Farewell to Dr. Thomas Adams

On Wednesday, September 7, 2021, Dr. Thomas Adams spoke about his role in the Street Re-Naming Commission in New Orleans in the Department of History’s “In Print and in Prospect” seminar series. The Department also bid farewell to Thomas as his resignation brought to an end six years of service at the University of Sydney.

Colleague and friend, Associate Professor Frances Clarke, took the opportunity to say a few words about Thomas’ tenure at Sydney, and his many contributions the Department.

Here is a transcript of Associate Professor Clarke’s speech:

It’s striking to think that Thomas only started work at the University of Sydney in 2014. That means that it has only been 6 years between his arrival here, and his return to the US, right before the pandemic hit. For those 6 years, he worked in both the History Department and the U.S. Studies Center. Given that Thomas worked across these two locations, you might not be aware of all he was during this short period. I’d like to spend a few moments acknowledging some of that work, because it’s a remarkable record. I’ll start with teaching.

From arrival to departure, Thomas taught 12 unique first- and second-year units:

At first year:

Lincoln to Obama

History Workshop: Chicago 1968

At second and third year:

American Social Movements

The History of Capitalism

History and Historians

African American History and life

Law and Order in American History

New Orleans: Disaster, Culture and Identity

The American Studies Capstone Seminar

Foreign Policy, Americanism and Anti-Americanism

Latin American Revolutions

Unnatural Disasters

Some of these were history courses, and others were taught through the U.S. Studies Center. They equate to 2 new units every single semester he was here—a record that is unmatched by any other academic I know. It speaks to Thomas’s breadth of interests and versatility, not to mention his willingness to step into whatever roles needed filling.

In addition to this teaching, he was helping to train our postgraduate students. In 2014, not long after his arrival, he and I ran an American Studies seminar for history graduate students. The following year, we ran a graduate seminar in Historiography and Historical Thought. Then, the next year and the one after, we taught the Finishing the Thesis seminar together. Occasionally, Thomas also ran ad hoc professionalisation seminars for our postgrad students. I watched him in these classes and got to know him well. He was ever whip-smart and inspiring. He enjoyed teaching students—and it showed.

Did Thomas ever seem a bit distracted or frazzled when you ran into him in the hallways? He had plenty on his mind. Let me note a few of the other activities that he was doing for us over those years.

For 2016 and 2017, he worked with me as the History postgraduate coordinator—back then, the largest service role in the department. But, at the same time, he held the position of the Academic Director of the USSC. This is a massive role, equivalent to being department chair, encompassing negotiating staffing contracts, helping set curriculum, and dealing with various issues related to the financing of the Center.

At the same time, he was supervisor or associate supervisor or 5 postgraduate students—most of whom have now finished or are about to do so.

Each year of his tenure here, he also gave a large public lecture. And practically every week he was on radio or TV, discussing American politics (he actually made more than 100 TV and radio appearances in the first 4 years of his work here). At the same time, he was writing for important online fora—including the New Matilda, Jacobin, ABC Online, the Huffington Post, the Australian, CommonDreams, and more.

He was, of course, engaged in academic writing as well—on a book, The Servicing of America: Work and Inequality in the Modern US; an edited collection, Remaking New Orleans: Beyond Exceptionalism and Authenticity, which came out with Duke in 2019, and a range of special issues, book chapters, and articles—15 of these published between 2014 and 2019 to be precise.

From a purely selfish perspective, one of my favourite things that Thomas did while he was here was to connect Americanists in the Southern hemisphere in a way we hadn’t been connected before. Along with Sarah Gleeson-White in the English Department, he applied for a major grant through the Faculty Collaborative Research Scheme, to create the American Cultures Workshop. They located everyone working on any aspect of America, set up a monthly seminar series, and paid to have speakers present work-in-progress. This ran (under new leadership) until the pandemic hit, and it was an unprecedented success. It was particularly helpful, I think, in providing opportunities for our postgraduate students—to give papers; to meet others in the field; to make new colleagues and friends.

Thomas is an enormous loss to the University of Sydney. I will miss Thomas because he was always interesting to talk to. He truly cared for our students. He’s a gadfly—willing to provoke the powers that be. Unsurprisingly, he inspired then. He’s an iconoclast—never just mouthing the latest theories (although he knows them all). He thinks for himself. He’s not just thoughtful, but also irreverent, funny, and warm. We swapped as many cat memes as we did teaching ideas or thoughts about history. He taught me a great deal while he was here, and although I know we’ll stay connected, it won’t be the same.

I’ll add that it is totally typical of Thomas to show up and give a brilliant paper in the immediate aftermath of a devastating hurricane, while looking like he’s doing nothing out of the ordinary. And it’s equally typical for this paper to be about the public and political function of history—on a project that drew in our students and helped them to see what difference history can make in the world beyond the University. This paper spoke more eloquently than anything else of exactly what we’re losing—a remarkable intellect, an engaged teacher, and a wonderful colleague.

The Department of History wishes Thomas all the best in his (many) future endeavours.

History on Wednesday Seminar Series

School of Philosophical and Historial Inquiry
Department of History

The University of Sydney


HoW | History on Wednesday Seminar series
Semester 2, 2021

We hope you will join us for our lastest HoW seminar series.
All seminars will be held on Zoom, commencing at 12:10pm.

Please Note: Abstracts, Zoom details and calendar invites will be sent out prior to each seminar.


25 August | Hélène Sirantoine “Serendipitous findings: about the unexpected appearance of a daughter of King Arthur in a thirteenth-century piece of Spanish hagiography”



22 September | Deirdre O’Connell “Biography in a digital age: recovering the lives of a band of black traveling performing artists in interwar Europe” 


20 October | Pamela Maddock
“Corporal punishment and disease control in the antebellum US army: the case of Captain Sykes, 1853”


1604 treaty between Henri IV of France and Ottoman sultan Ahmed I
Wednesday 3 November | Darren Smith Le monde est un logement d’etrangers: a French diplomat in the seventeenth-century Mediterranean”

You can sign up to History on Wednesday at the SOPHI event registration page. Find out more at the SOPHI Events page.The seminar series convenor is Hélène Sirantoine | Click here to email

How was it really? | History podcasts

Why not subscribe to the Department of History’s podcast series
How was it really?‘ on Soundcloud.

    The University of Sydney

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Vale Neville Meaney

By Professor James Curran

It is with great sadness that I inform you that our former colleague and friend, Neville Meaney, passed away on Sunday. He was a scholar, historian and mentor to many, including myself.  Neville was appointed to teach American history here in 1962 after doing his PhD at Duke: he retired in 2006. His contribution to the intellectual life of the university, to the department, to his field and indeed to the country is vast. 

Neville’s scholarship on Australian foreign and defence policy in particular towers above the rest – his work on the period 1901-1923 is nothing short of magisterial and his account of Australia and the First World War, published in 2010, is the best treatment of the subject. It was in many ways his magnum opus. His documentary history of Australia and the World, his work on Australia-Japanese relations and his many articles and reviews on Australia and America’s relations with the world broke new ground.  His article on ‘Britishness and Australian nationalism’ in Australian Historical Studies in April 2001 is still one of the most frequently downloaded pieces in that journal. And his courses on the American national myth, US foreign policy, Australian foreign policy and Australian political culture inspired several generations of students who went on to either academic careers or senior positions in the Australian public service, including in the Department of Foreign Affairs.  

In our introduction to an edited collection of his most important articles, Stuart Ward (who also studied under Neville) and I wrote:

“We first encountered Neville in the 1990s—a decade where Australian political history was in abatement and a new cultural history was making rapid headway. Neville was untroubled by the demise of the old diplomatic history, recognising that international relations needed anchoring in the broader political culture of the nation, and required more than a faithful account of meetings, cables and policy briefs from the archival coal face. Its value and potential were diminished if treated as a limited sub-specialization. But he was sufficiently old-fashioned to believe that the past held out themes of defining significance; that not everything was ‘contested’ or ‘unstable’, and that the study of politics and ideas remained a valuable point of entry into the national psyche. More to the point, he saw politics and international relations, not as a cul-de-sac of elite mannerisms, but as an extension of wider social, intellectual and cultural trends, particularly in democratic societies where political leaders are obliged to seek a popular mandate”

Neville was also active across all areas of academic life – as but one example in 1976 he was president of the SAUT (Sydney Association of University Teachers)  the quasi-union body that represented academics. A brilliant tennis player and accomplished pianist, he had also  – while an undergraduate at Adelaide – represented Australian Universities in Hockey. 

His devotion to his students was legendary: Neville hosted postgraduate seminars at his home once a month that were occasions of great conviviality and indeed great rigour. It was where arguments and hypotheses were advanced, tested and subjected to scrutiny – mostly after bowls of Irish stew (which he made) and incredibly good red wine from his well-stocked, and terrifically well-chosen, cellar.

He will be greatly missed.

Neville’s funeral will be held at Macquarie Park Cemetery in the Camellia chapel on Tuesday 8 June at 2pm.  I will be delivering a eulogy on his academic career at the service, and my column in the Australian Financial Review on Monday 7 June will be dedicated to his profound influence on Australian intellectual and public life.

There will be a wake at Sydney University in the Holme building from 6pm that same day, 8 June.

James

James Curran

Professor of Modern History

University of Sydney 

Farewell to Miranda Johnson

Dear Colleagues and friends of History,

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.    

In 2017, Miranda’s teaching was acknowledged with a FASS ‘Excellence in Teaching’ Award, particularly for her hands-on engagement with students and guests in her unit entitled The Pitcairn Project (where you can read about some of the students’ work).

In the same year, The Land is Our History, was shortlisted for the General History Prize in the NSW Premier’s History Awards. The judges described Miranda’s work in glowing terms:

‘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.

Miranda talked about her work with student Ryan Cropp.

More recently, Miranda showcased some of her new work on legal history and Native identities in an essay in the internationally renowned journal, American Historical Review, entitled “The Case of the Million Dollar Duck: A Hunter, His Treaty, and the Bending of the Settler Contract.”

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.

All best wishes,

Mark McKenna, Chair, Department of History

Miranda Johnson

History of University Life Seminar



History of University Life

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.

Other social media
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Follow St Paul’s College on Twitter See the Department of History blog

Image by Max Dupain reproduced courtesy of the University Art Collection, University of Sydney.

History Student Prizes

Every year, the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI) holds a ceremony to recognise the brilliant endeavours of our students – both undergraduate and postgraduate.

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 History Prize Winners are listed below, followed by a note about what each prize recognises. You can also watch the speech of the History Department Chair, Professor Mark McKenna here, in which he congratulates the prize winners, and notes the special importance of History and the Humanities in times of crises.

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.

HISTORY

Prizes

AE (Tony) Cahill History Prize

Robert Stone

Aisling Society of Sydney Prize for an essay on Irish or Irish-Australian History

Siobhan Ryan

Australasian Pioneers’ Club Scholarship

Elizabeth Heffernan

Charles Brunsdon Fletcher Prize for Pacific History

Robert Mason

Charles Trimby Burfitt Prize for the Study of Australian History Prior to 1900

Nicole Leong

George Arnold Wood Memorial Prize for History I

Clio Davidson-Lynch

George Arnold Wood Memorial Prize for History II

Samuel Goldberg

GS Caird Scholarship in History II

Imogen Harper

Siobhan Ryan

Helen Newbon Bennett Memorial Prize for Senior History

Briony Moore

History Department Prizes – For an outstanding essay on a subject relating to social justice and/or social inclusion

Sarah Blencowe

Samantha Whaitiri-Faitua

History Department Prizes – For outstanding work in HSTY3901

Samuel Lewis

History Department Prizes – For outstanding work in HSTY3902

Amanda Armstrong

History Department Prizes – For outstanding work in HSTY3903

Siobhan Ryan

Isabel M King Memorial Prize for History III

Georgia Horsley

J H M Nolan Memorial Prize for Proficiency in History

Pola Cohen

Philippe Erdos Prize in History

Elisabeth Barber

Scholarships

Undergraduate Equity Scholarships in History

Aisha Allazze

Micaila Bellanto

Darcy Campbell

Lydia Fagan

Theresa Moran

Laura Sole

Trent Taylor

God Save the Queen?

Sculpture in wood representing Queen Victoria.
AFRICA. Nigeria / Lagos [?]. Cultural Group: Yoruba Aku [?] Saro [?] Local Name: Unknown. Materials: Wood Plant / ?.
Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford. Acc. No. 1965.10.1.
For more details, see Pitt Rivers Museum

The recent decision by the High Court on the ‘palace letters’ – correspondence between Governor-General John Kerr and Queen Elizabeth II and her staff at the time of the dismissal by the Governor-General of Gough Whitlam as Australian Prime Minister in 1975 – has again focussed interest on relations between Australians and the monarchy.  Though a referendum on a republic was defeated in 1999, largely because of disagreement about the mode of election of a non-royal Australian Head of State, the issue of the republic remains a live topic in political debate.  Meanwhile, the British royal family remains constantly in the news, from reports about Harry and Meghan’s flight to the United States to accusations of sexual misconduct by Prince Andrew.

A major collaborative project in the Department of History, led by Professor Robert Aldrich and Dr Cindy McCreery, has shed new light on the history of monarchy in the modern world, and in particular, on crucial links between monarchies and colonies and on the role of monarchies in the process of decolonisation.  Aldrich and McCreery have edited three volumes of papers on colonialism and monarchy, the most recent of which was published in June 2020, Monarchies and Decolonisation in Asia.  It followed Crowns and Colonies: European monarchies and overseas empires (2016) and Royals on Tour: Politics, pageantry and colonialism (2018), all three books published in Manchester University Press’ prestigious ‘Studies in Imperialism’ series.

With a total of 45 chapters and 919 pages, these three volumes include contributions by Aldrich and McCreery, as well as by the Department’s Professor Mark McKenna and Dr Jim Masselos (a now retired member and current Honorary Reader), as well as a cohort of scholars who have studied history at the University of Sydney – Jean Gelman Taylor, Matt Fitzpatrick, Susie Protschky, Emmanuelle Guenot and Bruce Baskerville.  Contributions to the volumes have come from specialists at several Australian universities and also from institutions in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, the United States, Canada, India, Myanmar, Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia.

In addition, Aldrich and McCreery have edited a special issue of the Royal Studies Journal on visits to the Dominions of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa by British royals in the twentieth century.  They have also engaged in individual work on modern monarchy, including Aldrich’s Banished Potentates: Dethroning and exiling indigenous monarchs under British and French colonial rule, 1815-1955 (2018).  McCreery is currently completing a major study of the world tour of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s son, in the 1860s and 1870s.  They have organised three conferences at the University of Sydney on monarchy and colonialism, with SOPHI financial support. Along with Dr Falko Schnike, Aldrich and McCreery organised an international conference on ‘Global Royal Families’, for which SOPHI provided partial funding, that was held at the German Historical Institute in London in January 2020 and that will also lead to publications.  In first semester of this year, they taught an honours seminar on ‘modern monarchy’ in the Department of History.

For Aldrich and McCreery, monarchy is often wrongly seen only as an anachronism in the twenty-first century world, or just as a theme for series such as ‘The Crown’ and tabloid news stories.  However, several dozen countries around the world, including Australia, still have a monarch as a head of state, and in some countries, the sovereign rules as well as reigns, even wielding absolute power.  Even in ‘constitutional monarchies’, hereditary sovereigns have ‘reserve powers’ (including the power to dismiss prime ministers directly or through their vice-regal representatives), even if they are rarely exercised, and other constitutional prerogatives.  They are frequently seen as symbols of historical continuity and national unity, and as exemplars of national values.  Many have enormous wealth, grand palaces and priceless collections of art, and they are at the centre of a large group of aristocrats, courtiers, providores, military personal and servants.  They are celebrities, their private lives the subject of almost unbounded public curiosity. 

Monarchy is one of the oldest and most widespread forms of government in the world, and in recent years there has been a renewed current systematic scholarly research on the subject to which Aldrich and McCreery and their collaborators have made a major contribution.  They have provided new Australian perspectives on monarchy and, with new materials and approaches, have discovered the key role played by the crown and sovereigns – both indigenous and foreign – in the processes of colonialism and decolonisation.  Through their publications, they have investigated monarchy across the world, including in Australia and the Commonwealth, and revealed the potency of the crown as institution and symbol, and of individual royals as key actors in international affairs.  In undertaking this work, they have also positioned the Department of History at Sydney as a leading centre for studies in modern monarchy and as a link in an international network of scholars examining the cultural, social and political history of an institution that continues to retain relevance – and also to provoke debate – in current affairs.

Want to learn more? Listen in to the “Hour of Power Podcast” with Robert and Cindy: “Monarchies really aren’t as simple as we think.”

Sydney University Historians Respond to the Pandemic

Despite the demands of the rapid shift to online teaching and new child care responsibilities, academic staff in the Department of History, University of Sydney, have been applying their expertise to help us understand the Covid-19 pandemic and its implications. Historians are revealing the social, cultural and political dimensions of the disease outbreak, especially in relation to racism and inequality, as well as illuminating its impact on international relations, economies, human rights and university learning.

Sophie Loy-Wilson has eloquently connected the Australian response to Covid-19–the so-called ‘China virus’–to our country’s long history of racism, and explained how our leaders should combat viral panic, ignorance and prejudice.

Turning to the United States, Thomas Adams considers the damage neoliberalism and health care privatisation are doing to workers’ health. In collaboration with the Greater New Orleans Coalition for a Fair Hospitality Fund, Adams is critically examining how economic aid is distributed in the pandemic. Meanwhile, Pamela Maddock, a recent Ph.D. graduate, is writing on the history of militarisation of American reactions to crises such as epidemics.

Sophie Chao is productively exploring how Covid-19 makes us think about our bodies differently, and reshapes intimacy and domesticity. A further article has just come out with Thesis Eleven, along with a special issue of Oceania, on the pandemic in the Pacific, co-edited with anthropologist Ute Eickelkamp.

In a similar cultural vein, Warwick Anderson has written on how to have philosophy in a pandemic, why the iconic Australian beach was re-imagined as a special space of contamination, and what the controversies over mask wearing mean for ‘face work’ in a time of Covid-19, particularly in the United States. Isis, the leading history of science journal, commissioned him to take a ‘second look’ at Charles Rosenberg’s The Cholera Years (1962) in the light of the pandemic, and he is writing an essay review for Public Books of three forthcoming epidemic histories. Additionally, he spoke with Christopher Lydon on U.S. National Public Radio’s Open Source–along with Jim Kim, former president of the World Bank–about national responses to Covid-19.

Others in History are explaining the pandemic’s implications for governance and international relations. Glenda Sluga looks closely at how the Coronascene has licensed xenophobia and nationalism, with dire consequences for international order. She has spoken widely on global aspects of the response to the pandemic and the recovery from it. In numerous articles, James Curran urges Australia not to use the excuse of Covid-19 to erect permanent walls against the rest of the world. He explores the pandemic’s impact on our relations with China and the United States. Marco Duranti is working with data scientists to conduct ‘text mining’ in order to illuminate what reactions to the new coronavirus might mean for human rights

Within the University sector itself, Julia Horne is writing on how Covid-19 has exposed Australian universities’ reliance on international students. While Miranda Johnson reflects thoughtfully on the pedagogical meanings of the shift toward online learning. Postgraduate student Robin M. Eames and undergraduate (and University disability officer) Margot Beavon-Collin have written a statement on behalf of the University of Sydney Disabilities Collective, explaining how epidemic diseases such as Covid-19 historically have disproportionately affected those with disabilities. Frances Clarke is helping history students create and curate materials, especially oral histories, for the Fisher Library’s new Covid-19 archive. And postgraduate student Hollie Pich has analysed such archive work—Covid history in the making, or capturing the pandemic for posterity—in the Guardian.

Finally, for some upcoming analysis and discussion about different aspects of the relationship between Universities and the current crisis, please join us online for the History of University Life seminar, starting with a discussion about what would it take to have a university-led recovery in the post-Covid world. Chaired by Julia Horne, University Historian at the University of Sydney and co-convenor of History of University Life, an invitation and full program details can be found here.

Sydney historians are entering the Coronasphere through diverse routes, but with the common goal to employ the methods and insights of the humanities and social sciences to better understand and engage with our global predicament.

Warwick Anderson

June 2020

Congratulations to Jamie Dunk

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the History Department, I’d like to congratulate Jamie Dunk. His recent book, Bedlam at Botany Bay, has just been shortlisted for the Ernest Scott Prize.

The prize is awarded annually to “the book judged to be the most distinguished contribution to the history of Australia or New Zealand or to the history of colonisation published in the previous year”.

This is a wonderful achievement as evidenced by the judges’ comments below. Well done Jamie!

All best,

Mark McKenna

Chair, Department of History

James Dunk, Bedlam at Botany Bay, New South, 2019

It’s the history of New South Wales, but not as we know it. The names are familiar, as are the events – Macarthurs, Wentworths, Blaxland, Bligh, rebellion, inquiries, select committees – but by paying close attention to the ‘strong personalities’, ‘eccentricities’ and ‘unfortunate endings’, Dunk puts us in the mirror house, where all that was familiar now feels strange and illuminating of quite a different colony. This is more than a collective biography, a history of whitefella madness, or the bureaucratic and jurisdictional journey to self-government. Dunk’s book reminds us that there is nothing inevitable about how things turn out: this is a rare feat in history-writing.

Power and Culture

Power and Culture: Making Indian Identity

A conference in honour of Jim Masselos

Department of History, The University of Sydney, CCANESA, Madsen Building

20-21 February 2020

Jim Masselos, Sydney and India

This conference celebrates the teaching, research, philanthropy and friendship of Dr Jim Masselos.  After completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Sydney, he took a doctorate at the University of Bombay, and then returned to Sydney, where he taught for 36 years until his retirement in 2001; he is currently an Honorary Reader in the Department of History in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry.

Jim is an internationally renowned specialist in the history of Indian nationalism, the history of Bombay and the history of early photography and popular art in India.  Among his many publications are Nationalism on the Indian Subcontinent: An Introductory History (1972; revised ed., Indian Nationalism: A History, 1985); Towards Nationalism: Group Affiliations and the Politics of Public Associations in Nineteenth Century Western India (1974); Dancing to the Flute: Music and Dance in Indian Art (with Jackie Menzies and Pratapaditya Pal) (1997); Beato’s Delhi, 1857, 1997 (with Narayani Gupta, 2000, reprinted as Beato’s Delhi 1857 and Beyond, 2011); The City in Action: Bombay Struggles for Power (2007) and Bombay Then and Mumbai Now (with Naresh Fernandes) (2009), three exhibition catalogues, five edited books – including Bombay and Mumbai: The City in Transition, co-edited with our conference keynote speaker, Sujata Patel (2003) –  six special issues of academic journals, and seventy-odd journal articles and book chapters.

Jim is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Asiatic Society of Mumbai – one of fewer than ten foreigners elected since 1947 to a society that traces its origins to 1804.  Bombay Before Mumbai: Essays in Honour of Jim, edited by Prasant Kidambi, Manjiri Kamat and Rachel Dwyer, was published last year by Oxford University Press, and launched in both London and Mumbai. 

This conference has been made possible by generous funding from the John Anthony Gilbert Bequest and the Alexander John Anderson Bequest of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, allocated by the Dean of the Faculty, and by supplementary funding from the Department of History, for which we are extremely grateful. 

All sessions will take place in the meeting room of the Centre for Classical and Near Eastern Studies of Australia (CCANESA), on the first floor of the Madsen Building, on the main campus (near City Road) of the University of Sydney.

Morning coffee and afternoon tea will be provided to all participants, and lunch will be provided to paper-givers and chairs.  The conference dinner is open to all participants at their own expense.

Conference convened by Professor Robert Aldrich and Dr Cindy McCreery, Department of History, SOPHI, FASS, The University of Sydney

Thursday, 20 February

8.45                 Registration

9.00                 Welcome and practical information

9.30                 KEYNOTE ADDRESS

‘Studying Indian History and Society: Beyond Colonial and National Perspectives’

                        Sujata Patel (Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla)

10.45-11.00     Morning coffee

11.00-12.30     Session 1

‘Divine Damsels in distress: The Yoginis of Hirapur and Beraghat’

                        Richard Barz (Australian National University)

‘Religion and Empire: Roman Catholicism in Colonial Bengal and the Transnational World, 1841-1947’

                        Tim Allender (University of Sydney)

                        ‘Nineteenth-Century Commercial Laws and History’

                        Gail Pearson (University of Sydney)

12.30-1.30       Lunch

1.30-3.00         Session 2

 ‘Alternative Visions: Hindi and Australia’

                        Peter Friedlander (Australian National University)

‘Mapping Knowledge of New South Wales from Calcutta in the Late Eighteenth Century’

Eileen Chanin (Australian National University)

                        ‘Night Train to Varanasi’

                        Sean Doyle

3.00-3.30         Afternoon Tea

3.30-5.00         Session 3

                        ‘Indian Perceptions of a Burmese Nationalist in the 1920s’

                        Yuri Takahashi (Australian National University)

                        ‘The Politics of Place in Colonial Ahmedabad’

                        Rob Wooding

The Sounds of Anticolonialism: Gandhi, Noise and the Microphone’

                        Kama Maclean (University of New South Wales)

7.00     Conference dinner (at participants’ own expense) at Salt & Palm Restaurant, 22 Glebe Point Road, Glebe – a short walk from the conference site (restaurant to be confirmed).

Friday, 21 February

9.30-11.00       Session 4

                        ‘Bombay Roots, Global Networks: Kapila Khandvala, 1930s and 1940s’

Heather Goodall and Devleena Ghosh (University of Technology, Sydney)

                        ‘Indian Labour History and the 1974 Strike’

                        Stephen Sherlock (University of New South Wales, Canberra)

                        ‘The Huntington Thesis and India’

                        Howard Brasted (University of New England)

11.00-11.30     Morning Coffee

11.30-1.00       Session 5

                        ‘The Collection of an Indophile’

                        Jackie Menzies (Art Gallery of New South Wales)

                        ‘A Slice of India, 1966: Experimenting with Devices from the Australian Bicentennial History Project (1988)’

                        Robin Jeffrey (Institute of South Asian Studies, Singapore)

‘Cut and Come Again: Imagining the Sequel to Jim Masselos’ India: Creating a Modern Nation (1990)’

Peter Mayer (University of Adelaide)

1.00-2.00         Lunch

2.00-3.00         Session 6

                        ‘Ayahs in Australian History’: Searching for Subaltern Women’

                        Victoria Haskins

‘Nineteenth-Century Indian Photography and the Crisis of Postcolonial Secularism’

                        Sushma Griffin (University of Queensland)

3.00-4.00         Roundtable discussion on Indian history in Australia

4.00-4.30         Afternoon tea

4.30-5.00         Concluding remarks by Jim Masselos