlines the ambiguous policies of neocolonization and decolonization of the early Soviet state in Central Asia. Dr. Pianciola also studied the policies of forced population transfers during periods of war, revolution and competitive state-building in the twentieth century. He recently published a co-authored book on the topic covering East-Central Europe, the Balkans, Anatolia, the Caucasus and Soviet Asia (1850s-1950s), with A. Ferrara, entitled, L’età delle migrazioni forzate. Esodi e deportazioni in Europa (1853-1953) [The Age of Forced Migrations.] Bologna: Il Mulino, 2012,

Week 8 – Apr 17 – Woolley Common Room

Sophie Chao, University of Sydney, “Eating and Being Eaten”: Gastro-Politics in a West Papuan Village

Abstract: This paper explores the cultural meanings of hunger and satiety among indigenous Marind in the Indonesian-controlled region of West Papua. I begin by describing the nourishing qualities attributed by Marind to sago and other forest-derived foods in light of their associations with place-making, multispecies sociality, and collective memory. I then investigate how agro-industrial expansion and commodified foodways provoke conflicting forms of hunger among Marind – hunger for sago, ‘plastic' foods, money, and the flesh of other humans. At the same time, Marind see themselves as subjected to the hunger of threatening ‘others’: corporations, roads, cities, and monocrop oil palm. Finally, I examine how villagers interpret the prevalence of hunger in light of indigenous spiritual beliefs, the political history of West Papua, Catholic notions of martyrdom, and the association of hunger with a ‘modern’ way of life. The paper invites attention to hunger and satiety as culturally constructed, politically situated, and morally charged categories of experience, whose significance may draw from yet also transcend, biophysical conceptions of hunger defined in terms of nutritional deficiency and food deprivation. In particular, I suggest that Marinds’ ambivalent self-positioning as both the ‘eaters’ and the ‘eaten’ constitutes a perceptive, if troubling, critique, of capitalism in both its attributes and effects.

Bio: Sophie Chao joined the History Department at the University of Sydney in March 2019. Dr. Chao received her PhD in Social Anthropology from Macquarie University in February 2019. She holds a BA in Oriental Studies and a Masters in Anthropology from Oxford University. Her doctoral thesis, which received a Vice-Chancellor's Commendation, was based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Indonesian West Papua, where she investigated the socio-environmental impacts of monocrop oil palm plantations among indigenous forest-dwelling communities. Prior to her doctoral studies, Dr. Chao undertook extensive research on human rights and agribusiness in Southeast Asia as a member of international Indigenous rights organization Forest Peoples Programme. Her postdoctoral project will weave together social science methods (including history), science and technology studies, and biomedicine to examine the nutritional and health impacts of agribusiness on humans and their environments across the tropical belt. Dr. Chao is also interested in research development more generally and looks forward to engaging in inter-disciplinary collaboration of the Department of History and FASS (more generally) with the Charles Perkins Centre.

Week 10 – May 8 – Professorial Board Room

Scott Relyea, Appalachian State University, “Lamas, Empresses, and Tea: Sharing imperial models in early twentieth-century Tibet”

Abstract: As the twentieth century opened, the Tibetan plateau was a zone of intense imperial contact – and competition – between British India and Qing China. Indian rupees had become the primary currency of commercial exchange across the plateau, and British explorers had gathered detailed knowledge of both the presumed natural resource bounty of eastern Tibet and the lucrative border tea trade traversing it. Although Sichuan Province officials engaged with administering the Kham region of eastern Tibet shared a common perception of Khampa society with their British counterparts, they also recognised the encroachment of Indian rupees, British explorers, and ambitious railway plans as potential challenges to Qing authority, if not a prologue to territorial expansion paralleling the contemporaneous scramble for concessions in coastal China. This presentation will explore the mutual exchange of imperial models fostered by the interaction between British and Sichuanese officials, merchants, and explorers in this region, and its influence on transformative policies in Qing China’s southwest borderlands.

Bio: Dr. Scott Relyea is currently a Fulbright U.S. Scholar and senior visiting scholar in the School of History and Culture at Sichuan University in Chengdu, PRC. An Assistant professor of Asian history at Appalachian State University in Boon, N.C., USA, He is in the midst of a two-year research visit to China, funded by a Fulbright grant and a Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowship in China Studies. A historian of late imperial and modern China, Dr. Relyea’s research centres on state-building and nationalism in the southwest borderlands of China and the global circulation of concepts of statecraft and international law in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In addition to his current research, Dr. Relyea is working on converting his dissertation into a book, tentatively titled Gazing at the Tibetan Plateau: China’s Infrontier and the Early Twentieth Century Evolution of Sino-Tibetan Relations. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and Master’s degrees from the School of Oriental and African Studies and the George Washington University.

Week 12 – May 22 – Woolley Common Room

Debbie Doroshow, Yale University, “A New Kind of Child: Residential Treatment and the Creation of Emotional Disturbance in Twentieth Century America.”

Abstract: Before the 1940s, children with severe emotional difficulties would have had few options. If they could not be cared for in the community at a child guidance clinic, they might have been placed in a state mental hospital or asylum, an institution for the so-called “feebleminded,” or a training school for delinquent children. But starting in the 1930s and 1940s, more specialized institutions began to open all over the country with the goal of treating these children. Staff members at residential treatment centers (RTCs) shared a commitment to helping children who couldn’t be managed at home. They adopted an integrated approach to treatment, employing talk therapy, schooling, and other activities in the context of a therapeutic environment. In the process, they made visible a new kind of person: the emotionally disturbed child. This is a story about Americans struggling to be normal at a time when being different was dangerous. At RTCs, treating emotional disturbance and building normal children and normal families were inextricably intertwined. Though normality remained a distant, if unreachable goal for most children in residential treatment, RTC professionals grounded their therapeutic approach within this ideal. The emergence of RTCs to build normal children and the emergence of emotionally disturbed children as a new patient population were thus fundamentally intertwined.

Bio: Deborah Doroshow began her studies in the history of medicine at Harvard, where she earned an A.B. in the history of science. She graduated from Harvard Medical School and received a Ph.D. in the history of medicine from Yale. Her work on the history of psychiatry and the history of children's health has appeared in the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Isis, and the Bulletin of the History of Medicine. Her book, Emotionally Disturbed: Caring For America's Troubled Children, was published by the University of Chicago Press in April 2019. She is currently completing her fellowship in adult hematology and oncology at the Yale University School of Medicine, where she frequently lectures and teaches medical students and undergraduates about both oncology and the history of medicine. In August 2019, she will be Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

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Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the Department of History in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences was able to award almost $100,000 in Undergraduate Equity Scholarships to study History at the University of Sydney.

Established in 2015, this Scholarship provides assistance to enrolling and current undergraduate students who are majoring in History. The award is worth $5000 per year. Current students can apply for up to one year of funding, while recent school leavers who enrol in a BA or BA Advanced degree majoring in History can receive from 3 to 4 years of funding.

This year we were able to award 3 or 4 year scholarships to four new students, and three year-long scholarships to current students.

The successful applicants all performed extremely well in their HSC courses or current University courses, submitted strong statements of interest, and come from unique and diverse backgrounds – exactly the kind of students the Department, and University, needs. In interviews with the selection panel, all of the students impressed by speaking about their passion for studying History and what they saw as the relevance of their History degree in understanding modern society, culture and politics.

In some cases having overcome very serious obstacles to get to University, most of the applicants also spoke about how they wanted to use their University studies to not just learn more about the world in which they lived, but also to help try and change society and make it easier for others to learn and to follow their passions. Most of the students also spoke of the influence of particular teachers on their studies and their motivation to go to University.

Recipients included three students from the Sydney area, including one Indigenous student, and four students from rural/regional NSW. The Department was particularly pleased to note that two of the successful applicants had participated in the Department of History and Department of Classics and Ancient History Social Inclusion program with Chifley College Senior Campus in Mount Druitt, and had previously won special Year 11 University History Awards. For more information about the program, see:

Many congratulations again to all the award winners. We are very much looking forward to having them in our classes in the coming years.

For more information about the Scholarship, please see:

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The Laureate Research Program in International History welcomes its latest Postdocs: Dr. Ben Huf, who graduated with his PhD from the ANU this year, and works on Imperial and Economic History; and Emma Kluge will join us as a JRF, working with us on a Geneva collaboration looking at the significance of 1919 and the creation of the League of Nations in Australia. Emma is a PhD student in the Department of History, working on the History of West Papua.

The Laureate Research Program in International History has been awarded a Partnership Collaboration working with SEI at Usyd, and colleagues at Utrecht University’s Strategic Programmes ‘Pathways to Sustainability’ and ‘Institutions for Open Societies’. Utrecht will visit Sydney in April 2019, to continue to discuss collaborations focused on the concept of ‘Planetary Thinking’ which is currently being developed at the Laureate program under the leadership of Dr. Sabine Selchow.

The Laureate Program in International History is a partner in a successful German Cluster of Excellence bid, “Contestations of the Liberal Script" (SCRIPTS) based at the Berlin Centre for European Studies at the Free University Berlin, and the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre.

Harvard PhD student Ben Goossen was a visitor at the Laureate Research Program in International History and presented a paper on his doctoral thesis on The Year of the Earth (1957-1958).

In 2018, Laureate Research Program in International JRF Alumna Dr Catherine Bishop won an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) to work on the history of small businesswomen in Australia, which she will take up at Macquarie university’s School of Management.

In December, Professor Glenda Sluga co-convened the inaugural MENTOR workshop with the Director, Culture Strategy at The University of Sydney. The workshop, which was co-organised by Hollie Pich and Marama Whyte, offered women and gender diverse ECRs in the humanities and social sciences concrete advice on how best to forge a career in academia. MENTOR ran from December 5 - 7, and was attended by a group of ECRs selected from The University of Sydney and universities around Australia. For full details, see

Prof Glenda Sluga with Prof Madeleine Herren from Basel University published an op-ed in the Washington Post, The Trump administration deals another blow to international cooperation—

In December, Glenda Sluga working with JRF Emma Kluge , and Laureate Research Program in International History Alumnus, Aden Knapp (now at Harvard studying for his PhD), worked with the HistoryLab Podcast to produce an episode marking the forthcoming centenary of the origins of the League of Nations. The podcast ‘Skeletons of Empire’ can be listened to here:

In December Glenda Sluga, Anne Rees (a former Laureate JRF, now at La Trobe) and Ben Huf organised and co-hosted a inter-disciplinary workshop, Capitalism in Australia: New Histories for a Re-imagined Future in Melbourne, November 2018. Hosted by La Trobe University, in conjunction with the University of Sydney, the workshop congregated some of the country's leading social scientists and historians to discuss how Australian historians might more actively research and respond to our present moment of economic transformation. The follow up to this event will be the launching of an annual Economic History Winterschool in 2019. The first will be at Usyd, in July next year, working with LaTrobe and ANU. Stay tuned.

In November, Professor Glenda Sluga also presented keynotes at the University of Göttingen and University of Ljubljana on Human Rights in the Shaping of International Orders, 1814-1974.

Finally, Laureate Postdoc Dr. Ben Huf has won with Dr. Anne Rees an ASSA award to host a follow up workshop next year as well.

Assoc. Prof. Frances Clarke and her collaborator Assoc Prof. Rebecca Jo Plant (University of California, San Diego) received the Carol Gold Prize for the best article published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2018 by an academic at mid-career or above level, given out by the American Historical Association’s Coordinating Council of Women Historians.

Many congratulations to Senior Lecturer Thomas Adams, who will be spending November 2018-July 2019 as a fellow at the International Research Center for Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History at Humboldt University, Berlin.

Many congratulations to Miranda Johnson, whose book This Land is Our History, was shortlisted for the W.K. Hancock Prize, given out by the Australian Historical Association. The biennial W.K. Hancock Prize recognises and encourages an Australian scholar who has recently published a first scholarly book in any field of history. The W.K. Hancock Prize was instituted in 1987 by the Australian Historical Association, to honour the contribution to the study and writing of history in Australia by Sir Keith Hancock. Since his death in 1988, it has served to commemorate his life and achievements.

Many congratulations to Dr. Sarah Claire Dunstan on her two year postdoctoral Fellowship with the Leverhulme Trust. She will be working at the University of Sussex in the UK.

In May, Sydney University History Department Alumna Dr. Lizzie Ingleson has won one of ten early career researchers Travelling Fellowships for 2018, awarded by the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

Many congratulations to current PhD student, Darren Smith, for winning the prestigious Hakluyt Society Essay Prize competition, for his essay: 'Ex Typographia Savariana: Franco-Ottoman relations and the first oriental printing press in Paris'.

The Laureate Research Program in International History at the University of Sydney is pleased to note the following good news: Beatrice Wayne, postdoctoral fellow in the Laureate program, has won a three year lectureship at Harvard in the Literature and History program; Marigold Black, recent History PhD, and JRF in the Laureate Research Program in International History, has won a three-year research fellowship at ANU working with the Australian Defence Forces on Strategic Issues; and Glenda Sluga was a successful co-applicant in a European Research Council funded project with Stockholm Royal Institute of Technology on the Rise of Global Environmental Governance.

History at the University of Sydney was recently ranked 26th in the world (and 2nd in Australia after ANU) by the QS World University Rankings by subject, sharing a 5 star rating with the top twenty history departments.

Congratulations to recent PhD student Sarah Bendall who was awarded a Bodleian Library Visiting Research Fellowship at Oxford University. as well as a Folger Shakespeare Library Fellowship.

Many congrats to recent Sydney University History Department PhD recipient Liz Ingleson on earning a prestigious and highly competitive two-year postdoc fellowship at Southern Methodist University's Center for Presidential History. Many congrats and warm wishes for the coming year or two.

Congratulations to Ben Silverstein, winner of the History Australia and Taylor & Francis best article for 2017. You can read Ben's article online now: ‘Possibly they did not know themselves’: the ambivalent government of sex and work in the Northern Territory Aboriginals Ordinance 1918

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Senior Lecturer Thomas Adams, along with Matt Sakakeeny, are pleased to note that their edited collection, Remaking New Orleans: Beyond Exceptionalism and Authenticity will be available from Duke University Press in early 2019.

Professor Michael A. McDonnell, along with Associate Professor Kate Fullagar at Macquarie University, published a new edited collection in November with Johns Hopkins University Press, entitled Facing Empire: Indigenous Experiences in a Revolutionary Age. A blog about the book appeared late last year at the Age of Revolutions blogsite:

"Expansive," "deft," "lively," "cogent and powerful," and "essential reading" - just some of the praise for Miranda Johnson's book, This Land is Our History: Indigeneity, Law, and the Settler State, in a new review for H-Environment.

Congratulations to recent PhD recipient Billy Griffiths on the publication of Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia, which investigates a twin revolution: the reassertion of Aboriginal identity in the second half of the twentieth century, and the uncovering of the traces of ancient Australia. The book explores what it means to live in a place of great antiquity, with its complex questions of ownership and belonging. Billy will launch his book in Sydney at a special event at Gleebooks on Thursday 15 March 2018, 6:30 pm: "In conversation: Billy Griffiths discusses his book Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia with Professor Iain McCalman" For further information and tickets, click here.

A "dazzling work of microhistory." Professor Chris Hilliard's latest book The Littlehampton Libels is reviewed in the London Review of Books.

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Many congratulations to our most recent recipient of a Faculty Teaching Excellence Awards - Andres Rodriguez. The award was presented by the Dean Annemarie Jagose at a ceremony on October 31, 2018 at MacLaurin Hall at the University of Sydney, along with other recipients from across the Faculty.

Dr. Rodriguez received a Teaching Excellence Award primarily for his outstanding work in developing a suite of new Chinese History units, and also his sensitive and thoughtful approach to teaching the modern history of China.

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching Excellence Awards program is designed to recognize and reward the teaching excellence of staff at all career levels, to encourage teachers to engage in reflective teaching practices, and to promote and support the development of high quality and innovative teaching.

Recipients have demonstrated an evidence informed approach to critical reflection on teaching and learning, evaluation of their teaching practice, engagement with higher educational research, and a focus on improving student learning.

One of Dr. Rodriguez's nominees wrote: "I am delighted to have the opportunity to write this statement in support of Andres Rodriguez’s nomination for a FASS teaching award. Andres’ reputation as a teacher of extraordinary talent, energy and generosity has been firmly established during the years he has been employed at this university....Andres has remarkably high student satisfaction ratings in his units on Chinese history – a success that has contributed significantly to improved enrolments and retention of students in this field....many colleagues have noted just how generous, helpful, supportive and creative Andres proved to be as a colleague and co-teacher. He is always happy to talk about teaching, and more than generous in sharing insights and resources with both junior and more senior colleagues. Thoughtful, diligent, inventive, caring, lively, and manifestly dedicated to the interests of his students, he is a teacher to celebrate and reward."

Dr. Rodriguez was also asked to make a short speech about his teaching to the gathering:

"I am a specialist in modern China who has had the privilege of leading hundreds of students on their journey to make sense of a very complicated history of China in the twentieth century.

At Sydney Uni I have students from all sorts of backgrounds, many of them eager to break out of their Eurocentric shell and ready to understand the world from a very different perspective.

I should also note that many of my students are Chinese, who openly tell me that they are curious to see how Western societies see China and how their history is taught in a place like Australia.

This rich diverse student body makes each semester a unique learning experience for all of us in the classroom.

Chinese students with personal ties to the region might share unique memories of family histories that are aligned with the broader themes we discuss in class. Students from other disciplines such as archaeology or classics also bring their own particular understandings of what comprises ‘evidence’ to classroom discussions.

How does one go about in bringing these experiences into the classroom? And how can we create the space for those who are not inclined to speak in class or perhaps lack the confidence as non-native speakers of English? After all, there is no effective student learning if we cannot hear the voice of the student.

I took it upon myself to find a way that would allow students to express what was going on in their minds as they began to prepare for our weekly tutorial. As I am sure many of you here will agree with, sometimes we can obtain results with simple yet meaningful changes in our teaching. This meant reconceptualizing the tutorial as a meeting that begins when students sit down to read and prepare for each weekly session rather than when the clock in the classroom says so. Together with Bec Plumbe we designed a simple platform allowing students to submit any meaningful thoughts, reflections, or comments on what they had encountered in their readings.

The response was overwhelming – intellectual curiosity had been unleashed as students sent me new sources they had found after a particular theme caught their attention

Chinese students ventured into their own wartime family histories or drew upon their own cultural backgrounds which I would then address in class and ask if they were willing to elaborate on for their classmates.

I too would highlight comments in class that I found particularly meaningful, each of these were helpful in drawing out what we would discuss as a class each week.

Creating a space for students that allows them to listen to their voice, and to each other’s voices is a meaningful way to help them understand how they relate to the world, and to learn about who they are. You will no doubt recognise in these words the trappings of cultural competence, a key skill that helps students to acknowledge and respect the rich diversity of our world.

In these days of anger that shake the world at so many levels, I hope my contribution to the learning experience of my students will help dispel the clouds of hatred and racism that are now gathering over our horizons.

Dr Andres Rodriguez
Lecturer in Modern Chinese History
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry
The University of Sydney

China Book Review Editor for Asian Studies Review

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The Department of History is pleased to announce the following promotions in 2018. Many congratulations to all - this is well-deserved recognition for the remarkable teaching, research, and service contributions made by each.

Dr. Frances Clarke was promoted to Associate Professor

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Dr. Hélène Sirantoine was promoted to Senior Lecturer


Dr. Peter Hobbins was promoted to Senior Lecturer


Dr. Thomas Adams was promoted to Senior Lecturer

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Dear Colleagues

Please join me in congratulating the following Department of History postgraduates who have all had their Phd and MA theses passed in 2018. This is a wonderful achievement.

Sarah A. Bendall, ''Bodies of Whalebone, Wood, Metal, and Cloth: Shaping Femininity in England, 1560-1690' (PhD)

Michaela Cameron, Stealing the Turtle's Voice: A Dual History of Western and Algonquian-Iroquoian Soundways from Creation to Re-creation (PhD)

Sarah Dunstan, ‘A Tale of Two Republics: Race, Rights, and Revolution, 1919-1963’ (PhD)

Rollo Hesketh, ‘In Search of a National Idea’: Australian Intellectuals and the ‘Cultural Cringe’ 1940-1972 (PhD)

Rosemary Hordern Collerson
, ‘The Penitential Psalms as a Focus Foint for Lay Piety in Late Medieval England’ (MA)

Kim Kemmis, 'Marie Collier: A life' (PhD)

Georgia Lawrence-Doyle, ‘Unmasking Italy’s Past: Filming Modern Italy through la commedia all’italiana,’ (PhD)

Tiger Zhifu Li, ‘Dancing with the Dragon: Australia's Diplomatic Relations with China (1901-1949)’ (MA)

Qingjun Liu
, ‘Reinterpreting the Sino-Japanese War: The Jin-Sui Border Region in North China, 1939-1940’ (PhD)

Christian McSweeney-Novak
, From Dayton to Allied Force: A Diplomatic History of the 1998-99 Kosovo Crisis (MA)

Adrienne Tuart, ‘Discrimination and Desire: Italians, Cinema and Culture in Postwar Sydney’ (MA)

Benjamin Vine, ‘For the Peace of the Town: Boston Politics during the American Revolution, 1776-1787’ (PhD)

Kind Regards,

Department of History, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI)
841, Brennan MacCallum | The University of Sydney | NSW | 2006

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Professor Glenda Sluga co-convened the inaugural MENTOR workshop with the Director, Culture Strategy at The University of Sydney. The very successful workshop, which was co-organised by Hollie Pich and Marama Whyte, offered women and gender diverse ECRs in the humanities and social sciences concrete advice on how best to forge a career in academia. MENTOR ran from December 5 - 7, and was attended by a group of ECRs selected from The University of Sydney and universities around Australia.

MENTOR Workshop Program

Wednesday December 5, 2018
Welcome Lunch and Registration

Workshop Opening
Associate Professor Jennifer Barrett, University of Sydney

Plenary Panel: Career Planning
Professor Barbara Caine, University of Sydney
Professor Glenda Sluga, University of Sydney
Associate Professor Jennifer Barrett, University of Sydney

Afternoon tea

Roundtable: Work/Life Balance
Dr. Anne Rees, La Trobe University
Associate Professor Clare Corbould, Deakin University
Associate Professor Sarah Gleeson-White, University of Sydney

Welcome Drinks at the Western Tower Balcony
SOPHI Research Quadrangle, K6.07, The Quadrangle
The University of Sydney

Thursday December 6, 2018
Light breakfast

Practical Session: CVs and Cover Letters
Dr. Anne Rees, La Trobe University
Dr. Gorana Grgic, United States Studies Centre
Dr. Rebecca Sheehan, Macquarie University

Morning tea

Practical Session: Job Applications and Interviews
Associate Professor Clare Corbould, Deakin University
Professor Janette Bobis, University of Sydney
Professor Lisa Adkins, University of Sydney


Practical Session: Postdoctoral Positions
Dr. Alana Piper, University of Technology Sydney
Dr. Anne Rees, La Trobe University
Professor Glenda Sluga, University of Sydney

Afternoon tea

Roundtable: Media Engagement
Dr. Alana Piper, University of Technology Sydney
Jennifer Peterson-Ward, University of Sydney
Dr. Kiera Lindsey, University of Technology Sydney

Conference Dinner at The Terrace, Sancta Sophia College
8 Missenden Road
Camperdown NSW 2050

Friday December 7, 2018
Light breakfast

Roundtable: Beyond the Academy
Dr. Gorana Grgic, United States Studies Centre
Dr. Kate Evans, ABC Radio National
Associate Professor Susan Goodwin, University of Sydney

Morning tea

Practical Session: Grant Applications
Professor Glenda Sluga, University of Sydney
Associate Professor Julia Kindt, University of Sydney
Dr. Kiera Lindsey, University of Technology Sydney


Practical Session: Teaching
Professor Janette Bobis, University of Sydney
Dr. Kiera Lindsey, University of Technology Sydney
Associate Professor Sarah Gleeson-White, University of Sydney

Afternoon tea

Roundtable: Building Relationships
Associate Professor Clare Monagle, Macquarie University
Professor Glenda Sluga, University of Sydney
Dr. Lucia Sorbera, University of Sydney

Workshop Close
Professor Glenda Sluga, University of Sydney


November 2018

Associate Professor Frances Clarke gave radio interviews on November 4, 2018 on ABC’s Nightlife on American feminist icon Susan B. Anthony, and on November 20, 2019 on 2SER’s breakfast show on the myths surrounding Thanksgiving.

Senior Lecturer Thomas Adams wrote an essay on birthright citizenship for the ABC.

October 2018

PhD student Pamela Maddock wrote an essay on gender segregation in Australian schools for ABC Religion and Ethics

Dr. David Brophy wrote an opinion piece on the Ramsay Centre controversy that was published in the New York Times

September 2018

Senior Lecturer Thomas Adams contributed an essay on judicial politics in the midst of the Kavanaugh controversy to the ABC.

PhD Student Marama Whyte published an op-ed in the Washington Post, entitled: "The media’s #MeToo problems will continue until its culture changes."

August 2018

Professor Dirk Moses wrote a piece entitled: "Nazism, Socialism, and the Falsification of History in ABC Religion and Ethics

June 2018

Professor Penny Russell reviewed two new books focused on early Aboriginal-European relations in the Sydney region in the Sydney Morning Herald: The Sydney Wars by Stephen Gapps, The Quiet Invasion by Tim Ailwood.

Several Sydney Uni historians weighed in to the controversy surrounding the Ramsay Centre's plan for a new Western Civilization degree. These included responses by Dirk Moses in the Sydney Morning Herald and in the ABC's Ethics and Religion, and Warwick Anderson in the Sydney Morning Herald. Many joined a petition denouncing the Ramsay Centre's overtures to Sydney University, reported on in the Guardian.

Historians also responded to related criticism of the History Curriculum at the University by the IPA's Bella d'Abrera, including Chris Hilliard in the ABC's Religion and Ethics, and one of James Dunk's students - Hamish Wood - in his Imperialism course, who wrote in Overland. about his experiences.

May 2018

Clean out our own home before we cast aspersions on others, wrote recent PhD recipient Dr. Lizzie Ingleson,in an essay on political donations and foreign influence in the ABC.

Sky News interviewed Professor James Curran from the United States Studies Centre and the Department of History about current politics in North Korea and the US. also quoted Professor Curran about payments made by US President Donald Trump to Stormy Daniels. The article was syndicated across News Corp Australia online.

NITV Online quoted Professor Mark McKenna in the Department of History about a proposed monument at Botany Bay to mark the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s landing in 2020.

April 2018

ABC Radio National replayed a talk by Professor Mark McKenna in the Department of History on his Quarterly Essay: Moment of Truth, History and Australia’s Future. APN News Media’s regional newspaper network and an AAP article syndicated across Yahoo!7, SBS News and Daily Mail Australia also quoted Professor McKenna about a proposed monument at Botany Bay to mark the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s landing in 2020.

Sky News interviewed Professor James Curran from the United States Studies Centre and the Department of History about the US’s actions towards Syria and the Trans Pacific Partnership, and more recently Sky News Live interviewed James about the historic meeting between the two Korean leaders as well as US President Trump’s potential meeting with Kim Jong Un in June.

The Conversation published an article by Dr Meredith Lake, Honorary Associate in the Department of History, about Australia’s declining biblical literacy, while ABC Radio Adelaide interviewed Dr Lake about the same subject.

Sky News interviewed Professor James Curran from the United States Studies Centre and the Department of History about the US imposing additional tariffs on Chinese goods.

Emeritus Professor Richard Waterhouse from the Department of History was interviewed on ABC Radio (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Gippsland) about how Easter traditions have changed in Australia.

March 2018

ABC Radio Brisbane’s Focus interviewed Professor Mark McKenna from the Department of History about the Uluru Statement and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution, and ABC Radio Sydney and 2SER Sydney interviewed Mark about his new Quarterly Essay, Moment of Truth: History and Australia’s Future, while the Sydney Morning Herald and Canberra Times published an edited extract of the essay. Both articles were syndicated across Fairfax Media online.

Straits Times (Singapore) mentioned Dr David Brophy from the Department of History and China Studies Centre led a submission to the Senate inquiry into the federal government’s foreign interference legislation by a group of academics with research expertise in China, as did SBS Online.

Dr David Brophy reviewed Clive Anderson's new book Silent Invasion for the Australian Book Review, and follows up with an op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald. In addition, 网易新闻 (China) quoted David on the same topic. quoted Professor James Curran from the Department of History about the resignation of White House communications director Hope Hicks. The article was syndicated across News Corp Australia online. While Sky News Live also interviewed James Curran about US gun laws and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to the US, and the New York Times quoted James US and Australia’s relationship with China.

January-February 2018

KPFA Radio (US) interviewed Dr Chin Jou from the Department of History and the Charles Perkins Centre about the role of the American government in creating an abundance of fast food restaurants in low incomes areas of the US.

In early February, ABC Online quoted Dr Sophie Loy-Wilson from the Department of History about China now allowing citizens of foreign countries with Chinese heritage to apply for a special five-year multiple entry visa.

Professor Shane White reviewed the latest book from Ta-Nehisi Coates, on America's racism, in the Sydney Morning Herald on Australia Day. The article was syndicated across Fairfax Media online.

"What does justice mean in a settler-colonial society?" In January, Senior Lecturer Miranda Johnson weighed in on the debate over Australia Day on Ozy. Dr. Johnson also talked about the symbolism of Jacinda Ardern's pregnancy announcement with The Age.

Weekend Australian published an article by Professor James Curran from the Department of History and the United States Studies Centre about a new biography of former Prime Minister John Curtin, John Curtin’s War Volume 1: The Coming of War in the Pacific, and Reinventing Australia by John Edwards. Australian Financial Review also published an article by Professor Curran about the "Quadrilateral Security Dialogue" that brings together the United States, Japan, India and Australia. ABC NewsRadio also interviewed Professor Curran about US President Donald Trump’s first year in office while Sky News interviewed him about US President Donald Trump's State of the Union Address.

SBS World News,, Mamamia, Central News, Yahoo!7 News quoted Dr Ben Silverstein from the Department of Indigenous Studies about the impact of changing the date of Australia Day in the light of Mark Latham’s ad to save the date.

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Dr Sarah Bendall, who recently completed her PhD, shows the value of historical reconstruction and the importance of contextualising historical comments on dress in her newly published article titled "‘Take measure of your wide and flaunting garments’: The farthingale, gender and the consumption of space in Elizabethan and Jacobean England" [] in Renaissance Studies, available as a read-only copy on desktop.[]

Rohan Howitt, a PhD student in the Department published an article entitled 'The Japanese Antarctic Expedition and the Idea of White Australia' in the November 2018 issue of Australian Historical Studies, and is available at the following link:

Professor Mark McKenna published a feature-length Quarterly Essay in the March issue, entitled: Moment of Truth: History and Australia’s Future.

Newly minted History PhD James Findlay recently featured in the Australian Historical Association's Early Career Researcher's blog site.

Sarah Dunstan, who recently completed her History PhD, also edits the Journal of the History of Ideas Blog. She recently spoke with Professor Stefanos Geroulanos about his latest book Transparency in Postwar France: A Critical History of the Present (Stanford University Press, 2017).

Newly minted-PhD Michaela Cameron contributed another biographical essay on an early female first fleeter, "Betty Eccles: The Dairy Maid (1730-1835)" as part of her ongoing and funded St John’s Cemetery Project.

PhD student Emma Kluge reflects on lessons learned on her recent research trip to PNG.

Dr. Sophie Loy-Wilson shared her advice for professionalisation during your PhD, based on a 2017 plenary talk she gave at the University of Sydney Postgraduate History Conference on the Australian Women's History Network blogsite.

PhD student Tamsin O'Connor published an article entitled, "Charting New Waters with Old Patterns: Smugglers and Pirates at the Penal Station and Port of Newcastle 1804–1823" in a special edition of the Journal of Australian Colonial History entitled "Colonial Newcastle: Essays on a Nineteenth Century Port and Hinterland," guest edited by Nancy Cushing, Julie McIntyre and David Andrew Roberts, Vol. 19 (2017), pp 17- 42.

Dr Peter Hobbins reflected on the fraught process of integrating imagination with empirical evidence in a blog post for the Professional Historians Association of NSW & ACT.

Professor Michael A. McDonnell wrote about the simple digital humanities tool he created from some recent research work that allows students to analyze historiographical trends in the flagship journal of early American history, the William & Mary Quarterly, entitled "Historiographical Revolutions in the Quarterly: From Research to Teaching," at The Panorama.

The University of Chicago Press’s journals division has launched a site devoted to new History scholarship. Dr John Gagné’s article in I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance is that journal’s featured essay, and is available via open access until mid-May 2018.

PhD student Marama Whyte weighed in on The Conversation in January about the the historical - and ongoing - battle for equal pay in the media. The essay was republished in various other places, including Mumbrella, Australian Business, and the Daily Bulletin.

PhD student Emma Kluge reminds us that slavery is not yet history. See her January blog.

The History of Science Society's newsletter recently reported on the REGS team's panel at the American Historical Association conference earlier this year. Miranda Johnson spoke, along with Sarah Walsh, Sebastián Gil-Riaño, and Ricardo Roque. Warwick Anderson served as chair.

A report on the recent workshop on the Global history of Natural Resources co-organized by the Laureate Research Program in International History in December 2017 can be found on the Past and Present website, a useful resource for the state of the art thinking on environmental history.

The December 2017 issue of the American Historical Review features a lead essay in a special forum on Banking and Finances in the Modern World by Professor Glenda Sluga entitled: '“Who Hold the Balance of the World?” Bankers at the Congress of Vienna, and in International History.'

PhD Student Sarah Bendall blogs about an amazing bit of historical reconstruction - of an early modern Rebato Collar in December.

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“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

So goes L.P. Hartley’s famous opening line from his novel, The Go-Between, a line that wistfully reflects on those characteristics of history which often cause it to elude us. History is distant and intangible, governed by different moralities; sometimes, it is a land lost entirely to us. In attempting to write history, historians will inevitably find themselves occupying the shoes of someone long gone, walking their path and breathing in their air, asking aloud, “What would they have done?”, “What would they have wanted to do?”, and of course, that everlasting, eternal question: “What happened?” Hartley’s quip about history is one that I have loved for many years, and perhaps it is no surprise that the project I have completed over the course of this semester derives a great deal of inspiration from it. But, in a way that I never would have expected, my project handles his conception of the past, as a ‘foreign country’, in an incredibly literal way.

Over the last three months, I have been volunteering for the Heritage Centre, Museum and Archives at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. The project that I have created as a result of my volunteering is a children’s programme for the RPA Museum, consisting of both an activity booklet, and a guided tour. The activity booklet, complete with illustrations and questions that the children will have to answer, interacts with a series of ‘checkpoints’ throughout the museum, marking objects or information of significance. It is at these checkpoints where the children will be able to find answers to the questions in their booklet, or fill in any missing information that the booklet requires them to.

From the very beginning of my volunteering with the Heritage Centre, it was made clear to me that the hospital’s museum was struggling to attract visitors. Over the course of my stay, there could not have been more than about a dozen or so people who wandered in or asked about the items on display. The majority of my time at RPA was thus focused on archival research and organisation, writing and re-writing plaques for objects throughout the museum, and even designing a cabinet of my own. All the work I carried out, though incredibly varied, had a singular focus: to ensure that the rich, and interesting history of the hospital was actually being communicated to the public. My work was just one part of a significant shift taking place within the hospital walls, a move to celebrate the past in a visible, and most importantly accessible way.

Visibility and accessibility were, therefore, at the forefront of my mind when I was creating my project. RPA Museum had hosted children’s tours before, but the last time that they had conducted a guided tour for schoolkids was, as manager Scott informed me, three years ago. When I asked if I could have a look at the activity booklet they had provided, hoping I could have an example to look to, Scott handed me a stack of white A4 sheets stapled together at the corners, filled haphazardly with graphs and paragraphs of medical terminology in miniscule 11-point Calibri font. It was a little amusing to see a children’s history so opposite to the histories that I most commonly see scattered around museums and libraries. Often, I find that the children’s ‘versions’ of history are written somewhat condescendingly and in an overly simplistic way; but here, I was being faced with a written history that would make an academic weep.

What was obvious for me, from that point onwards, was that I had to maintain a crucial balance between making my history accessible, and ensuring that I didn’t speak down to my audience, who were most likely going to be upper-level primary school students. Using sources from the archives, such as the hospital’s annual reports and gazettes, I selected what I believed to be interesting or important, based on the selection of evidence in secondary novels written about the hospital’s history. I made sure that my histories were written in a congenial tone, and that the writing was not too verbose or complicated. Yet I also made an effort to allow room for the children themselves to learn or research the terms they didn’t understand, which resulted in the inclusion of an interactive glossary on the last page of the booklet.

I also tried to include as diverse a history as I could – not only of various buildings, and medical instruments, but focusing also on those histories which are often marginalised. In beginning the activity booklet with an Acknowledgement of Country, I drew on Nathan Sentance’s ideas on the importance of decolonising history. He posed us all a question that we should always consider when telling history: “What responsibility do we have, as non-indigenous historians, towards the communication of indigenous history?” In writing an explanation of the importance of an Acknowledgement of Country, as well as including a biography of Alison Bush, the first Indigenous midwife to be based at a major hospital in NSW, I hoped that I would be contributing to a socially inclusive history, and informing my young audience of the meaning of this reconciliation.

Of course, it is difficult to make history (and words in general) fun for children who detest nothing more than schoolwork. In searching for examples of children’s activity books and histories, I remembered all those that I myself had read as when I was younger. Terry Deary’s Horrible Histories, with all its fun facts and hilarious tidbits was my gateway into studying history all throughout my schooling years, and I wanted to emulate the light-hearted way in which he told stories about the past. I was also determined to include illustrations in my booklet, and there is no illustrator who defined my childhood as much as Quentin Blake. His messy, inky sketches, coloured free-hand with watercolour, decorated the pages of all my favourite Roald Dahl novels, and the illustrations that I have drawn in the activity booklet are very much influenced by Blake’s signature style.

And I also realised, in researching the presentation of my project that I could, very literally, as Hartley says, make the past a foreign country. Now, I’m not a mother, and I’ve never babysat in my entire life, but I am part of a huge family full of young children. If there is one thing I know, it is that children (of all ages, really) love to feel like they’re on a quest. My letter to the reader at the very beginning of the booklet structures the tour like a scavenger hunt, making what is in essence a history lesson, a dangerous exploration through a vast and unconquerable museum. Kathleen McLean’s Whose Questions, Whose Conversations? was a reading of ours that gave me much insight in this regard, and reminded me that in presenting merely cold, hard facts, I was going to exclude my audience from what was in actuality a collaborative learning experience.

My project had a singular objective: to convey the historical significance of Royal Prince Alfred hospital in an accessible, engaging and sustainable way. I hope that in the creation of this children’s programme, I have done my part in contributing to a history that is both charming and critical. In completing these booklets and taking them home, I hope that young visitors will find some joy in owning, and helping create, a small piece of the past.

This has been a challenging, yet also rewarding class experience. It was daunting at first to be thrown straight in with not many boundaries. It was something that I had not yet experienced in my degree. Yet, it was refreshing being able to choose my own project and the organisation that I volunteered with.

I hope the guide that I have created will be of benefit to people, whether they are in their twenties or their sixties who are in the early stages of their research into Tamworth's history. Perhaps they have an idea, but do not know where to start searching for dates, sources, artefacts or contact details. My project can be used as a constant resource that they can come back to at anytime, and serve a number of different research avenues, whether it is Indigenous History, colonial history, family history or the history of local businesses. I have shaped the project to be appealing to people who do not have a historical background. In using a more informal and personal tone, the project is to be understandable to people from a variety of backgrounds and skill levels. I wanted to make it feel personal and that each of my audience to be engaging with both my and the organisations passion for Tamworth’s history. From conversations with friends and family, I understood that many of them engage with history when it is delivered in a personable and avant-garde way, whether that be through television, film, or a quirky article in the newspaper or on Facebook. This project is about local connections through a love of history and the Tamworth region. My tone and sometimes second person address is to make the audience feel welcome in their own research. I did not want it to sound like a dry history textbook, but something that plants a little seed of curiosity within the reader. Ultimately, my project was to inspire people into digging deeper into their local history. I wanted to craft a resource that would highlight some wonderful organisations around the Tamworth region who are dedicated to helping people investigate the city’s past and how they fit within it.

My final lines of my project read like this;

May this guide be the beginning of your research journey into Tamworth’s history. As it has been shown to you, there are a plethora of exciting historical moments that have happened in Tamworth’s past. History is thriving in this city, we just have to open our eyes and find it. Be inspired and affected by our city’s past and share your discoveries amongst the community.

Thank you again for a wonderful semester.

“Forget academic history. Go out there, get alongside an organisation, listen to them, and co-construct a public history with them.”

If I were to synthesise the mantra of this unit of study to a lay person, this is how I’d go about it. In fact, when I shared it with people in my life, I’d usually start with “Screw academic history”. Perhaps this is a crude articulation of a more complex and thoughtful unit of study on engaging with ‘History Beyond the Classroom’. However, I think it aptly depicts the jarring provocation and passion that drove a group of 30-odd history students to shift their frames of reference and stretch their conceptualisation of history.

Through working with Parliament on King this semester, I have learnt that public history is a dynamic process that fluctuates and evolves, as the historian and the organisation seek to authentically collaborate and co-construct a shared history for the public. Through engaging with oral history at Parliament on King, I have learnt that the historian needs to throw away the notion of agenda-driven productivity, and take time to build relationships, listen, ask questions and be present. This project is significant as it complicates a linear and static depiction of history or way of remembering, which can so often dominate historical accounts, as it provides an alternative emphasis on experience, stories and narrative. The hope is that this podcast will provide a small scale, experiential representation of Parliament’s public history, rather than merely a linear depiction of Parliament’s historical timeline.

Parliament on King, myself as the student researcher and oral historian, and the wider community are likely to benefit from this project. Lorina Barker acknowledges that in trying to learn about other people’s ‘connections and disconnections to place’, the historian begins ‘their own journey of rediscovery and reconnection’. This reveals the mutual benefit of oral history and equalises the power dynamics that exist in the collection of oral histories, as both parties are recognised as learning, sharing and discovering. This is my hope for this project.

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My project involved working with Northern Beaches Council to assist in delivering a series of heritage and arts activation events across the Northern Beaches local area as part of a unique program entitled Our Stories: Yesterday | Today | Tomorrow. This program, the first of its kind for the Northern Beaches local area, was conceived and implemented primarily by Bethany Falzon, Arts & Cultural Development Officer at Northern Beaches Council, along with the rest of the Social Planning & Community Development team. Support and funding for Our Stories came through the NSW Government’s new Heritage Near Me program aimed at increasing community awareness of and engagement with the diverse heritage found across NSW.

Our Stories involved a series of events at three locations across the Northern Beaches local area. Specifically, I was working on the site at Fisherman’s Beach, Collaroy. Sheltered on the northern side of Long Reef headland, nestled on the foreshore behind the tidal rock platforms, sits a heritage-listed Fisherman’s Hut. The Hut is almost 150 years old and, together with a collection of now-rusted winches scattered over the grassy sand dune, the last physical reminder of a small (and illegal) fishing community that became synonymous with the area, hence the name Fisherman’s Beach. Our Stories sought to explore the unique cultural and natural history of this littorally prominent place, using art and community involvement as ways to engage with these special heritage stories. The underlying argument was one of creative heritage conservation. Whilst the Hut itself (along with the surrounding landscape and vegetation) is heritage-listed and as such afforded a certain amount of legislative protection in terms of physical alterations and/or additions to its construction, this does not necessarily entail a strictly preservationist view. Moreover, by creatively engaging with the history of the Hut, Fisherman’s Beach, and the Long Reef headland area more broadly through the medium of artistic interpretation, the story of Fisherman’s Hut becomes situated as one story of many in a rich tapestry of local history, including natural history and Aboriginal heritage stories.

When researching for the project, evidence was scant. As this fishing community was technically an illegal setup there was little in the way of formal, official documentation to consider, save for a few notes in older Warringah Council documents referring to the ‘squatters’ at Fisherman’s Beach. I spent many days trawling online databases and even a visit to the State Library of NSW. The little evidence I did find mostly consisted of photographs of Fisherman’s Beach featuring the huts and boats. A substantial body of evidence came from Tony Davis, current President of the Long Reef Fishermen’s Club, the current owner/occupiers of the Hut, in the form of a loose-leaf folder containing assorted historical items relating to the Hut, including un-archived photographs, newspaper clippings, original heritage data forms and correspondence with Club members. These items were digitally scanned and used in the historical and artistic interpretation of the site. Additional evidence came when local artists Susan Milne and Greg Stonehouse conducted informal oral interviews and story-telling sessions with current members of the Fishermen’s Club. Aboriginal perspectives and stories were sourced from written and oral sources, including informal discussions with Karen Smith, Education Officer for the Northern Beaches branch of the Office of Aboriginal Heritage. Karen is from the Buruberongal clan of the Hawkesbury area and shared many stories about Aboriginal culture and heritage in the Long Reef area that helped to formulate the idea of a guided walking tour. Utilising these various sources, the project explored some complex themes including the overlap of art, history and community engagement in public forms of history and the idea of multiple historical stories existing within a single space.

The primary presentation of this public history project took the form of a community event held on 24th November 2018 at Fisherman’s Beach. This event featured a series of interpretive art installations by local artists Susan Milne and Greg Stonehouse exploring the history and heritage of the Fisherman’s Beach area and the fishing community in particular. This involved several days work prior cleaning out the hut and installing the artworks. I authored a short piece on the history and heritage of the Hut which was used as a temporary plaque mounted on the side of the Hut on the day of the event. The event also included two guided walking tours, one focusing on Aboriginal heritage stories and the other on the unique ecosystem of Long Reef headland and the tidal rock platform. Both were pre-registered tours, with 30-35 people partaking in each. In all, close to 100 people attended the event on the day either as registered participants or as ‘walk-ins’. Cursory feedback on the day was overwhelmingly positive, with many people confessing they had little knowledge of the unique cultural and natural history of this iconic Northern Beaches location – and many just admitting ‘I’ve always wondered what’s inside there’ when exploring the Hut itself. This community event helped to open up and shed light on the unique stories of Fisherman’s Beach and Long Reef.

The event having taken place, the Hut has since been returned to its former state. I spent a day finalising de-installation, moving items and general ‘stuff’ of the Fishermen’s Club back into the Hut. The ephemeral artworks are gone. The historical plaques have been removed. Now it is as if nothing ever happened at the Hut on Fisherman’s Beach. But of course that is just not true. Our Stories will linger.

History can be a lot like fishing. I know that now. You can spend an age doing nothing but looking, searching, trawling to find what you need, or what you think you need. It can be exhausting work, all the while asking those questions tinged with self-doubt and uncertainty: ‘what if I don’t catch anything? Should I just call it a day?’

In the end, it’s not really about whether or not you catch anything. As a historian working on this project, my job was never to write the definitive history of Fisherman’s Beach. No, my job as a historian wasn’t to catch a fish necessarily, but instead to ‘go fishing’, to see what I could find.

What I found on Fisherman’s Beach wasn’t at all what I expected. But I’m so glad I went fishing there.

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Enter the Assyrian Universal Alliance's office and the first thing you will notice is a proud gallery of achievements, trophies, Parliamentary awards, cultural art, sculptures and a heritage flag that was only officially recognised one year ago. Once you've managed to stop your eyes from wandering around the room and remind yourself that you're being rude since you haven't even been welcomed in yet, you won't help but notice that sitting behind a desk with towers of paperwork and a laptop screen covering their faces are the leaders of probably the most humbling NGO you could ever come across. Probably a subjective opinion, I know, since I'm an Assyrian myself, but hey, at least they didn't think I was rude for barging in without an invitation to enter! Instead, I was greeted with a loud, "Shlamalakh" (meaning "peace upon you" in Assyrian) and 2 welcoming smiles. I knew, then, that I hadn't broken any silent rule and wasn't going to be left feeling ashamed. No. I was just being an Assyrian– curious and nosy. And, I suppose it took this project for me to actually appreciate and value my ethnicity as one without a country but definitely one with a rich history and a LONG list of achievements.

And that's exactly what I put together for the AUA- Australian Chapter. The AUA was established exactly 50 years ago with the intent to represent the Assyrian diaspora which had fled their homeland of Iraq following countless persecutions, unrecognised genocides and discriminatory treatment from tyrannical regimes and oppressive forces. But I knew this already. I didn't think there was anything special to it since I had grown up listening to the same old, sad, depressing stories of genocide from my parents and other older relatives. However, what I had failed to realise from all of this was just how controversial my mere existence as an Assyrian is. And I have the AUA to thank, for opening my ignorant eyes to this realm of endless impossibilities and exciting chaos. Happy to help and always beaming, they extended their resources, including newspaper clippings, photos from the 60s to the present and even private minutes from Congress meetings. It was hard work collating all these sources, sorting them out into a logical timeline that would provide thorough yet succinct detail about the AUA's achievements. There were days where the "information overload" of it all would get too much but I had to remind myself of why I chose to assist this organisation in the first place. And, no, it had nothing to do with them being Assyrian. Well, kind of.

In a FaceBook post published by the AUA, a "troll" had commented, attempting to squash the AUA organisation into a pulp for being "useless" and ineffective. I responded. And it wasn't pretty. But I did want to make the point clear that the AUA was working and working very hard, indeed, to voice the concerns of the Assyrian community and urge the Australian government to take action. But I didn't really have the facts. I only wrote down what I had heard from my family. And it was this specific event which had made me immediately think of the AUA when Professor McDonnell informed us that we would need to choose one NGO and help them out. So, I suppose in helping the AUA out I was actually helping myself out in the process.

Well, after many late, tiresome nights in my room, laying on the floor with my notes and sources (and not to mention that cold cup of tea that lays there sadly forgotten), I was able to produce a not-so-very-humble, 15-paged document of the lists of the AUA's achievements and history. With this, I hope to show whoever stumbles upon my project that the AUA is useful, is effective and is constantly seeking for new ways that could benefit their community while also facing denigration from all sorts of platforms imaginable.

It has been an absolute honour working with the AUA team and I daresay that I will be continuing my work with them as we aim to upload my work onto their website before the end of this year. With this information on their site, we hope to publicise and, perhaps, memorialise a history of a forgotten empire that continues to take out breaths and breathe in new ones to this day.

*ATOUR is Assyrian for Assyria

I first thought of writing this project like a story when I saw how many news articles were attached to BMYS. It was clear that people liked reading and hearing stories about the organisation.

It has been a great semester and, admittedly, I have probably spent more time working and helping the organisation itself than thinking about my project. But this time hasn’t been for naught. It’s been valuable and has contributed to how I’ve thought about my project as a whole. For example, even though the interviewees are all adult subjects, I have tried my best to keep the project as youth-centric as possible. This is evident through the many stories about the youth.

The main challenge was getting numerous interviews to be consistent since there were always multiple perspectives on one event. But the main joy of this was to see that everyone had their own individual experience even though events were shared. This also forms the backbone of my project which recollects dialogue and memories. What went really well was also the main challenge, which was the interviews. I think that these were difficult logistically as well—it was difficult to track down people who were involved with the organisation from decades earlier.

Overall, I feel that it has achieved its main outcome with reaching a wide audience in the local area. It has been such a long journey and I appreciate all the support which I’ve been given through the community organisation and through class. I will remain connected with this organisation in the years to come.

The Authors

About the Blog

A space for history majors, professionals, citizen-historians and the community to exchange ideas and build new histories.

Aboriginal History


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Holy Cross College, Ryde

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O'Connell Public School

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