Scholars at War is the first scholarly publication to examine the effect World War II had on the careers of Australasian social scientists. It links a group of scholars through geography, transnational, national and personal scholarly networks, and shared intellectual traditions, explores their use, and contextualizes their experiences and contributions within wider examinations of the role of intellectuals in war.
Scholars at War is structured around historical portraits of individual Australasian social scientists. They are not a tight group; rather a cohort of scholars serendipitously involved in and affected by war who share a point of origin. Analyzing practitioners of the social sciences during war brings to the fore specific networks, beliefs and institutions that transcend politically defined spaces. Individual lives help us to make sense of the historical process, helping us illuminate particular events and the larger cultural, social and even political processes of a moment in time.
Contributors include Peter Hempenstall, JD Legge, Jock Phillips, John Pomeroy, Cassandra Pybus, David Wetherell, Janet Wilson.
In the Journal of Pacific History, Graeme Whimp reviews Scholars at War: Australasian social scientists, 1939–1945, edited by Geoffrey Gray, Doug Munro and Christine Winter.
Whimp gives a thorough run-down of many biographies in the collection. In particular, he praises Cassandra Pybus’ chapter, saying she “wonderfully evokes the opportunistic and dubious military character of Alf Conlon and the ‘circus’ of anthropologists and academics, poets and lawyers he created and dominated”. He also finds that Janet Wilson’s writing on Dan Davin “gains vividness from her skillful utilisation of his own short stories”.
Whimp concludes by saying that “Scholars at War is a valuable contribution to a field that appears to offer fruitful opportunities for further investigation”.