Custodians of Memory – The Sydney Jewish Museum

History is a craft of respecting, preserving and transmitting memories of the past – but who takes the responsibility for this craft-making process when the very sources of memory begin to fade? From its establishment in 1992, the Sydney Jewish Museum has been a leader in preserving the memories of Holocaust survivors who have found refuge in Australia, ensuring that their histories remain alive and that dynamic conversations surrounding its horrors and legacies flourish into future generations. The Museum itself has been a cultural focal point and meeting place for the Sydney Jewish community, housing an impressive collection of personal objects and original memorabilia related to the Holocaust, Judacia and Australian Jewish history. The extensive range of permanent and feature exhibitions is almost entirely composed of personal donations and artefacts from the Sydney Jewish community, such as identification cards, letters and uniforms; and importantly, completely void of any display of Nazi iconography or infrastructure. This reflects the Museum’s objective to convey the Holocaust history specifically through the personal testimonial narratives of individual, Jewish experiences, not from the voices of the oppressors. These stories are particularly valued for their delicacy, as the Museum foremost acknowledges that survivors relive their memories in retelling them and inviting their audiences to harbour the legacy. 

The faithful preservation of memory and authentic Jewish voice has been ever-paramount in the face of the dwindling generation of Holocaust survivors. The custodianship of Holocaust memory has been gradually transitioned from the generation of survivors and their immediate relationship with the past, to their succeeding generations of descendants who grapple with a mediated one. The Museum has therefore successfully incorporated digital technologies to keep survivor voices alive with evolving mediums of history-making – most notably, through the Dimensions in Testimony project, where six Sydney-based Holocaust survivors and their biographies have been preserved using artificial intelligence (AI) and language processing technologies. These new digital projects are also accompanied by the continuously evolving range of online events offered by the Museum, such as historian panellist discussions, blog posts which document historiographical and curatorial discussions, representational mediums such as book launches and film screenings, and virtual workshops and tours, which ensure the longevity of survivor voices. 

The Museum also aims to explicate the lessons of the Holocaust through a more universal, intercultural framework. The humanitarian dimensions of the Holocaust and survivor narratives – particularly how it embodies the nadir of humanity, the consequences of prejudice, and the importance of celebrating (rather than annhilating) religious and cultural diversity – are extracted to further and more contemporary issues of morality and human rights. The Museum’s pivotal vision for the intergenerational and intercultural transmission of Holocaust memory is therefore encapsulated by its most recent permanent exhibition, The Holocaust and Human Rights – ensuring that the Holocaust reveals the necessity to lead with empathy in championing the rights of Refugees and Asylum Seekers, People with Disabilities, First Australians and the LGBTQI community. Though I do not identify as belonging to the Jewish community, my sense of connection to this Museum derives from the similar desire for belonging as a person of colour in Australia – reflecting upon what it means to be an ethnic-Other in a hegemonic, Eurocentric landscape which denies my culture (in inconspicuous ways); and writing history as a means to articulate this longing and keep the voices of the past alive.

Autism Spectrum Australia – Who are they and what do they do?

Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) is a non-for-profit organisation that provides services for people living on the autism spectrum and support to their families/carers. Aspect was first established in 1966 as Autistic Children’s Association of NSW by a group of parents on the North Shore of Sydney. The absence of early intervention programs propelled these parents to set up initiatives and facilities for their children and other autistic children across NSW. In 1971, Aspect’s first school opened on 3.4 acres of government granted land in Forestville, known as Aspect Vern Barnett School. Today, the organisation has 9 schools in NSW operating from 72 locations in NSW and South Australia and supports for more than 1,185 students. It is also the largest disability-specific education provider in the world. 

Aspect Vern Barnett School

A fundamental division of Autism Spectrum Australia is it’s Aspect Research Centre for Autism Practice. Using evidence-based research in partnership with the Autistic community , Aspect utilises strategies that are respectful, person-centred, family-focused and customer-driven. Aspects other activities include information services, early intervention, diagnostic and assessment services, transitions services for school-aged children to non-autism specific environments and therapy services/behavioural support for people on the autism spectrum. Parental guidance and career support services are also provided by Aspect. Aspect’s services are driven by the purpose to understand, engage and celebrate the strengths, interests and aspirations of people on the autism spectrum. 

My current project with Aspect will be a podcast with members of the organisation and autism community to discuss its history and progress from 1966 to today. While interviewing the valued members of Aspect I will uncover and document how the organisation has achieved its remarkable progress and the various challenges it had to face across the years. 

Aspect has been an organisation that I’ve known about since I was barely walking and talking. My older brother, Harrison, has autism spectrum and an intellectual disability. He attended Aspect Vern Barnett School in primary school and my parents were subsequently involved with the organisation. From a young age, Harry’s autism was just an everyday element of our family. However as I’ve gotten older, the work my parents have done for Harry and our family have shown me the impact that care and support can have on us as individuals. A focus that is also witnessed within Aspect as an organisation. Aspect ensures no individuals with autism spectrum or family/career is left unsupported or alone throughout all stages of their life.

12 year old me speaking at Aspect’s Comedy Night in 2013
Harry (My brother) and I at 2022 Melbourne Grand Prix

2021 Lockdown Achievements

In light of how stressful the past few years have been for many of us, Associate Professor Frances Clarke thought it would be worthwhile having a reminder of all the great work being done in the Department of History. She has put together a greatest hits list, and it is pasted below. It is by no means complete; just a sample of peoples’ activities. It was originally put together in December, 2021, so it is already a little out of date….!

HDR Completions and Achievements in 2021

Peter Brownlee: is a current postgraduate student in history. He presented a paper, “Badham of Sydney: The Making of a Public Intellectual in Colonial New South Wales, 1867-1884,” at the Classics in Colonial Cities Virtual conference in November 2021.

Shayne Brown: completed a Master of Arts (Res), under Julia Horne’s supervision, for her thesis “Hindsight: The Development of Orthoptics in Australia, 1931-36.” The thesis was praised by the examiners for its contribution to the important story of the limitations and opportunities for women in the workforce in 20th century Australia. Of special mention was the biographical research into the women who constituted this profession.

Ryan Cropp: received his PhD in 2021, for his biography of Australian intellectual Donald Horne, with Mark McKenna as lead supervisor. The examiners were enthusiastic in their praise: I doubt that there could be a more impressive Australian doctoral thesis in the field of humanities…Ryan’s thesis is beautifully written with very many fine and even sparkling turns of phrase,” wrote one examiner. The other concluded: “The thesis is consistently outstanding from the point of view of originality, depth of scholarship, empathy and imagination for his subject, and significance for our understanding of the intellectual life and political culture of Australia, from the early years of the Second World War until the election of the Whitlam government. Nothing like this exists with regards to Horne and his intellectual contribution. It will change the way we see the Australian political culture and the influence of the political intelligentsia between the late 1930s and the early 1970s.” As many of you will know, Ryan has expanded his family while finishing his thesis. He and his partner have two children: Patrick (now 2 years old) and Hazel (just a few months)—possibly a department record for new life production amidst thesis completion? Ryan has, in addition, taught the summer and winter intensive Australian History units for the department, as well as a second-year history unit in 2020-21. Black Inc. Publishers have already snapped up his manuscript, and Ryan will be working on revisions in the months ahead.

Robin Eames: started a doctoral thesis in 2019. Since then, they have had an article published in Lilith: A Feminist History Journal and presented two conference papers this year, one at the Australian Historical Association Conference, and the other at University of Liverpool’s Postgraduate History Conference.

Emma Kluge: completed her PhD under the lead supervision of Sophie Loy Wilson. One examiner noted that Emma’s thesis “challenges inaccurate notions of West Papuan primitiveness and passiveness in the 1960s, thereby also challenging these notions as they continue to operate today,” by highlighting “the voices, actions, and historical agency of the people of West Papua who fought for freedom and independence.” The other argued that the thesis constituted “the seeds of a “pathbreaking book” that promises to situate “West Papua in global decolonisation along both Afro-Asian and Pacific axes, as well as the global indigenous rights movement.” Emma went on to take up a six-month fellowship with the Anglican Deaconess Ministries examining the Church and Decolonisation in the Pacific. In September 2021, she began a two-year Max Weber postdoctoral fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence. 

Jacqui Newling: was awarded a PhD in April 2021. Exploring the role of food in the founding years of the convict colony of New South Wales, Jacqui’s meticulous re-examination of primary sources through a gastronomic lens enabled her to argue convincingly that the ‘Hungry Years’ were not so hungry as cliched interpretations of that era suggest. The examiners praised her innovative research strategies and compelling analysis, finding that her cultural history of food, food security, and hunger brought ‘fresh life’ to Australia’s tired foundation story. They agreed that the ‘fresh, sustained and cohesive argument’ in this thesis ‘makes a very important contribution to colonial history and encourages a rethink of accepted wisdom’. Jacqui is now working at Sydney Living Museums as an assistant curator, specialising in place-based social history and heritage. She co-curated the ‘Eat Your History: A Shared Table’ exhibition at the Museum of Sydney. She is the ‘Cook’ in the blog, The Cook and the Curator as well as author of the award winning book Eat Your History: Stories and Recipes from Australian Kitchens. In addition to her food heritage projects, Jacqui curated the Enchanted Valley digital interactive at Museum of Sydney and the End of Transportation exhibit at the Hyde Park Barracks.

Ebony Nilsson: completed her doctoral thesis “‘The Enemy Within’: Left-wing Soviet Displaced Persons in Australia,” under the supervision of Sheila Fitzpatrick.  Her thesis was approved unconditionally with glowing comments from two distinguished examiners, who judged the dissertation “excellent,” demonstrating “outstanding skills of historical research and analysis” and showing “industry, erudition, and insight”. Her doctorate was conferred in early 2021. She is now a post-doctoral fellow at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne.

Emily Paget: completed her Master of Philosophy under the supervision of Nick Eckstein in 2021, for her thesis “Modes of Engagement with Astrology in Seventeenth-Century England.” Avoiding the well-trodden path of examining the dissemination of astrological ideas in 17th-century England, Emily addressed the more elusive and difficult-to-study question of how a literate public—with varying levels of expertise—responded to, discussed, and understood such concepts and theories. The two eminent examiners of Emily’s thesis praised her erudition and her knowledge of the field, and both recommended that she publish her research. The opening remarks of one examiner sum up Emily’s success best: she praised Emily’s ‘firm and confident voice,’ declaring that the thesis as a whole was ‘a delight to read.’

Anne Thoeming: was awarded a PhD in December 2021 or her thesis titled ‘Herbert Michael Moran: An Australian Life, 1885–1945.’ The examiners were very complimentary about her biography—‘a fascinating insight into the life of a man’ and ‘an admirable work of historical recovery’. As one examiner wrote: ‘This beautifully crafted and deftly written thesis was a joy to read and examine from start to finish . . . From the opening pages, I was drawn into the story of this enigmatic, mercurial, and highly complex individual. Parts of Moran’s life have been covered by historians and writers over time, but generally the focus has been on his sporting achievements, or his medical roles, or his dalliance with fascism in the 1930s. Until now, no-one has attempted to pull together all the various parts of this life, in such detail and with scrupulous research. Thus, the thesis forms a substantial original contribution to biography and Australian history more broadly. In doing so, it creates a new genre of ‘the post federation Australian man’.

Luke Tucker: was awarded his PhD in May 2021, for his thesis “Devotio Moderna: Confrontations with Scholastic, University Culture.” The Devotio Moderna (Modern Devotion) was a religious and social movement with roots in the fourteenth-century Low Countries. The thesis explores the epistemological relationship between the Devotio Moderna and learned university culture. Using Charles Taylor’s framework of the Social Imaginary, Luke’s thesis argues that the Devotio Moderna developed based on an Augustinian Imaginary, a sense deriving from Augustine and his medieval interlocutors. By the late fourteenth century, this Augustinian Imaginary, long since sustained by cathedral schools and monastic education, now stood in competition with the universitas, a competing Social Imaginary that the New Devout could not reconcile with their Augustinian Imaginary and therefore rejected. By articulating the Devotio Moderna’s daily habits of reading, writing, and prayer, Luke’s thesis argues that this site of conflict between the Devotio Moderna and scholastic, university culture loomed large in the movement’s imagination. Examiners praised Luke’s “perceptive and fruitful approach” to his material, calling his discoveries “very insightful,” “exciting and extremely promising,” noting that the thesis showed “a thoughtful historian grappling with major questions and with impressive skills in synthesising materials” across multiple languages including Latin and late medieval Dutch. On 5 November 2020 (just a few weeks after submitting his PhD for examination), Luke and his wife Emily celebrated the arrival of their daughter, Beatrice Jane Tucker.

Shensi (Ethan) Yi: Started his PhD under David Brophy’s supervision in 2016, and his thesis is now under examination. In the past year he has published articles in Historical Research and History. He has had two additional articles accepted for publication; one in Asian Studies Review, and the other in International Labor and Working Class History. In addition, he presented a paper at the Chinese Studies Association of Australia’s Biennial Conference.

Academic Staff and Affiliates

Warwick Anderson: was co-chair of the steering committee on health and climate change of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences this year, drafting a statement on the subject which will be launched in February 2022. He was consulted on the lessons of history for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout by Lt Gen JJ Frewin. He successfully proposed the theme (Remaking the Humanities in a Climate Emergency) of the 2021 annual meeting of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and continued to serve on the national committee for History and Philosophy of Science of the Australian Academy of Science. He also continues to lead the politics, governance, and ethics theme of the CPC. He was appointed to the research steering committee of the Sydney Infectious Diseases Institute (formerly Marie Bashir Institute). He participated in the Rapid Response Information Forum of the office of the Australian chief scientist, giving Covid-19 advice. He serves on the editorial boards of six international journals, and recently completed terms on the Genomics Health Futures Mission (which awarded $500 million in grants) and as president of the Pacific Circle (part of the IUST of UNESCO). He has received funding for and begun co-organizing two workshops for 2022: one on the Past, Present and Future of Precision Medicine; the other on the Social Sciences of Disease Modelling (supported by an ASSA workshop grant). He continues to supervisor PhD, masters and honours students, as well as post-doctoral fellows. Warwick also published articles this year in Arena Quarterly, History and Philosophy of Life Sciences, ABE Journal, Social Studies of Science, and the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, as well as two articles in edited collections: “Think like a Virus,” in Preexisting Conditions: A 2020 Reader. ed. Thomas J. Sugrue and Caitlin Zaloom (Columbia University Press); and with N. Sankaran, “Historiography and Immunology,” in Handbook of the Historiography of Biology, ed. Michael R. Dietrich, Mark E. Borello, and Oren Harmen (Springer). He has competed multiple works that are now under review: an edited book with R. Roque, Racial Laboratories: Colonial and National Racializations in Southeast Asia; another edited book with C. Corbould and C. Greenhalgh, Social Science, Subjectivity, and the State: Social Surveying from Neighborhood Map to Big Data; an article “Viral Waste, or Covid Down the Toilet: Post-Colonic Pandemic Biopolitics,” sent to Somatosphere; “History and Philosophy of Science Takes Form,” sent to Studies in History and Philosophy of Science; “Collecting Dust, and Other Hydrocarbons,” sent to Grey Room; an article, “Planetary Health Histories,” written with Jamie Dunk and sent to Isis; and an article written with T. Capon, S. Lo, J. Braithwaite, K. Charlesworth, and D. Pencheon, “Making Australian Healthcare Fully Sustainable,” sent to the Medical J. of Australia. Finally, Warwick collaborated with M.S. Lindee on “Decolonizing Histories of Genetics?” for UC Press Blog; and, along with Jamie Dunk, gave an interview for História, Ciências, Saúde – Manguinhos. Along with numerous lectures and seminar presentations, Warwick delivered the following keynote and plenary addresses: at the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes annual meeting; the German Association for Postcolonial Studies annual meeting; the Society for Social Studies of Science annual meeting; the Science and Democracy Network annual meeting; and a conference on Decolonizing Knowledge Cultures in Southeast Asia, in Yogyakarta. Additionally, he did podcasts and interviews with Third Spacing (Singapore) and the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (Philadelphia).

David Brophy: as well as teaching, supervising, and serving as our undergraduate coordinator, Dave published China Panic: Australia’s Alternative Path to Paranoia and Pandering (Black Inc) in 2021. He also translated Muhammad Sadiq Kashghari, In Remembrance of the Saints: the Rise and Fall of an Inner Asian Sufi Dynasty (Columbia University Press, 2021).

Sophie Chao: received a DECRA in 2021 for her project“Human-Kangaroo Relations: Reconciling Knowledges, Perceptions, and Practices.” She also secured Academy of the Social Sciences funding for a workshop “From Theory to Practice: Leveraging Feminist Approaches to Care at a Time of Crisis.” She has a forthcoming book, In the Shadow of the Palms: More-Than-Human Becomings in West Papua (Duke University Press, 2022), for which she has already received an award: The Duke University Press Scholars of Color First Book Award. Over the past year, Sophie has published eight articles on the intersections of ecology, Indigeneity, capitalism, health, and justice in American EthnologistAmerican AnthropologistMedical Anthropology: Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and IllnessJournal of the Royal Anthropological InstituteBorderlandsThe International Journal of Human RightseTropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, and Art + Australia. She has co-edited a volume, The Promise of Multispecies Justice accepted for publication by Duke University Press, forthcoming in November 2022 (this project is supported by a Discovery Project grant received in 2019).  She also has three book chapters in edited volumes: The Mind of Plants: Narratives on Vegetal Intelligence (Synergetic Press), Introducing Anthropology: What Makes Us Human? (Polity Press), and Earth Cries: A Climate Change Anthology (Sydney University Press). In terms of outreach and engagement, Sophie has given interviews and written op-edits and essays for The Conversation, BBC News, New Internationalist, Science, Asian Currents, TRT World, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research magazine SAPIENS, Food Matters, the Sydney Environment Institute Blog, The Society for Cultural Anthropology’s Fieldsights series, and the online magazine Plumwood Mountain: An Australian Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics. She has created three podcasts produced by Idioms of Normality, Talking Indonesia, and Visualizing the Virus. Over the past year, she has given two dozen guest seminars and keynotes; at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of California Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania, Concordia University, Cornell University, New York University, the Royal Anthropological Institute, Central University of Karnataka, Carleton University, Sydney Health Ethics, The American Institute for Indonesian Studies & Michigan State University, Royal University of Bhutan, HeartPolitics, Sydney Southeast Asia Centre and the Nordic Institute for Asian Studies, The Mind of Plants Symposium, Forest Peoples Programme, and Requiem: Sydney Festival, Sydney Environment Institute, Environmental Humanities Research Stream and Shadow Places Network,52nd Annual Symposium of the Australian Academy of the Humanities,American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting. She has been re-elected as Secretary of the Australian Anthropological Society for a second term and appointed to the Editorial Board of Cultural Anthropology (2022–2025) and Suomen antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society (2022–2023), as well as to the Grant Review Panel of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (2021-23). She will take up an appointment in the Department of Anthropology in 2022.

Frances Clarke: revised a History Workshop seminar in 2021 as well as creating a new third year seminar on the reverberations of U.S. wars and imperialism since 1900. She supervised honours, MA, and PhD students, and served as the department’s postgraduate coordinator, and one of the school’s postgraduate coordinators. With Rebecca Jo Plant, she completed a 200,000 word manuscript, Of Age: Boy Soldiers and Military Power in Civil War America, with which will come out next year with Oxford. She co-edited the Australasian Journal of American Studies, and gave several conference papers—one a special session on our forthcoming book for the biennial Conference for the History of Childhood and Youth; the other a paper at the Australian New Zealand American Studies Association conference in November on plans for emancipation in the U.S.  She also spent a good portion of 2021 working with half a dozen ARC collaborators on a book that examines the aftermath of war across two centuries.

James Curran: recently published The Last of the Dream Sellers: David Campese (Scribe) that uses an Australian rugby legend to understand sporting and political culture in 1980s Australia as well as the nature of Campese’s sporting genius. In 2021, he published a chapter on Australian foreign policy in The Breakup of Greater Britain, ed. by Stuart Ward and Christian Pedersen (Manchester Uni Press), and an article on Paul Keating’s 1995 security agreement with Indonesia in Australian Foreign Affairs. This year, he has almost finished The Costs of Fear and Greed: A Modern History of Australia-China Relations, which will come out in 2022 with NewSouth Press. And he has continued a fortnightly column on foreign affairs in The Australian Financial Review, in addition to doing radio interviews on the ABC and other stations on foreign policy topics and on the subject of his recently published book. An edited transcript of an interview that he did as a PhD student in 2000 with Paul Keating’s speechwriter, Don Watson, was just published in the winter 2021 issue of Meanjin. In other news, James has been commissioned to edit three DFAT Historical Documents Series Volumes on Australia-China relations, 1972-83. He is a member of the DFAT Historical Documents Advisory Board, which is appointed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Marco Duranti: co-edited Decolonisation, Self-Determination, and the Rise of Global Human Rights in 2020, with Dirk Moses and Roland Burke. He published several pieces on human rights and empire before going on parental leave. On September 9, 2020, he became the proud father of Sofia Hazel Duranti.

Nick Eckstein: is currently working on a book titled Plague. He recently submitted an article “Plague Time: Space, Fear and Emergency Statecraft in Early-Modern Italy,” for a special issue of Renaissance and Reformation. With Sophie Loy-Wilson and technical assistance from Peter Adams, Nick produced six podcast episodes of the History Department podcast How Was it Really? Nick and Sophie are currently working on series 2, which will start in early 2022. He became a grandparent for the fourth time this year, when Imogen Sarah Eckstein was born to his daughter-in-law and son.

John Gagne: in addition to teaching and supervision of Honours and PhD students and acting as the Director of the Medieval and Early Modern Center at Usyd, John published Milan Undone: Contested Sovereignties in the Italian Wars. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2021), as well as “Dinner with the Greatest Man on Earth, or, Erasmus’s Sword and d’Alviano’s Pen.” Sixteenth Century Journal 51:4 (2020): 983-1007.

Chris Hilliard: Chris’s new book, A Matter of Obscenity came out with Princeton in September and was launched over Zoom at King’s College London’s Contemporary British History Centre, in the midst of teaching duties and homeschooling. His book has been positively reviewed in Spiked and the TLS. He has published an article in Literature and History and had another accepted by History Workshop Journal.  

Julia Horne: was awarded an ARC for 2021-24 for her project “Universities and Postwar Recovery 1943-57” (lead by Julia with CIs Kate Darian-Smith (UTas), James Waghorne (UMelb), and Stephen Garton). She published “Mass Education and University Reform in Late Twentieth Century Australia,” British Journal of Educational Studies 68:5 as well as an introduction, with Nick Horne, to The Education of Young Donald Trilogy (a new edition of a 1967 classic, published by NewSouth Press, 2021). In addition, she co-edited, with Matthew Thomas, Australian Universities: A Conversation About Public Good (Sydney University Press, 2022), and created an online international conference, Classics in Colonial Cities, with Barbara Caine and Alastair Blanchard.

Rohan Howitt: After finishing his doctoral work, Rohan began teaching in the History Department, earning rave reviews from students and colleagues for his work in the History Department and for the INGS program. He will leave us next year to take up a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in the Center for Environmental History at ANU.

Leah Lui-Chivizhe: in 2021,in addition to teaching duties and campus activism, Leah completed a book Masked Histories: Turtle Shell Masks and Torres Strait Islander People (Miegunyah Press, Melbourne University Publishing) which will come out in July 2022. She also has an article “The Coral Reefs of Zenadth Kes (Torres Strait),” in Australia’s Coral Reefs, (eds.) Sarah Hamylton, Pat Hutchings, Ove Heogh-Guldberg (CSIRO Publishing), that will follow the book into print. She began several new research affiliations: one Indigeneities in the 21st century, with Ludwig Maximilian Universities of Munich and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge UK; the other Reclaiming TAWD, with Max Planck Institute, Berlin 2021-2025. This is in addition to her ongoing research affiliation with100 Histories of 100 Worlds in 1 Object, started in 2019. Her public activities include being the anchor for a Q&A panel at the Sydney premiere of the documentary film Alick & Albert; participating in the First Nations Speaker Series, a collaboration between GML Heritage and the ANU Research Centre for Deep History; acting as an editorial board member for the Journal of Pacific History ANU, and acting as an adjudicator for a Sydney Festival event “To Cook Cook or Not?” which was designed to challenge the significance of James Cook’s voyage to Australian and stimulate discussion about the narratives that define the story of Australia. Finally, she was elected this year to the General Council, History Council of New South Wales.

Cindy McCreery: received a Faculty Teaching Excellence Award in 2021, in recognition of the design and teaching in hsty3803: British and Modern European History, a new third year History seminar taught in-person and remotely in the new Chau Chak Wing Museum in semester 1, 2021. She received school funding to create a new research network ‘Modern Monarchy in Global Perspective’ and to design a website. As part of the network’s activities, she is organizing an international online conference in June 2022, ‘Going Platinum: Australian responses to the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, 1952-2022.’ She has presented conference papers at the Royal Studies Network’s international ‘Kings and Queens 10’ conference in June-July 2021 and the Pacific History Association’s bi-annual conference in November 2021. She has published an article in History Australia: ‘Orders from Disorder? King Kalākaua’s 1881 Global tour and the Hawaiian Monarchy’s late Nineteenth-century Deployment of Royal Orders and decorations’, History Australia (2021). In addition, she created a new ‘Promotion Pathways Programme’ in SOPHI to provide expert guidance and mentoring for academic staff at all levels around the promotion process at Usyd.

Michael McDonnell: is feeling fortunate for simply having survived another difficult year. He is thankful for supportive and understanding colleagues who made it manageable. He continued to make progress on several long-running projects, including a three-volume Cambridge History of the American Revolution, a co-authored monograph, with Clare Corbould, on the American Revolution in Black American Life (now under contract with The New Press), and another ARC funded book project on Revolutionary Lives: Memoirs and Memories of the Age of Revolution. The lockdown in the second half of the year slowed research and writing progress substantially with two children back at home from school, but he did serve on a Level E promotion panel, in various mentoring programs, as SOPHI coordinator for FASS3999, and had the privilege of being involved in the hiring of a wonderful new Department colleague this past year. He was also elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2021 and continued to serve on the History Council of New South Wales. Outside of Uni, he continued to teach Primary Ethics at his local public school, and serves as Secretary and Registrar of his daughter’s softball club.  

Kirsten McKenzie: while acting as our chair, spearheading the hiring of two new full-time Department members and a new three-year appointment, and wrangling us all into order, Kirsten managed to get an article accepted by the English Historical Review, co-written with Lisa Ford, “A Dance of Crown and Parliament: Empire and Reform in the Age of Liverpool.”

Jess Melvin: this year, Jess’s book, The Army and the Indonesian Genocide: Mechanics of Mass Murder (2018) was translated into Indonesian and will be launched at the end of this year or early next. As part of the launch, BBC Indonesian has filmed a TV special on the book, interviewing Jess as well as sending a reporter to Aceh to meet some of her interviewees and visit some of the places she mentions. She has co-edited a forthcoming book with Sri Lestari Wahyuningroem and Annie Pohlman, The Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Indonesia’s Culture of Impunity (ANU Press). She has co-written two articles for this work: ‘Achieving “Justice”: The KKR-Aceh’s Search for Accountability’, co-authored with Indri Fernida, Sri Lestari Wahyuningroem and Annie Pohlman; and ‘“Unknown People” (OTK) Attacks in Bener Meriah, 1999-2003, co-authored with Azhari Aiyub. In addition, she has completed several articles this year: ‘Crimes Against Humanity in Indonesia, 1956-66’, co-authored with Annie Pohlman, for Oxford Handbook of Atrocity Crimes (Oxford); and ‘The Role of Detention Camps and the Order to Annihilate during the Indonesian Genocide’, in Detention Camps in Asia. (Brill), all of which will be coming out in 2022. Jess is a member of the editorial team working on the Aceh Truth and Reconciliation’s Final Report, which will be submitted to the Indonesian government in December. In this role, she helped write two chapters of the final report: ‘Torture’, co-authored with Annie Pohlman, Putri Kanesia, and Nick Dobrijevich; and ‘Enforced Disappearances,’ with Annie Pohlman, Faisal Hadi, Linda Christanty and Firdaus Yusuf, both of which analyse 5,000 original eyewitness testimonies collected by the Commission between 2017-2021. She recorded a podcast, ‘The International People’s Tribunal for 1965 and the Indonesian Genocide’, for New Books in Genocide Studies with co-authors Saskia Wieringa and Annie Pohlman with Kelly McFall in January 2021. And she gave three conference papers: at the Australian Historical Association Conference in December, the Indonesia Council Open Conference in July, and the Association of Asian Studies Annual Conference in March.

Pamela Maddock: has an article accepted by Gender and History for publication in 2022. She is currently working on a book manuscript based on her thesis, as well as an additional article on an 1853 court martial case which many of you will remember as the topic of Pam’s recent History on Wednesday presentation in the Department. While parenting during lockdown, Pam has coordinated multiple undergraduate units: a core unit in American Studies, ‘American Dreams,’ a second year July intensive, ‘Sex Race and Rock,’ and a third year USSC unit ‘Dissent and Protest: Social Movements,’ as well as tutoring in workshops in FASS3999. For 2022, she has designed a new unit for the American Studies Major, ‘Climate Crisis in America.’ She has published a book review in the Journal of the History of Sexuality and written several pieces of public commentary around responses to the pandemic; one for online magazine, The Drift, and the other for the ABC’s Religion and Ethics website.

Briony Neilson: As well as teaching units in History and French Studies at Sydney and UNSW, in 2021 Briony signed a contract with McGill-Queen’s University Press for a scholarly monograph examining the history of criminal responsibility and juvenile justice reform in Third Republic France. The book will be part of their States, People, and the History of Social Change series. In 2020 and 2021 she held an Australia-France Social Science Collaborative grant, awarded by the Embassy of France and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia for research into the history and heritage of the French penal colony in New Caledonia. In 2021 shecurated an exhibition (in French) at the Site historique de l’Île Nou in Noumea, New Caledonia, which traced connections between the convict and colonial histories of Australia and New Caledonia. She contributed book reviews to H-France Reviews and History Australia, and has a chapter forthcoming in Framing the Penal Colony, edited bySophie Fuggle, Charles Forsdick and Katharina Massing, under contract with Palgrave. She contributed an episode on ‘Contagion and Confinement in the New Caledonian Bagne,’ for the ‘Podcasts from the Bagne’ series based at Nottingham Trent University in the UK. In 2021 she presented papers at the Australian Society for French Studies conference at the University of Queensland and at Institute for the Study of French-Australian Relations symposium at RMIT. In 2020 she presented a paper at the conference of the US Society for French Historical Studies and the George Rudé Seminar; gave public lectures hosted by the University of Sydney (Australia) and the Site historique de l’Île Nou (New Caledonia), and at the University of London Institute in Paris; and presented to a seminar of HDR students on the history of crime at the EHESS in Paris. Since 2019 Briony has been editor of French History and Civilization, the George Rudé Society’s peer-reviewed journal. In 2020 she edited a Festschrift for Peter McPhee, and took part in a roundtable discussion on publishing at the Society for French Historical Studies conference and the George Rudé Seminar. In 2021 she edited volume 10 of FHC (selected papers from the combined conferences of the Society for French Historical Studies and the George Rudé Seminar). In addition to her academic work, Briony also works as a freelance copy editor for academic and trade publishers. Among the various titles she copyedited in 2021 were Julie Kalman & Ruth Balint’s Smuggled: An illegal history of journeys to Australia and Chris Bonnor & Tom Greenwell’s Waiting for Gonski: How Australia failed its schools, both with NewSouth Press. Finally, in one of the most satisfying developments of the post-Covid moment (and in order to circumvent the disconnections and disruptions prompted not only by the pandemic but also by precarity), she initiated an online discussion group for French-speaking researchers interested in the history of crime, policing and incarceration. The monthly online meetings bring together scholars from Europe, North America and Australasia for sharing work-in-progress and discussing published research. These meetings will continue in 2022 – any French-speaking colleagues interested in joining are welcome to get in touch with Briony for details.

Andres Rodriguez: Andres’s new book, Frontier Fieldwork: Building a Nation on China’s Borderlands, 1919-45 was completed this year and will be published in 2022 with UBC press. He secured an Australian Academy of the Humanities Publication Subsidy Grant and a Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Publication Subsidy Grant to defray the costs of this work. While undertaking one of our most demanding coordination roles—running our Honours Program in History—Andres also created a new senior seminar in Asian History, based around an innovative assessment model that relies on student-led preparation of primary sources for each class along with a curatorial essay. Using his teaching relief award earlier this year he completed Burmese Level 1 at ANU and got a HD. Having moved to the Blue Mountains a few years ago, Andres dealt with homeschooling during this year of endless lockdown, while settling a family of nine chickens in his backyard. 

Hélène Sirantoine: As well as teaching and giving papers, Hélène has had articles accepted in the top journals in her field: “Mountains of Doom and Mountains of Salvation: Topographies of Conflict in the Early Medieval Latin Chronicles of Iberia,” in the Journal of Medieval History, 47:3 (June 2021); and a 27,000 word article: “Cartularization and Genre Boundaries: Reflection on the Non-Diplomatic Material of the Toledan Cartularies,” in Speculum.

Glenda Sluga: Was made a fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales this year. She published The Invention of International Order (Princeton, 2021); wrote an essay on nationalism in an American Historical Review forum (in press); an afterward for a special issue on business internationalism in Business History (in press); an afterward for Nationalism and Internationalism, ed. Pasi Ihalainen (in press); an afterward for a special issue Gendering Jewish Inter/Nationalism; an essay on F.M. Stawell in Women in International Thought, ed. P. Owens and K. Rietzler, (Oxford), which won two International Studies Association prizes; an essay “Global Austria,” in Remaking Central Europe, ed. P. Becker and N. Wheatley (Oxford); an introduction to a H-Diplo Roundtable; an introduction to McGill Beatty Lectures (McGill Press); and an essay in Remaking Central Europe (Oxford). She is editor with P. Jackson and W. Mulligan for a new volume on Peacemaking and International Order after World War One (CUP, in press); with K.Darian-Smith and M.Herren on Sites of International Memory (Penn, in press); and an essay in a special issue of Central European History with Ben Huf and Sabine Selchow (in press). Along with Sabine Selchow, she secured a contract with Cambridge University Press for Rewriting the History of Global Economic Thought. She has been an invited speaker or discussant at several panels at the University of Vienna, at the International Law and the League of Nations and the Max Planck, Frankfurt, a Deglobalization Workshop in Vienna, as well as at the Pierre du Bois Conference, IHEID. She gave book talks at RU/Humboldt’s Global History Seminar; Cambridge, Modern European History seminar; and Queen Margaret University’s global history seminar. She gave the anniversary lecture at the Sweden National Graduate School in History and has been a discussant in numerous seminars at the European University Institute, in addition to keynotes at the Hague’s summer school, a public lecture and master class at Utrecht/Amsterdam, and a lecture at the University of Shanghai. As well, she has presented work or been a discussant in 2021 at AKHF’s seminar, Peace and Gender; GRIMSE UPF seminar, the Humanitarian Reconstruction conference in Paris, an International Law Journal event, a Cambridge MEH seminar, the American Society for Environmental History, ESSCHE session in Leiean, and the Intellectual History Working group at EUI, and taught seminars at the EUI, run a summer school, and career days for Usyd and EUI phDs, and led a Centre of Excellence application with the ARC, as well as acted on PhD vivas at the Sorbonne, Oslo, Amsterdam, and is now on the European Research Council committee for their European grants.

Sophie Loy Wilson: received a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) for “Chinese Business: Economic and Social Survival in White Australia, 1870-1940,” to start next year. Amidst teaching and service on the Research Committee with Cindy, as well as parenting in lockdown, she published “Daisy Kwok’s Shanghai: Life in China before and after 1949,” in K. Bagnall and JT. Martínez (eds.), Locating Chinese Women: Historical Mobility between China and Australia (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2021); and co-edited, with Hannah Forsyth, a special issue of Labor History: A Journal of Labour and Social History 121:1 (2021), as well as writing the introduction. She also appeared as an expert on Who Do You Think You Are?

Emeritus Faculty Members & Honorary Associates

Robert Aldrich: retired from the department at the end of last year. Since then, he has published ‘Kingdoms, Empires and the French Republic: Colonisers and Indigenous Monarchs in the Asia-Pacific’, History Australia, Vol. 18, Issue 2, 2021; ‘From the French East India Company to the French in the “Indo-Pacific,”’  French Australian Review, No. 70 (2021), (his keynote  address at the 35th anniversary symposium of the Institute for the Study of French-Australian Relations). He submitted a 200,000 word manuscript, written with Andreas Stucki, and commissioned by Bloomsbury, The Colonial World: A History of European Empires, 1780s to the Present and is now awaiting reports. Along with Cindy McCreery and Falko Schnicke, he has worked on an edited collection on Global Royal Families, which will be published by Oxford. This work contains a chapter that Robert has written as well as contributions by scholars in Britain, Germany, Spain, India, and the United States. In addition, he has written four short pieces for Queer Spaces: An Atlas of LBGTQI+ Places and Stories, edited by Adam Nathaniel Furman and Joshua Mardell, now in press with the Royal Institute of British Architects in London, along with several book reviews. Robert still acts as an associate supervisor for several PhD students in History. He was elected this year to Chair of the Advisory Board of The French Australian Review.

Ann Curthoys: In recognition of her outstanding contribution to the profession, Ann was awarded an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) this year. She is a member of the team which was awarded the Margaret Medcalf Prize by the State Library of Western Australia, for the collection The Carceral Colony, ed. by Jenny Gregory and Louis Marshall, published in 2020, which included her essay “The Beginnings of Transportation in Western Australia: Banishment, Forced Labour and Punishment at the Aboriginal Prison on Rottnest Island before 1850”. Along with Catherine Kevin and Zora Simic, she was a awarded an ARC Discovery Grant for A History of Domestic Violence in Australia, 1850 – 2020 in the last round. In terms of publications, this year saw Ligature Press reissue Ann’s For and Against Feminism, originally published by Allen & Unwin in 1988, now as a digital edition with a new introduction. Similarly, her article ‘History from Down Under: E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class and Australia,” was reprinted in Antoinette Burton and Stephanie Fortado (eds), Histories of a Radical Book: E. P. Thompson and The Making of the English Working Class(New York: Berghahn, 2020). Ann also participated in: ‘Histories of a Radical Book: A Roundtable Conversation on Empire, Colonialism, and E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class,’ with Antoinette Burton, Stephanie Fortado, Clare Anderson, Caroline Bressey, Isabel Hofmeyr, and Utathya Chattopadhyaya, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, 22:2 (2021), and wrote reviews for Victorian Studies and Australian Historical Studies.

Sheila Fitzpatrick: published White Russians, Red Peril: A Cold War History of Migration to Australia (Black Inc./Latrobe University Press) in April.  The Russian translation is under contract with Corpus AST, Moscow. Her new book, The Shortest History of the Soviet Union, will be published by Black Inc. in Australia in March 2022, and co-published by Old Street Publishing in the UK, and Columbia UP in North America. Foreign editions are under contract with Alpina Non-Fiction (Russian), Presença (Portuguese), Bompiani (Italian), Academia (Czech), and Todavia (Portuguese, Brazil). Sheila has also published a number of articles this year: “Migration of Jewish ‘Displaced Persons” from Europe to Australia after the Second World War: Revisiting the Question of Discrimination and Numbers” Australian Journal of Politics and History 67:2 (2021); “Hough and History,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian history 22:3 (2021); “Wanda Court” The Top Paddock, online magazine of the Menzies Australia Institute, London, 13 October (reprinted in ANU Australian Studies Institute Bulletin 20, 2021); “The Prodigal’s Return. Voluntary Repatriation from Displaced Persons’ Camps in Europe to the Soviet Union, 1949-50,” Cahiers du monde russe 62/4 (2021), and “The Women’s Side of the Story: Soviet Displaced Persons and Postwar Repatriation,” Russian Review (forthcoming, 2022). She co-organized a conference with Joy Damousi and Ruth Balint, “Migrant Departures” at ACU Melbourne in May, as well as delivering a paper at this conference. She gave multiple other papers by zoom this year: “Half settled: Russians in Harbin and Shanghai during the Second World War,” delivered on zoom at international conference “Statelessness: Refugees in Asia and the Pacific during the Second World War” (Duke Kunshan University, China); “Postwar Russian Immigrants, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Cold War” for symposium with Joy Damousi on “Cold War Immigrants, Left, Right and the Orthodox Church” for Greek History and Culture Seminar at Melbourne University; “Resettle, Repatriate or Remain: Soviet Displaced Persons in Germany and their Options in the Early Cold War,” History Faculty Seminar, ANU, as Allan Martin Lecturer for 2021; “Displacement after the Second World War and the formation of the ‘Second Wave’ Emigration,” Columbia University, New York; “Soviet Displaced Persons and their Options (Repatriation, Resettlement, and Remaining), 1949-52,” at a conference on “Displaced Persons und heimatlöse Ausländer’, Osnabrück University, Germany; and ‘Writing the history of a “finished” state’ for the AHA conference, UNSW. She published 3 review articles in London Review of Books, 2 reviews in Australian Book Review and was Australian Book Review ‘Critic of the Month’ in September. Her additional opinion pieces appeared in Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Brisbane Times, ABC Religion and Ethics, and The Conversation. And she did radio interviews with 2GB, Radio National, Late Night Live, Between the Lines, SBS Radio Russian Programme, Pulse, Triple R, ABC Brisbane, and Saturday Extra.

Judith Keene: in the recent past, Judith has published ‘Amirah Inglis: Activist, Historian and Friend,’ in Ken Inglis’s festschrift, I Wonder: The Life and Work of Ken Inglis, Peter Browne and Seumas Spark, ed. ((Monash University Publishing); “The Spanish International Brigadier as Veteran and Foreign Fighter”, for an invited roundtable in Contemporary European History; and “Prólogo”, Per Imerslund: Un Voluntario  Noruego en la Guerra Civil Española by Mariano Gonzalez Campo (Madrid: Sierra Norte  Editores). In 2021, she was an invited participant (on Spanish Falange) in a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council project on European Fascist Movements with workshops and an exhibition “This Fascist Life” at Weiner Holocaust Museum, London. She also wrote ‘Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, Founder of Spanish Fascism,’ for a 2 volume study relating to this project that will be published by Routledge next year. She worked (with others) on an exhibition & catalogue, ‘Art and Activism in the Nuclear Age: From Hiroshima to Now,’ for the Tin Sheds Gallery, University of Sydney, which was rescheduled due to lockdowns and will now open for four weeks in April 2022. She is currently working on an updated edition of Australian nurses’ diaries in the Spanish Civil War, which will be published next year with Clapton Press, UK.

Mark McKenna: From January until April 14, 2021 when he took a VR, Mark was preoccupied with various goings on as Chair of Department. His latest book, Return to Uluru, written before he became Chair of Department but held back because of Covid, was published in March by Black Inc. Since April, he has given many talks and interviews on the book. It has been widely reviewed (in The Guardian, The Australian, SMH, ABR, The Conversation, Inside Story, The MonthlyAustralian Historical Studies, and several other publications online) A few weeks ago, he signed a contract with Madman/Thirdman films, who have bought the film option for the book. Return to Uluru will also be published by Penguin in the US next June, and it will soon be translated into Polish with other translations possible after the book appears in North America. He has also signed a contract to write a Short History of Australia. In the meantime, he has continued writing reviews and essays.

Roy MacLeod: was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2020 for services to Education and History. He is the creator of ‘The Pacific Circle,’ a Scientific Commission of the Division of History and Science and Technology of the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science, which encourages studies in the international and global history of discovery and research across the Pacific islands, from the Arctic to the Antarctic and along the Pacific Rim. The Circle has recently extended its membership to the Indo-Pacific and serves a network of about 400 scholars and libraries across Europe, Asia, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Its journal, The Pacific Circle Bulletin, is today managed and edited from Honolulu. Roy is a senior member of the organization’s Council. This year and last, he helped to organize the Pacific Circle’s contribution to the International Congress of the History of Science (Prague) and drafted a new Council to serve for the next quadrennium. In February, Roy was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Sussex, England for services to interdisciplinary and international research and higher education in Arts and Science. Between January and August, with the support of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, he devised and helped organise a nine-session digital webinar series, engaging 40 experts and students in conversation across a range of subjects likely to inform ‘Australia’s Future in Space’. The series, which ran for four weeks, mapped relevant work in Indigenous Studies, literature, sociology, anthropology, cosmology, international law, and biological, medical and agricultural systems, and explored foreseeable developments in defence and industry – all from thematic, epistemic and employment perspectives related to the humanities and social sciences. At the invitation of the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S), he delivered a virtual paper, retrospect on ‘Fifty Years of Social Studies of Science’, in which he traced the foundation and early years of what has become one of the leading journals in the field, and among the two most highly journals cited in its Thomson-Reuters Index category. As in earlier years, he has served as an assessor for ARC applications and for the European Science Foundation. He has refereed manuscripts submitted to the Journal of Australian History, Isis, and the British Journal of the History of Science, and commented on books manuscripts submitted to Cambridge University Press and other publications. Two of his earlier books—Disease, Medicine and Empire (Routledge, 1989), and Technology and the Raj (Sage, 1995) will be reissued next year. He continues to advise the Royal Society of NSW on aspects of his history and program for its Learned Academy Forums and for its Bicentennial history. He has advised the Executive Director of the Sydney Nanto Institute and assisted in the development of the Nano-Health program at the Nano Hub and is an honorary member of the Catalyst in Innovation Studies, sponsored by the Sydney Nano Institute and the Sydney business School.

Penny Russell: Since retiring in April, Penny has been chipping away at three projects: a collaborative ARC project on juries, justice and citizenship in Australia, a chapter on colonialism and modern sexuality for a multi-volume Cambridge World History of Sexuality, and her book on Sydney in the mid-nineteenth century as encountered by the emigrant family of Thompsons, her ancestors. The main subject of this book, Joseph Thompson, came unexpectedly into view when his grave was uncovered under Central Station during excavations for Sydney Metro in 2019. In November this year his remains were at last reinterred, following a ceremony at the Pitt St Uniting Church attended by many descendants. Penny wrote a biographical essay about Thompson for the occasion and spoke at the service, which was featured on Channel 9 news. She has written one book review for ABR, which has been selected for release on ABR Podcast, and has another in train. She has also joined the national Women’s Working Party of the Australian Dictionary of Biography which advises on the inclusion of more female subjects in the ADB, and has been invited to join the board of Australian Historical Studies as a book review editor in 2022.

Music, Craic and Home: An Oral History of The Gaelic Club’s Social Role

Irish traditional music being played at a Friday night session at The Gaelic Club.

The project I’ve been developing is an oral history project exploring the social role of The Gaelic Club both today and historically, with an understanding that this history can be explored through the recollections and memories of those who have participated in the club over the years. The project speaks to the sheer diversity of Sydney’s Irish community and traditional musicians – participants were from across a range of ages from their 20s through to their 80s, had different conceptions of ‘home’, and participated in the space for many different reasons. This format included the role of The Gaelic Club as a social hub in which people would meet and get chatting – but also its role as a bustling dancehall, as a place Irish immigrants could find work, a spot to seek music lessons, engage in political discussions and as a central nexus of the city’s traditional music scene.

This range of uses initially left me unsure how to understand the place – was The Gaelic Club a pub? The club’s community management and the number of other roles it served left the appraisal of the centre as a pub feeling inadequate. The space was also more than just a cultural centre – it serves as a lively and vibrant aspect of Sydney’s night life. It is more than just a space for the Irish in Australia, with a key focus on the diversity of those interested in the space and a management team willing to preserve that.  

Speaking to people whose lives were bound up with The Gaelic Club also allowed for the exploration of the issues these people were facing at the time. People situated the history of the club among many other dynamics of Sydney history – generational shifts in migration patterns, changing laws around nightlife and alcohol consumption, the impact of Covid, property development pressures on traditional music and the decline of other immigrant clubs and community organisations. The oral format allows people’s understandings of The Gaelic Club to be told in their words, in their cadence, with room for participants to shape the course of the interview. 

The centring of interviewee participation was also aided by the style of interview – a series of semi-structured interviews were conducted – a few key areas, such as introductions to the club and reasons for attending were asked to everyone, without the questions locking participants into a predetermined narrative. I introduced myself to most interviewees at The Gaelic Club on the first night of reopening after the 2021 lockdown, and managed to spend time with and speak to many participants prior to the interview. Seeking to meet participants where they were comfortable, interviews were conducted where preferable for the interviewee – some were conducted in side rooms at The Gaelic Club on a Friday night, capturing the essence of the session – others were conducted elsewhere or over zoom in order to find a balance that best suited those the project was for.

They were also conversational – rather than an interview as interrogation, those conducted included some back and forth conversation. My voice has been reduced a little in the editing, but a conversational approach was appropriate for the way stories are transmitted in Irish communities and I think facilitated rapport and comfort among participants. The most interesting interviews in retrospect were two interviews in which two people were spoken to together – this allowed them to relax a little more, allowed me to take a step back and their voices flowed a little more naturally – in future, I think it’s a model that could be really useful, and I plan to conduct even more interviews with Gaelic Club patrons in future – it has developed into a real passion project.  

Despite a history of contests over the social role of The Gaelic Club for the next generations, the consensus among many still involved with the club is that it is beginning to emerge into a new high period with greater youth participation, bound together in many accounts by a focus on traditional music. While Irish language, dance, history and music have all been noted as key roles for The Gaelic Club, the traditional music sessions seem particularly central to the club’s current social role, in much the same way that the dances may have been during the 1970s.  

The project has been inspired by previous historical work with the Irish National Association, though seeks to make a fresh contribution to the scholarship. Projects such as A Lifetime of Stories, a series of oral histories of Irish seniors in Sydney, and Sydney Irish Histories, oral histories of Sydney’s Irish community from the mid-20th century drew on the tradition of oral histories in Irish culture and among the Irish in Australia, and highlighted the relevance of such an approach to the communities I’m working with. The history of the Irish National Association in Australia has been explored by historians in the 2020 book To Foster an Irish Spirit: The Irish National Association of Australasia 1915-2015, but The Gaelic Club specifically as a space has not received the same attention. This project wanted to focus on the role of the space itself from the mid-20th century, to be explored through the lives and experiences of those who have been bound up with the club. These works all greatly informed the shape that this project would ultimately take, and it seeks to add to the contributions of pre-existing scholarship. 

If there is a key central argument that emerges, it is that there is no one-clear cut history of The Gaelic Club that emerges victorious – much like people’s reasons for coming, people’s conceptions of the club’s history vary significantly, though key trends were senses of familiarity, the centrality of community, an essential home of traditional music and a hopeful return to the success and business of the venue’s heyday before financial troubles hit. Rather than seeking to be the unquestioned history of The Gaelic Club, this project seeks to share many of the histories existing in the understandings of the club’s patrons.  

When first embarking on the project, I assumed that those who would benefit most from the project may be The Gaelic Club board – those with some level of vested interest in the club’s continued success. At the end, now, I think the project is at least as much for those I spoke with – people, Irish and otherwise who have engaged with the Gaelic Club in different senses and in many different periods of the city’s history, many of whom have a deep sentimental attachment both to the building and to the continually evolving social role it has played and continues to play. One respondent evoked a parallel to The Cobblestone, a Dublin pub central to traditional music that received a development proposal – the potential ephemerality of the space was not unnoticed, and this compounded my understanding of the need to tribute its history through the project, but also led me to believe quite strongly in the need for The Gaelic Club as a hub for Irish music in the centre of a Sydney increasingly run by developers. The hope is not just to serve as a tribute, but to preserve the space’s 20th century history for future generations, to showcase the continued diversity of the club and as a testament to the ordinary people who have built the role of the space.  

The interviews have been brought together into four sound files, which will likely be uploaded to the website of the Irish National Association. The files are sorted by theme, dealing with people’s arrival at the club, their reasons for attending at first, the ways the space and its role have changed and how it functions in people’s lives today. Hopefully through this process, the histories can be widely disseminated and preserved for the communities they seek to tell the story of. It is also hoped that the audio format and conversational language allow the project to be broadly accessible to those with an interest the space, as well as the people and culture that define it. Through the recounting of stories and the sharing of experiences, a history of The Gaelic Club emerges that is deeply personal, that is complex and multifaceted, and that touches many aspects of Sydney life, for those born in Ireland or elsewhere.

Learning English is as easy as A… B… D?

I had the amazing opportunity to collaborate with the Sea Museum and have access a subset collection of radio booklets called, For New Australians (1957/1958). These were government issued booklets that were accompanied by a live radio broadcasted that aired every Saturday in the morning and afternoon. Researching on the radio booklets and migration in Australian in 1950s took me on a grand adventure, from the online archives of  Trove and ABC to the hike from Martin Place station to the NSW State Library. In my university life, I have never undertaken research quite like this because I felt like what I was doing mattered.

The main argument of this blogpost is to inform and emphasise to everyday Australians that our history of migrants learning the English language is extremely niche. I hope to show that although the booklets were published in the period where the White Australia policy was slowly vanishing, its residual impact on the general populace of Australia remained. In my research into migration and the White Australia policy, it was evident that our immigration programs were highly planned and targeted a specific type of people. Indeed my research has indicated that non-European migrants, particularly Chinese people were migrating to Australia in the same period. To further add, there were exclusionary practices within the immigration policy that ensured that Australia continued to take in mostly European people.  The very fact that Australia Government still continued to perpetuate the White Australia ideology is evident through the radio booklets and its aim to assimilate European migrants. The illustrations and dialogues show listeners/readers the types of people that were welcome here. 

The For New Australians (1957/1958) booklet was my main source of evidence for my project that I used to illustrate arguments that were made. The background research conducted on immigration policy was used to inform me on the nature of the society in 1950s Australia and helped frame my argument on the White Australia Policy and the ideology of assimilation. Due to the niche nature of the topic, I searched Trove to find newspapers articles on the For New Australians (1957/1958) booklets/programme, which furthered my understanding in the different ways that migrants learnt English, as well as the intended aims and the nature of the live radio broadcast. Also, my research on the author of the booklets, Elvira Hogg led me on a archival adventure of who she was as a person. I experienced great limitation regarding detailed research into who she was, thus it was required to construct her persona through the writing of others.

The underlying theme of the project was to share with my audience the missing pieces in our collective memory of Australia’s migration history through the radio booklets. This helped me develop my argument that the White Australia policy greatly influenced the lives of migrants and teaching them English was a form of assimilating them into the Australian way of life. Furthermore, the inclusion of excerpts of the scripts in my blogpost provided tangible evidence that strengthened my argument.

There is a need for Australians to understand their migrant history as the present-day Australia would not have existed without immigration. The blogpost serves to reminisce about the past policy of the Australian government to assimilate new arrivals into the Australian way of life. Learning English was a way to indoctrinate migrants into being Australian rather than an acceptance of who they were as individuals with a different language, culture and history. I hope the language of my blogpost is easy to understand for my audience (age 12+) and provides a snapshot into the life of a migrant who learnt English in the 1950s using radio lessons.

Through the publication of the For New Australian (1957/1958) blogpost on the Sea Museum website, people will have a richer understanding of Australia’s complex immigration history. This work was necessary to bridge the gap in everyday Australians’ understanding of post-war migrations. Our current school history curriculum only briefly covers the fact that migrants had to learn English in Australia. The depth of Australia’s post-war migrant history is largely missing the experiences of how non-English migrants had to learn English, which was readily available to them through various schemes organised by the government. 

I honestly believe that the creativity of the project is lacking compared to my peers who are completing podcasts, interviews and creating cool videos. Due to the constraints of timing and the needs of the organisation, a blogpost was the best project for this unit. I wanted to include original audio recordings from the radio broadcast, however I am still awaiting a response from the ABC Archives who I have been in contact with. Instead, I’ve decided to include a brief recording of the script that was completed with the aid of people around me. The quality of the recordings was hindered by logistical factors such as gathering people together to record and finding the right person. Hence, the scripts were carefully selected to ensure that I could do my best with the individuals available to complete the recordings. 

I have linked the recordings below for those that want to hear it. 

For New Australians #92, Jan 1957, p. 7 

For New Australians #92, Jan 1957, pp. 18-20

For New Australians #108, May 1958 pp. 18-19 

The work will be presented through a blogpost that would be (hopefully) published in the Sea Museum website. Peter was phenomenal to collaborate with as he provided me with the freedom and flexibility of taking the lead on what I wanted to explore. Through much thought, it was decided that a blogpost would be the best option for the both of us. The limited word count and mode of the blogpost form was very challenging. However, for the aim of project which was to inform and garner more awareness of the history these booklets have captured, I believe that the blogpost form was very suitable. 

My work will be highly accessible to its intended audience as it will be hosted on the Sea Museum’s official website. I hope that recordings of the script would be also included in the blogpost as I believe it will further engage my audience and allow them to experience having a radio lesson. Furthermore, I will share with my History teaching colleagues the primary sources booklet that I have collated based on 1950s newspaper articles on Australia’s migration and For New Australians radio booklet.

The fact that it will be posted on the Sea Museum website will ensure that my work will be freely available for people who are exploring the online site. Also as a History teacher, I could use the source booklet that I have created in my own classes on Australia’s migration.

Below is a short preview of the blogpost, which is still in the drafting phase.

I just really want to thank Peter Hobbins for providing me with an opportunity to work with such rich primary sources. I feel so much more educated about our migrant history and will endeavour for my future students know about this part of our history. 

Personally these radio booklets unearthed long forgotten feelings and memories of being in a new country and having to learn a new language. My earliest memory of Australia was being in a Kindergarten classroom and having difficulties in understanding my teacher. I positioned myself as Paul, the main character of these booklets as he tries to learn English and understand the Australian way of life. In fact while I was scouring through these booklets and researching on the topic, I could not help but think of a song that many of us know. 

We are one
But we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We’ll share a dream
And sing with one voice
I am, you are, we are Australian.

The Seekers (1987)

The radio booklets made me deeply reflect on Australia as a nation and how it has changed from one that was excluded the masses to one that can be truly called multicultural.

Food for Thought: The History of Chinese Cuisine in Australia

My Website! Check it out!

Note: It is a work in progress, and domain will change later too.


The experience of working on this project has made me fall even deeper in love with history – the feeling leaves me swindled and woozy and happy and proud. I feel the heroism that a historian earns from playing a part in preserving and sharing stories. I’ve finally made a mark by delivering a somewhat historic permanence to the stories I’ve shared, keeping them from being lost to the oblivion of fading memory. It’s impossible to articulate the emotions, but it is the feeling of having achieved one’s purpose.


The key argument underlying the project’s development and presentation is the idea that there is value in small, localised histories, as these stories are highly demonstrative of the wider narrative attributed to immigrants adapting to their new, foreign contexts over time. The stories and histories of these individuals, despite their worth, are unfortunately often forgotten, fading away from memory – as such, the project is an attempt to preserve a part of these histories in the stories attached to each of the featured community-submitted recipes. The essence of the project is also its ability to dispel the illusion that dishes adapted to westernised palates are not a part of our culture. I wanted to ensure that these dishes are viewed rather as a testament to the history of those who have moved to a foreign country and adapted to their circumstances. The dishes of Chinese-Australian cuisine do not represent a singular entity, as its adaptations over time now make it a beautifully intertwined mixture of two distinctly different cultures.


The project, as it highlights different personal experiences with the recipes, allowed me to shift my focus significantly towards oral histories as my primary sources. The oral histories were collected in the form of short interviews – either through face-to-face or online meetings. I had planned to reach out to members of the Chinese Heritage Association of Australia – however it was difficult for this to come to fruition in such a short time span. I had to discover alternatives to find members of the community that were willing to participate in the project. I found some success with posting on social media, asking friends and co-workers, and visiting the 89 Billiards Club, a mah-jong and pool hall that my grandfather frequents, which in retrospect could have been a great organisation to explore the history of.


The highlighted personal histories of each of the dishes that I found from my participants was also supplemented with information from secondary sources, such as websites, articles, and book chapters that focused on contextualising the origins of these foods in China, and their change in taste and popularity in Australia. The secondary sources with the most benefit to the project had to be Nichol’s article written about ‘cookshops’ present in the early gold-rush era, which inspired the addition of a page dedicated to this early food history. I also found Tong’s discussion of the adaptation of different dishes to suit westernised palates to be extremely useful in arguing against the ‘inauthenticity’ of the recipes that were provided, arguing that these dishes are rather a testament to the adaptability of our culture and the effects of living in a different society. I was also able to use personal culinary knowledge as a source to draw from to describe the dishes in comparisons to highlight the changes derived from existing in a different geographical context with a much different palate.


The idea for this project was to make the histories of the community more accessible to all, rather than with a journal article or essay that limits the audience significantly. The dishes and recipes featured on the website, as food is a universal language, can be a gateway into exposure to the interesting and personal nature of family and community histories. I am estimating for the cookbook, once published on the organisation’s website, to have an audience consisting predominantly of older members of the community, as this is the current demographic for interest in the Chinese Heritage Association of Australia. I would like to promote the website further through social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook to ensure that the cookbook receives the traffic it deserves from younger audiences as well. I feel that the project will be a way to express and highlight the value of preserving the smaller histories generally forgotten with time, demonstrating that these histories hold individual significance while simultaneously constructing the wider narrative of immigration, life in a foreign country, and the inevitable cultural change that comes as a result.


The project that had been envisioned was one that was accessible for all members of society, in both the context of audience, as well as geographical location. The history of the community that we are sharing is unfortunately not explored enough, as in both primary and high schools, the country’s history is shown as dichotomised and polarised, with only two sides – the subjugated native peoples and their colonial oppressors. I am passionate about the project as I do believe that it is a significant contributor to demonstrating the value in Chinese-Australian histories, and I hope it inspires others similarly. I believe that the project will grow the Chinese Heritage Association of Australia, as it draws in more individuals that will grow to understand the significance of preserving stories from family and community histories.

Our Garden: An oral history documentary

When I started the process of historical engagement with the Randwick Community Organic Garden, I asked a question: what story is the garden telling?

Today, I’m thrilled to be able to show you the answer.

Over close to thirty years, the garden has been telling a story of survival against the odds, unnerving determination, and community bonds as strong as an oak tree.

In order to support the Randwick Community Organic Garden in their two-fold goal of creating stronger community ties and making the case for community gardens in the area, I have produced a short documentary based off oral history interviews conducted with several members, past and present, of the garden.

Tracking the development of the garden from over 20 years ago, to the present day, I tell the story of a small and committed garden community working together to play their part in combatting climate change and creating strong community connections on the way.

There are already histories of the concept of community gardens around the world and in Australia, and there’s even a National Oral History Collection of the Australian Garden History Society.

But this work does something a bit different, I think: it takes the broad conceptual works of the community garden movement and applies it to a specific community garden in a specific context. Also, I’ve taken the sometimes inaccessible oral history format (who really wants to listen to a conversation between strangers for an hour or more? I’m looking at you, podcasters) and assembled my conversations into an accessible, cohesive and complete story line.

I’ve done this by grouping sections of our conversations into key themes:

  • the early days of the garden and the need to relocate following a selloff of their land,
  • the establishment of a new garden
  • the ecological and permaculture foundations of the garden
  • the community within the garden, and the garden’s outreach into the Randwick community
  • the challenges of development and the opportunity of urbanisation

And in all of this, here’s my point: the Randwick Community Organic Garden, like many community gardens across Australia, plays an essential role in cultivating climate-conscious sustainable practices on a local level and creating significant bonds across the community.

This is all to the benefit of my audience, I hope. The audience make up the people who are in the garden currently or in the past, or are looking to join (as this will help give a sense of history and belonging in a time and moment of community) and also a wider group of people who may watch it to understand how a community garden works at all, or are searching for novel ways to build an environmentally-conscious community in an urban area.

If nothing else, I hope people will finish the video with a sense of the joy to be found in investing deeply in people and the world — all for the common good.

Australia’s Indonesian Independence Movement: A past should not be forgotten

For the final research project, I worked with the Australian National Maritime Museum on the topic of Australia’s Indonesian independence movement – a past that shaped Australia’s national identity, but is not known to the Australian public. For the final project, I conducted an oral history interview and wrote a research paper based on the interview and other academic sources. Although the contents of my project are rather conventional, comparing to my fellow classmates’, the topic I discussed was not even a bit less fascinating.

It was in 1945, only two days after the Japanese Emperor announced its surrender, Indonesian nationalists declared the independence of Indonesia, after colonised by the Dutch for three and a half centuries. But the declaration of the independence was not enough, it took the Indonesians four years and countless casualties to achieve their independence. But they were not alone in their fight for independence. Across the Timor Sea, people in Australia were also fighting for Indonesian’s independence in Australia.

Australia’s support for the Indonesian independence movement was significant, not only for an independent Indonesia, but also for the construction of a modern multicultural and independent Australia. Activists in Australia’s Indonesian independence movement came from different cultural backgrounds – Indonesians, Indians, Chinese and Australians. They united together for a shared cause, a rare scene at a time when the White Australia Policy was still in place. In supporting the Indonesian independence, the Australian government under Prime Minister Ben Chifley went against orders from the “Motherland” Britain. This was an important event in Australia’s history, symbolising the separation from its coloniser, and the beginning of an independent Australia, over forty years after the foundation of the Australian Federation.

In order to discuss this past, I conducted an oral history interview with Anthony, an Indonesian Australian, who not only have extensively researched on this topic for over a decade, but also have a personal connection with it. Anthony’s father-in-law, Fred Wong, was a leader of Sydney’s Chinese Australian community in the 1940s, and organised the Chinese Australians’ support for the Indonesian independence movement.

In the research paper, I combined both personal history of Fred Wong and the broader political history at the time, argued that Australia’s support for the Indonesian independence movement was a significant event in Australia’s history that should be known to the Australian public.

Despite the significance of this past, few people – in the Indonesian, Chinese, or the Australian societies – know about it, even academic discussion around this topic is limited. Therefore, I suggested that given museum’s vital role in educating the public and constructing public memory, there should be a permanent exhibition on this past and the activists behind it in a major Australian museum.

Thank you to the Maritime Museum and my interviewee Anthony for introducing me to this fascinating past that is so important to our identity. Thank you to the History Beyond the Classroom unit for the opportunity to explore the world of history outside the university campus.

Redfern Jarjum School: The Final Project


Cultural education and development are critical for students in that they nurture their sense of identity and belonging. Redfern Jarjum School is a relatively new school, established in 2013, and I do not believe there is much widespread knowledge about the school, its aims, or its achievements. Although I have come across a few videos of similar nature, none detail the importance of specialized education for Indigenous children quite like mine. I aimed to focus on the importance of early cultural education and development for Indigenous children, in a way that encompassed aspects of the school’s uniqueness in what it achieves. I believe that the use of a video medium makes for a more personable interview, allowing the viewer to identify the people who are integral to creating the school’s sense of community.


The driving argument behind my project is that there should be more of a focus on educational and community support for Indigenous children from a young age. As highlighted in my project, many Indigenous peoples have poor experiences with education institutions. This is reflected in their inability to trust mainstream schooling systems. Jarjum and other schools of the like create a space where Indigenous children feel seen and heard and their cultural needs are catered for. Mainstream schools and teachers are often unequipped to deal with the trauma Indigenous children carry. This trauma, often intergenerational, is not addressed by mainstream schools where they do not have the training or materials to do so. There is a need for more schools like Jarjum, where teachers are equipped with specialized trauma training and the ability to provide support beyond the school grounds.


I have predominately used primary sources, in the form of statistics and government reports to shape my argument. In so many ways, Australia continues to fail Indigenous peoples and importantly Indigenous children. The education gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous school-aged students supports my argument that Indigenous children do not receive the cultural support they need for their educational development. In 2018 was a difference of 11% between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students’ attendance rates. Attendance rates for Indigenous students fell even further (around 14% difference), when students reach high school. The attendance gap for Indigenous students in regional areas is lower than students in urban areas, which highlights the need for widespread support. I also used short documentaries covering similar topics to not only gain insight into the medium of film but also to understand Indigenous voices and perspectives on the matter.


Throughout my project, I develop themes of cultural consciousness and support. I also look at non-Indigenous peoples creating an inclusive and accessible learning environment for Indigenous peoples both at school and in other institutions. Acknowledging the lasting effects of colonialism such as dispossession and loss of identity creates room to provide support for these issues and address deep-rooted trauma. In the past, educational institutions have been one of the most prominent sites for the silencing of Indigenous voices and culture. For non-Indigenous people in the industry recognizing this can be uncomfortable, and it is often met with ignorance or denial. Jarjum and other culturally conscious institutions, attempt to eliminate further trauma that could be caused by a ‘white’ education, by fostering an environment that privileges the needs and concerns of Indigenous peoples. 


Anyone interested in educating themselves about the importance of cultural consciousness in education, the workplace, and just in general will find my project of use. It could also benefit the school community, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, in generating support for the school and further fundraisers. As the students attend the school at no cost and the teachers are required to undertake specialized trauma training, it is expensive to run. The school currently holds just under 30 children, therefore increasing awareness of the school’s need and how it benefits the community would allow the school to expand in numbers and resources.


Ultimately, my goal is to generate awareness for the need for cultural support in schools. My project can also be used as a tool for parents or other actors in the community to understand more about Jarjum’s role in Indigenous education. In the future, my project could also be used as ‘historical’ documentation. In ten years’, time the school can look back at my video and see where and how the school was running in its first five years. It might also be used by independent schools where many students from Jarjum attend high school on bursaries or scholarships, to strengthen connections where more funding and support may be provided for Indigenous students.


My project is creative in the sense that schools primarily use their website to house their information. Creating a video provided a space for my interviewees to speak in-depth on questions that otherwise might have gone unanswered. Transcribing their responses and adding them to their website was a plan I was initially looking towards. However, I think having an alternative platform to promote the school’s achievements is beneficial. At times creating a video was difficult. I am completely new to the industry, so it was a huge learning curve for me.


I am presenting my project in the form of a short documentary, and it features two interviews with staff members. I wanted to include Indigenous voices in my project, however, I unfortunately was not able to get in touch with any Indigenous community members or teachers from the school. Having no previous connections to the Indigenous community made it difficult, and I was conscious of not forcing anything upon anyone. It had to be completely voluntary, and I lacked time to build the connections that would have been useful in acquiring an Indigenous perspective. Although this does affect my project in the sense that non-Indigenous people are speaking on Indigenous matters, I tried to focus my questions on the school and not cross any cultural boundaries or have my non-Indigenous interviewees speak on matters that would be inappropriate or insensitive to the Indigenous community. The use of video interviews, however, I think helped to put a face to the school and allows the viewer to form a connection to the people I have interviewed. My decision for the presentation of my project also stemmed from oral history, a significant part of Indigenous culture. I wanted to tie in this aspect to my project and a video was the best way to do so.


After submitting my assessment, it is up to the school to choose whether they want to take it further. I am not marketing it as such, I don’t think that is necessary for the type of project I have undertaken, but they may wish to use it as a tool to strengthen community connections or for parents to understand more about their child’s education.


Beyond the life of this unit, I will remain in touch with Jarjum. Ultimately, I would like to upload my project to YouTube with the permission of the school, in hopes it will raise awareness and support for small independent schools that are aiming to close the gap in the education system.

Sydney Harbour YHA and The Big Dig

For my major research project, I have researched and written a brief history of The Rocks in Sydney, and specifically the site of The Big Dig and Sydney Harbour YHA, who are the organisation that I have been working with. My research has briefly canvassed the pre-colonial history of the area, as well as the history from colonial times until the period immediately following WW1. I found this continuity and background to be important for the understanding of my research, especially considering that the intended audience for this piece is both international travellers, and school students.

My research was focussed on the industrial era of The Rocks, whereby the turn-of-the-century, working class neighbourhood was transformed into an area of industry. In this research I explore the impact of the demolition of many dwellings in the area, the Norton Griffiths Machinery and Joinery Works, the City Railway Workshop, as well as the clearing in preparation for the Sydney Harbour Bridge approach. This area of focus was selected because it was of the greatest aid to my organisation. This time period was the one with the least information available, and that my organisation would most like from me, to be able to share with their visitors, both from overseas, and from students on excursions. Crucially, this research aligns with the school student program they run, entitled Shopfront to Western Front.