I’ve included the ASAA citation below. On behalf of the History Department, I’d like to offer Sophie our warm congratulations for such a wonderful achievement.
All best wishes, Mark
John Legge Prize for Best Thesis in Asian Studies (2019)
Winner: Sophie Chao, In the Shadow of the Palms: Plant-Human Relations Among the Marind-Anim, West Papua. (Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University).
In this remarkable thesis, Sophie Chao provides a ground-breaking exploration and analysis of dynamic plant-human-capital relationships in West Papua. The study centres on the devastation wrought by state-sponsored agro-industrial capitalism in the form of oil palm plantations, as experienced and perceived by the Marind-Anim people of Merauke District. Beautifully written, theoretically sophisticated, and deeply empathetic, the study shows how a lethal process of botanical colonization has disrupted existing multispecies networks and reconfigured people’s ways of being in the world. The effects on places, persons, time, and indeed dreams are persuasively explained as interlinked processes of deterritorialization and detemporalization. Rooted in cultural anthropological methods and informed by post-humanist theory, the analytical approach incorporates insights from environmental humanities, science and technology studies, plant science, ethnobotany, political economy and more. The thesis is extremely ambitious in its conceptual and theoretical aims, and required a high degree of political and ethical sensitivity in the associated fieldwork. It has emphatically delivered on all fronts. It seems destined to inform and provoke productive debate over sustainable environmental, economic and social systems, in Indonesia and elsewhere.
Because we may not all get an opportunity to see Miranda before she formally takes up her new post at the University of Otago, I wanted to say a few words before she leaves. It goes without saying that her departure will be a huge loss to the Department, SOPHI and the University.
Miranda started with Warwick Anderson in REGS in August 2012 as one of the first PDRAs in the Laureate program. As Warwick often has said, she proved to be not only a wonderfully engaging and productive colleague and collaborator, she intellectually transformed the program, especially though her ideas about Indigenous racial modernities. It was during this period that she wrote The Land is Our History (2016) and organised a very successful international conference resulting in the co-edited collection Pacific Futures: Past and Present (2018). She worked hard to build programs in Pacific and Indigenous histories in the Department and across the University, a valiant effort she redoubled on taking up a teaching position in the Department in July 2015, where she immediately excelled.
‘The Land Is Our History’ is a superb example of the power of comparative, transnational historical research. It explores indigenous rights movements, from the late 1960s onwards, across three Commonwealth settler states — Canada, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. Miranda Johnson draws on a rich array of source material, including legal cases, petitions, interviews and media reports, to create an engaging and path-breaking book.
In 2018, The Land is Our History was awarded the W.K. Hancock Prize of the Australian Historical Association, and it is worth quoting the citation in full:
Miranda Johnson has produced an ambitious, original and imaginative history exploring land, indigeneity, legal rights and activism across three settler-colonial nations. Thinking transnationally, Johnson explores legal and public discourses to draw together a raft of distinctive events and personalities into a vast and coherent canvas. She weaves nation-based histories of indigenous-settler conflict over land into wider networks and power structures, making sense of seemingly disparate developments in indigenous activism. Archival documents and oral accounts highlight the strength and moral authority of indigenous leaders who worked to gain acknowledgement of traditional ownership of land, and to interrupt and influence public debates around national identity. Johnson writes with precision, flow and economy. The work has a compelling argument, convincingly showing the complex and sophisticated ways indigenous activisms functioned to change settler attitudes towards land and indigenous belonging. An exemplary history, The Land Is Our History brings important new insights to a significant topic in both the past and the present.
I’ll always remember co-teaching ‘Frontier Violence in Modern Memory’ with Miranda in 2017. There’s probably no better way to get to know your colleagues! Working closely with Miranda allowed me to see first-hand what a brilliant teacher and scholar she is. I heard nothing but praise and appreciation from students for her teaching and I picked up quite a few tips watching her lectures from the front row.
Miranda’s commitment to her students, the Department and the broader University community is on graphic display in her recent reflection on online teaching, published online in Meanjin.
It’s a plea for ‘the poetics of in-person classroom teaching, not as a value-added extra for an elite cohort, but as the essence of what we do’. It’s also a reminder of what her students and colleague will miss when she goes.
We need to establish respectful and generative classroom dynamics quickly with and among our students, many of whom do not know each other. These dynamics must be subtly but firmly maintained. How do you draw out the shy ones? Put them in small-groups, often awkward in many of the classrooms we are working in, but achievable if the chairs or tables can be moved around. How do you moderate the domineering over-talker in class? Sit beside them. Make eye contact with everyone during the session, although not too much. Help them be seen. Notice the one who pushes his chair back, angling his body back from the desk, his gaze directed anywhere but here. Bring him back. Watch for the over-anxious, fastidiously taking notes in order to avoid answering questions.
I’m sure that I speak for everyone when I wish Miranda and her family well for their future lives and careers in Aotearoa NZ.
2020 Sydney Research Webinar Series in Higher Education Wednesday 5 August 2020 | 4:00-5:00pm
What do we learn from a history of international students at Australian universities?
To examine this question and others about the social and political economy of international students in Australia since the 1960s, join our second 2020 History of University Life online seminar with panellists Julia Horne, University Historian at the University of Sydney, and Gaby Ramia, Associate Professor in Public Policy at the University of Sydney. We will also hear from international students about their experience in Covid-19 times.
Chaired by Matthew A. M. Thomas, Senior Lecturer in Comparative Education and Sociology at the University of Sydney and co-convenor of History of University Life.
Julia Horne is Associate Professor in the Department of History who works on the history of higher education in Australia from 1850 to the present-day. Her books include Sydney the Making of a Public University (Miegunyah Press, 2012, co-authored with Geoffrey Sherington) and Preserving the Past: The University of Sydney and the Unified National System of Higher Education 1987-96, (Melbourne University Publishing, 2017, co-authored with Stephen Garton). In 1999-2002 she created a substantial archive of in-depth surveys and interviews with international students about their Australian experiences in the 1950s and 1960s (for UNSW Archives).
Gaby Ramia is Associate Professor in Public Policy in the Department of Government and International Relations and Theme Co-Leader, Smart and Working, in the NSW Institute of Public Policy, at The University of Sydney. His books include Governing Social Protection in the Long Term, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) and Regulating International Students’ Wellbeing (Policy Press, 2013, co-authored with Simon Marginson and Erlenawati Sawir). Gaby is currently one of three Chief Investigators on an Australian Research Council funded study on international student housing precarity.
Matthew A.M. Thomas is a senior lecturer in comparative education and sociology of education at the University of Sydney. He has worked as a public school teacher in the United States and as an educational researcher, educator, and consultant in Australia, Mali, Nigeria, Indonesia, Tanzania, and Zambia. His research examines educational policies, pedagogical practices, teachers’ lives, and the changing roles of teacher and higher education institutions. Most recently, Matthew is the co-editor of Examining Teach For All (Routledge, 2020) and the Handbook of Theory in Comparative and International Education (Bloomsbury, 2021).
Future seminar dates for your diary in this special series 23 September @4-5pm 14 October @4-5pm 4 November @4-5pm 2 December @4-5pm
These online seminars are brought to you by History of University Life Sydney Research Seminar in Higher Education. History of University Life began in 2008 as a joint forum between the University of Sydney and St Paul’s college to discuss the history and role of universities in Australian life.
Many thanks for the support of St Paul’s College since 2008. And thanks, too, for the wonderful assistance for the 2020 online series provided by the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney.
For more information about the series please email the History of University Life convenors Click here to email.
Registration The Zoom webinar link will be sent as an email and calendar invite on the Monday prior to the event. If you registered for the entire series when you registered for the last seminar, you won’t need to register again. You will receive an invitation to this webinar automatically. New registration? please click here to RSVP Missed the first seminar? If you missed the first seminar, or would like to watch it again, the webinar in this special series is now available online on the SOPHI talks site.
HUL on Social Media Please use the hashtag #UniKeeper for your social media posts. You can follow the History of University Life on Twitter @HULseminar.
History of University Life II Sydney Research Seminar in Higher Education
You can now listen to and watch a recording of the full session above, here.
On Wednesday 24 June 2020, History of University Life* held its first live online seminar with an audience of 90 people. Professors Ariadne Vromen (ANU) and Susan Goodwin (University of Sydney) joined a panel with University Historian Julia Horne to discuss the importance of public investment in our public universities.
Just days before, the Commonwealth Minister of Education Dan Tehan announced far-reaching changes to HECS fees and university funding for teaching. The announcement prompted the panel to focus even more sharply on what exactly needs to be reformed and why.
Ariadne Vromen argued that we owe young people citizenship, employment and economic security. Ariadne explained that “the individual and social costs of young people’s exclusion from employment and education are profound and long-lasting”. We need as a nation, Ariadne said, to acknowledge that responsibility to create jobs lies with governments, industry and businesses. The government’s idea of “job ready” graduates subverts that greater responsibility.
Susan Goodwin unveiled UniKeeper, the social democratic plan to support public higher education. This plan has 3 planks: more affordable public higher education places; universal income support payments for higher education students and a proper plan to fund the public sector higher education teaching and research workforce.
Only 1 out of 3 university students receive any form of student income support and 82% of university students depend on paid employment to support them while they study.
This last figure is not surprising since Australia’s mass higher education is now one of the largest systems in the world (on the basis of population parity). Susan explained how “in Australia, young people’s citizenship is denied and eroded by enforced financial dependency on families.”
The questions flowed thick and fast. What do young people think? Should student income support be means-tested? How is higher education a public good? Who should lead the discussion on how to reshape higher education? Is ‘job ready’ a useful term in the discussion of higher education? These and more questions will be explored in the rest of this series. See SOPHI Events for further details.
* History of University Life II Sydney Research Seminar in Higher Education. History of University Life began in 2008 as a joint forum between the University of Sydney and St Paul’s college to discuss the history and role of universities in Australian life.
University Education as a Pathway to Employment was held as an online seminar on Wednesday 24 June 2020. Follow the link above for further details about this event including information on the panellists and to sign up for future webinars in this series.
This year we had to adapt to the virtual circumstances of the pandemic, so we celebrated both our Prize and Scholarship winners by holding the Award Ceremony as a Zoom webinar.
The fabulous SOPHI team, working with Tiffany Brittan from FASS, worked incredibly hard to come up with what we believe was a positive, engaging and fun event for our students, their families, and our donors. It was also a pioneering effort for the Faculty, as it was one of the first fully online Prizes night.
Over 135 people joined together to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of our students across the School, including many of our wonderful History students.
The full program, including the award winners from each of the Departments of Archaeology, Classics and Ancient History, Philosophy, Gender and Cultural Studies, and the Scholarships awarded in International and Global Studies, can be found here. The full details of the History prizes listed below, are on pp. 17-19.
Many congratulations to all our Prize and Scholarship Winners.
AE (Tony) Cahill History Prize
Aisling Society of Sydney Prize for an essay on Irish or Irish-Australian History
Australasian Pioneers’ Club Scholarship
Charles Brunsdon Fletcher Prize for Pacific History
Charles Trimby Burfitt Prize for the Study of Australian History Prior to 1900
George Arnold Wood Memorial Prize for History I
George Arnold Wood Memorial Prize for History II
GS Caird Scholarship in History II
Helen Newbon Bennett Memorial Prize for Senior History
History Department Prizes – For an outstanding essay on a subject relating to social justice and/or social inclusion
History Department Prizes – For outstanding work in HSTY3901
History Department Prizes – For outstanding work in HSTY3902
History Department Prizes – For outstanding work in HSTY3903
Isabel M King Memorial Prize for History III
J H M Nolan Memorial Prize for Proficiency in History