Arts & Cultural Exchange

I’ve grown up and lived the majority of my life in Western Sydney, and during much of that time I saw my area as being essentially barren when it came to the arts and any related opportunities. It often seemed to me that the disadvantages of the west were immutable and unscaleable. I was wrong, very wrong in fact, but it’s a pretty pervasive mentality out west. Deadset on proving people like young-me wrong are institutions like the Arts and Cultural Exchange (ACE – ) in Parramatta.

I first became aware of ACE by its former name ICE (Information & Cultural Exchange) through a band mate who facilitated workshops with Neurodivergent musicians – and it was quite eye-opening to find an organisation with the kind of facilities and programs that it does snuggled right in the heart of my West. I later had the pleasure of using one of its recording studios (for a later abandoned project, alas), and attending a night of First Nation punk bands performing in their space.

ACE’s audio suite

ACE has gone through several name changes and shifts in the methodology of its mission since its inception in 1984 – so much so that the arts and creativity were not strictly involved when it was founded as a van providing information to disadvantaged communities – but combating social injustice and embracing cultural diversity has always been at its core. Access to technology and information has also always been an important part of ACEs aims.

The venue, which can be reconfigured as a performance space

Today, ACE runs five program streams – First Nations, Youth Engagement, Multicultural Women, Neurodivergent Artists and Aged Care, and Screen Media – all of which produce interdisciplinary, intergenerational projects designed and run in collaboration with the communities in question. Many of these projects harken back to ACE’s origins when it aimed to provide information, but significantly expanded to include access to technology, skills training and creative, entrepreneurial experience. These projects are often groundbreaking in their approach and life-changing for the communities who participate. So my project idea is to profile individuals who have significantly interacted with ACE, and explore the ways the organisation has impacted their lives. Something that came up in my meeting with ACE was the feedback they’d received of how much love for the organisation and its programs there was amongst participants. It’d be great to tap into that love, and find out why it’s touched people so deeply for so long. These profiles can then hopefully be paired with ACE’s new website they’re designing to coincide with their recent rebrand.

Custodians of Memory – The Sydney Jewish Museum

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

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

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

‘Going Platinum: Australian responses to the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, 1952-2022′

An international online conference via Zoom

Modern Monarchy in Global Perspective Network

University of Sydney, Australia, 20-22 June 2022

The year 2022 marks the 70th anniversary, or Platinum Jubilee, of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. Since 1952 the Queen has reigned over Australia as well as several other realms beyond Britain, and to this day serves as Head of State. For many Australians, Elizabeth II is the only monarch they have ever known, with her profile, name or initials seen every day on coins, banknotes, stamps, postboxes, hospitals and government documents. Ever since her blockbuster first Australian tour in 1954, Australians have flocked to see the Queen and her family members on numerous royal visits, and many have eagerly followed her progress here and elsewhere in the press. But these visits have also drawn protest and debate over Australia’s constitutional position. Republicans have argued that the monarchy is outdated, irrelevant and unrepresentative of our modern, multicultural nation, while some Indigenous Australians have appealed to the Queen to redress their legal, constitutional and social disadvantage.

From 20-22 June 2022, the Modern Monarchy in Global Perspective network will host an international online conference examining Australian responses to the reign of Elizabeth II in the period 1952-2022. The conference seeks to recover antipodean perspectives on the British monarchy, including Indigenous perspectives. The conference will explore three streams:

1) Constitutional and political implications: What constitutional and political implications does the reign of Queen Elizabeth II have for Australia, both to date and in the future?

2) Material Culture: How do individual objects, the everyday as well as ceremonial, tell the story of Australian responses to the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, 1952-2022?

3) Media and Popular Memory: How have Australian individuals and communities ‘seen’ and responded to Queen Elizabeth II, 1952-2022?

Conference presentations will take the form of EITHER:

1) 20-minute conference papers presented live on ZOOM in panels of up to three papers per panel
2) Roundtable presentation of 3-6 presenters discussing ONE element of one of the above themes

Please send a 300-word abstract of individual paper proposals (500-word for panel or roundtable proposals) along with names, contact addresses and brief biographies of all presenters to Cindy McCreery at: by 1 December 2021.

Image: National Museum of Australia

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.

Second New Appointment in History

From Professor Kirsten McKenzie, Chair History Department

We are delighted to announce that Dr Roberto Chauca Tapia has accepted a continuing position in the Department of History. We hope he can take up his position in January 2022, although his exact arrival depends upon the schedule of Australia’s reopening of its international border to overseas entries.

Dr Chauca is currently a member of the Department of Anthropology, History, and Humanities at FLACSO (Faculdad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Sede Ecuador) in Quito, Ecuador. He received his PhD from the University of Florida in 2015, with a dissertation titled “Science in the Jungle: Missionary Cartographic and Geographic Production of Early Modern Western Amazonia.” Before arriving at FLACSO, he taught both in Florida and at the Universidade de Brasília, in Brazil. He teaches Indigenous, colonial, and contemporary Latin America, nationalisms, histories of knowledge, and histories of science. His research focuses on the history of early modern Amazonia, Indigenous knowledge-making, cartography, Jesuit and Franciscan science, and environmental histories of the Amazon river.

In a career that has spanned several continents and multiple languages, Dr Chauca brings a range of experiences to deploy in public engagement in Indigenous histories, environment, and science. His imaginative range of teaching and research will contribute new and valuable perspectives to the History Department, and we are excited about the role he will play in the future of both History and International and Global Studies.

We look forward to welcoming Roberto to Sydney.

Many thanks


Professor Kirsten McKenzie  FAHA FRHistS
Department of History| School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry    

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.

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Study History in Semester 2

The University of Sydney

Travel in time and space with the Department of History in 2021
We have a range of exciting options in second semester taught by world-class experts in their fields. Find out more about today’s world by studying and understanding its past. Below are just a few of our offerings.

Semester 2 2021
HSTY2606: China’s Last Dynasty: The Great Qing
Explore a broad sweep of China’s history, from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries in HSTY2606 China’s Last Dynasty: The Great Qing with Dr David Brophy. An influential historian, public intellectual and activist, David has just published China Panic: Australia’s Alternative to Paranoia and Pandering

HSTY2647: Renaissance Italy
Wishing you could be in Florence? Let Associate Professor Nick Eckstein, internationally recognized authority on all things Renaissance, from art to plague, be your guide. Sign up for HSTY2647: Renaissance Italy and witness the extraordinary cultural flowering that occurred in Italy between the 14th and the 16th centuries.  

HSTY2652: Genocide in Historical Perspective
Dr Marco Duranti
, leading historian of human rights, teaches HSTY2652: Genocide in Historical Perspective. Why do genocides occur? Was imperialism genocidal? Is there such a thing as ‘cultural genocide’? We tackle these controversies – and much more – through a survey of the global history of genocide from the nineteenth century to the present.

HSTY2677: Australia: Politics and Nation 
Are we an ‘independent’ nation? Staying closer to home, in HSTY2677 Australia: Politics and Nation, Professor James Curran (together with Dr Ryan Cropp) take us on a journey from the colonial period to the present, raising the questions of political culture and nationalism we still wrestle with today. A leading scholar of politics and foreign relations, James is a regular public commentator and a columnist in the Australian Financial ReviewRead Professor Curran’s latest article here.)

If you are interested in these units and don’t meet the pre-requisites, you can submit an “enrolment exception request” via Sydney Student

What about a first year July Intensive to fast-track your degree?

HSTY1089: Introduction to Australian History

Australia has been called the ‘quiet continent’, but conflict has been part of its history since 1788. This unit examines the violence of convict society, frontier conflict and early battles for self-government. It maps the political struggles, contested stories and shifts in Indigenous-settler relations that accompanied the creation of a nation state after 1880, and explores the effects of war on different social groups. Finally, it charts Australia’s cultural and political transformation after 1945 into the postindustrial postcolonial society of today.

Watch this video to find out more about HSTY1089!

Find out more about the Department of History’s offerings, a major in History, degree progresssion, Honours, and much more!  Our Department guide has the most up-to-date information on units of study on offer. If you have any queries about units of study, please contact the unit coordinator or the SOPHI Office. E |

Interested in where a Major in History can take you? Each year we run a session where students can hear from graduates from the Department to learn about making the transition from university to the job market. Check out our information session from 2020.

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Semester Two 2020

Archaeology usyd

A message from 
The Department of History The University of Sydney

Professor Mark McKenna From the Chair of Department

Dear Students, 

As we ready ourselves for the second semester of 2020, we are reminded how vital the study of history is to so many events that dominate our lives today. Whether it is the global pandemic, the Black Lives Matter marches, or the heightening of tensions between and within nations in a time of crisis, the History Department is deeply committed to providing context for these events, and helping us to think critically about the past, and present.

Come join us in our classes in second semester. Work closely in small groups with academics across the Department in our History Workshop, or sample one of our survey units covering wide-ranging topics like Modern American History, Brexit in Historical Perspective, China and its Frontiers, Fascism and Antifascism, and even the History of Sydney’s dark side.

For advanced students, you can delve more deeply into the History of the High Renaissance, Modern China, or take one of our capstone units on History and Historians, which looks at major historiographical problems, or History Beyond the Classroom – in which you get to work with a local or community organisation to create a public history project together.

We have something for everyone, and we are looking forward to having you back in our classes. 

Department of History

Undergraduate guide Semester 2 2020

We are delighted to confirm our offerings for Semester 2. The full details can be found in the Department’s Undergraduate Student Guide, and here are links below to each of the units. 

HSTY1001 History Workshop
HSTY1003 Birth of the Present:The World since 1750
HSTY2626 Fascism and Antifascism
HSTY2631 Sin City? A History of Sydney
HSTY2642 Beyond the Great Wall: China’s Frontiers
HSTY2712 American History from Lincoln to Trump
HSTY2717 Brexit in Historical Perspective 
HSTY3700 The East is Red: China 1949-1997
HSTY3714 High Renaissance
HSTY3902 History Beyond the Classroom
HSTY3903 History and Historians 
History Honours

More information

For enquiries about changing your enrolment please contact

For all enquiries concerning the contents of units, please get in touch with the lecturers themselves, whose contact details are on the Department of History websiteYou can enrol through Sydney Student

The public website listing which units are available can be found here FASS Semester 2 webpage. We’re looking forward to seeing you in Semester 2!

Best wishes,

Professor Mark McKenna
Chair of the Department of History

Curious about FASS students’ Semester 1 experience?

Click here to read Scepticism to surprise: Teaching excellence continues during COVID-19

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Communities of Support: Leadership Fellows Scheme 2020

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney

Since 2012, the Departments of English, History, and Classics and Ancient History have worked with low-socioeconomic high schools across NSW to engage with a wider cohort of students, make us better, more inclusive teachers, foster aspiration, and encourage students of diverse backgrounds to participate in higher education. Further information about these programs can be found here: and  

This year, as part of a successful Strategic Education Grant (Widening Participation), we will recruit Leadership Fellows from across the Faculty (two per School), for HDR students to play a critical role in our new project entitled “Communities of Support: First Generation Students and the Transition to University.”

This Faculty-wide two-tier project will address student transition and retention issues among some of our most at-risk students, and contribute to student well-being and satisfaction. The project aims to create a pool of trained student volunteers and Leadership Fellows from each School who will work closely with current low-ses and First in Family students to co-create an intensive mentoring experience for incoming students in 2020. We hope to build a community of engaged, informed, and trained students and enrich the student experience for all, as well as hep inform a more formal Faculty-wide transition program in the future.

Our Leadership Fellows will be given the opportunity to advance key academic skills, including inclusive teaching and mentoring in higher education; providing mentorship to undergraduate volunteers, design support activities for volunteers to support their mentees, lead cohorts of volunteers in the delivery of grant projects, and provide general event coordination and publicity support.

The Leadership Fellow program runs from February to December 2020. The specific responsibilities, dates of commitment, and key programs of involvement for Fellows are outlined below. All duties will be conducted under the supervision and guidance of Project Manager, Dr Kieryn McKay, with the support of Project Assistant, Simon Wyatt-Spratt, and under the general direction of Associate Professor Melissa Hardie and Professor Michael A. McDonnell.

All Fellows will receive training in Inclusive Teaching and Low-SES Volunteering to qualify for their position. Fellows will receive a $500 honorarium and a certificate of achievement for their contributions to the program, both of which will be presented to Fellows at the end of their Fellowship term. 


To apply to become a Leadership Fellow, you must be currently enrolled in a Higher Degree Research program in FASS.


Application forms are available via this Qualtrics link:

Applications require candidates to provide a brief outline of relevant experience and the details of two referees.

All applications for the 2020 Leadership Fellow scheme are due by noon (12:00 pm) on Friday, January 31st.  

Leadership Fellows 2020 – Responsibilities 

The specific duties, dates of commitment, and key involvement for Fellows are outlined below. All responsibilities will be conducted under the supervision and guidance of the Project Manager, Dr Kieryn McKay, and with the support of Project Assistant, Simon Wyatt-Spratt, and under the general direction of Associate Professor Melissa Hardie and Professor Michael A. McDonnell.


Responsibilities and time commitments for Fellows are outlined below. Please note that some activities require advanced preparation, and you will be required to communicate with a small pool of volunteers (4-6 maximum) throughout the year.

Time commitment:  welcome and training session, 10 am-4 pm on Friday, February 7th; Mentor/Fellows Partnerships Lunch, 12-1 pm Friday, Feb. 28; a once-monthly lunch with Project officers and involved academics; end-of-semester and year Social event and evaluations.   

Outline: Leadership Fellows will be trained by program leaders in inclusive teaching and support, and will then in turn be responsible for coordinating and supporting small groups of undergraduate students as they mentor new first year students through the year. Leadership Fellows will also provide valuable input into the mentoring program and meet with undergraduate volunteers at least once a month, as well as meeting Project officers and academics every month. As a Leadership Fellow you will help to coordinate the program and will play a key leadership role for our group of volunteer mentors.