Australian Foreign Policy in Context

Some of you might know and have been taught by Professor James Curran. James teaches Australian and American political and foreign relations history, and has a fortnightly column on foreign affairs in the Australian Financial Review (AFR) and serves on the DFAT Historical Documents Advisory Committee. James has written for major US foreign policy journals and drafted policy briefs and reports for prominent think tanks. His latest book, Australia’s China Odyssey: From Euphoria to Fear is a study of the history of the relationship from 1949 to the present. You can read more about James’ work here.

James regularly weighs in on current foreign policy issues across various media. Some of his latest engagements are listed below – but it is hard to keep up so just google him for the latest.

You can listen to James on a short podcast produced by the Australian Book Review (ABR) on the response of Asia-Pacific nations to the government’s decision to retain AUKUS, the major foreign affairs initiative of the Morrison government. In seeking to shape this response, Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s message is necessarily complex, argues James. Here he is reading ‘Exorcising the Ghosts: Australia’s new, old foreign policy’, which appears in the April issue of ABR.

James has also recently finished a report for UTS on Hawke’s China visit in 1986, which was extracted in the AFR this week

If you would like copies of any of James’ articles in the AFR (some of which are behind a paywall), James has offered to share them. Simply contact him at

Starting in July, James will be seconded to the Australian Financial Review to beef up their Australian Foreign Policy writing, though he will maintain an active presence in the Discipline and at the University. So stay-tuned for further events featuring his work.

  1. Australian Financial Review (AFR) column 6 March on Why America’s New Cold War has China on the back foot
  2. Appearance at Adelaide Writers Festival on 7 March on a panel with Prof John Keane, Fintan O’Toole and chaired by Bob Carr, on ‘Whither America’
  3. Radio interview on ABC’s, The World Today on AUKUS, Wednesday 8 March
  4. TV Interview on Sky news on AUKUS, Wednesday 8 March – a clip of this was on ABC Mediawatch on Monday night
  5. Australian Financial Review column in ‘Perspectives’ last Saturday: on ASIO Annual threat assessments and the question of loyalty in Australian public life
  6. 3 x 600 word each Comment pieces in the AFR on 10, 13 and 15 March: these comment pieces were all on AUKUS and all flagged on page 1 of the newspaper
  7. Radio Interview on BBC Newshour, on the BBC World Service on Sunday evening 12 March,  on AUKUS
  8. Radio Interview on JJJ ‘The Hack’ on Wednesday 13 March on AUKUS
  9. TV interview on SBS News Wednesday 13 March on AUKUS, for their 630pm news bulletin
  10. Interview today, 16 March, on ABC World Today on AUKUS
  11. Australian Book Review feature on Labor’s Foreign policy (2,500 words) to be a feature in their April issue, accompanied by P.Adams produced podcast

Historians in the news – the Coronation

Originally created May 5, 2023

With the upcoming Coronation in the UK taking place this weekend, some of you might want to impress your friends and family with a little historical background to the event. If so, have a look at some of Cindy McCreery’s many media engagements over the last week or so – listed below. I particularly recommend her talk with Richard Glover on ABC radio

Cindy McCreery on the Monarchy

History making news

A quick round-up of recent media engagements in History

Originally created March 10, 2023

Marco Duranti just finished an interview with SBS on the political situation in Georgia that will be used on their 6:30 news broadcast tonight (Friday). He also did four television interviews last year on the Russo-Ukrainian conflict for Channel News Asia, as well as an ABC radio interview on the French elections.

Meanwhile, Niro Kandasamy has just co-written and published a powerful op-ed piece in the ABC about Australia’s failure to live up to its international commitments and its consequences for the refugees who suffer from it.

Cindy McCreery continues to burn the midnight oil speaking in a huge range of fora about the crises that have beset the British monarchy of late. For just a few examples, see on Australia becoming a republic, on Prince Harry, and agreeing with Hugh Jackman about a royal visit.

Check out, too, James Curran’s regular column in the Australian Financial Review: – including his latest on the controversy around the sub building program:

You can also read a review of Frances Clarke’s new co-written book, Of Age: Boy Soldiers and Military Power in the Civil War Era in the Wall Street Journal – which was also featured in the WSJ’s list of ten best books to read in February – and Frances herself writes about the research she has done in the Smithsonian Magazine:

If you haven’t already read Andres Rodriguez’s amazing new book, you can get a snapshot of it here, in a special article called “China’s Anxious Frontier: Fieldworkers on China’s Borders in the Early Twentieth Century,” in our School (SoH) Magazine

You can become a Friend of the Art Gallery of NSW and listen to John Gagne’s amazing public lectures on art history here:

And, David Brophy weighs in to help explain the strike yesterday:

News from History

Originally created January 17, 2023

Kirsten McKenzie, even before she clocked off as Chair, managed to finish two manuscripts – one a a co-edited collection called  Mobility and Coercion in an Age of Wars and Revolutions (c. 1750 – 1830) that will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2023, and a monograph, with Lisa Ford, called Inquiring into Empire – a product of their ARC grant. Kirsten was also appointed to the Board of the Museums of History News South Wales as of Dec. 31, 2022 – a major coup and honour for Kirsten!

Roberto Chauca was awarded a prestigious 2023-2024 Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study individual Fellowship ( He is now trying to figure out whether he can actually take up the offer!

Niro Kandasamy, James Findlay and Thomas Café successfully launched the History Extension mentoring program in December with five disadvantaged schools, approximately 40 HSC History Extension students, and about 20 of our own History Students acting as mntors. The program will continue over the coming months with reciprocal visits between schools and the Uni. For more details of the launch date, see the blogpost

Cindy McCreery, in addition to no fewer than eight media appearances in December, has also made five contributions to radio and tv in January, including the ABC Radio PM program with Katherine Porter on the subject of Prince Harry’s new book

Julia Horne has been awarded a Humanities Research Centre Visiting Fellowship for 2023 for 6 weeks at the ANU on the annual theme of Repair. Her topic is “Universities and Post-war Repair: The idea of ‘reconstruction’, 1943 to 1957” (; and has just published (in December) a co-edited collection entitled Australian Universities: A Conversation about Public Good. Book launch (we hope) in early March

Robin Eames received a postgraduate progression scholarship.

Students from HSTY 3902: History Beyond the Classroom have also been making waves over the holidays. Check out what the Women’s Library in Newtown had to say about the work of Alice Tompson, who is doing Honours this year:  and see some of her work at  All of the student blogposts about their work can be found at

And, another of our partner organisations in History Beyond the Classroom – the Sydney Jewish Museum – has featured the work of our students on its blogsite: 

Andres Rodriguez was awarded a 2023 Asia Study Grant to do research at the National Library of Australia for four weeks using Chinese language materials for his new project on China’s Burma Road (1937-1945)

Read About Andres Rodriguez’s new book, in a special article called “China’s Anxious Frontier: Fieldworkers on China’s Borders in the Early Twentieth Century,” in our SoH Magazine

Both David Brophy and Marco Duranti will feature in upcoming Webinar Wednesdays for Years 10-12. See

Finally, Clair Sole, a History student who recently finished her BA Advanced degree (and who most of you know already!), received a 95 for her 4thYear Individual Project for creating a History and Social Inclusion High School Program DET Grant Application based on her own field research, and also secured a full-time continuous job with SoH on the 6th floor!

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.

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

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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 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.

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