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‘True Biographies of Nations?’ »

The Cultural Journeys of Dictionaries of National Biography

Edited by: Karen Fox
Publication date: 2019
Dictionaries of national biography are a long-established and significant genre of biographical and historical writing, existing in many forms across the globe. This book brings together practitioners from around the English‑speaking world to reflect on national biographical dictionary projects’ recent cultural journeys, and the challenges presented to them by such developments as the transition to a digital environment, a new alertness to the need to represent diversity, and the rise of transnationalism. Exploring their paths forward, the chapters of this book collectively make a powerful argument for the continued value and importance of large‑scale collaborative biographical dictionary research.

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A Doctor Across Borders »

Raphael Cilento and public health from empire to the United Nations

Publication date: February 2019
In his day, Raphael Cilento was one of the most prominent and controversial figures in Australian medicine. As a senior medical officer in the Commonwealth and Queensland governments, he was an active participant in public health reform during the inter-war years and is best known for his vocal engagement with public discourse on the relationship between hygiene, race and Australian nationhood. Yet Cilento’s work on tropical hygiene and social welfare ranged beyond Australia, especially when he served as a colonial medical officer in British Malaya and in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. He also worked with the League of Nations Health Organization in the Pacific Islands and oversaw international social welfare programs for the United Nations. On one level, this professional mobility allowed ideas and practices of public health and government to circulate between colonial spaces of northern Australia, the Pacific Islands and Asia. On another, it meant that Cilento’s Pacific colonialism and colonial experience shaped his understanding of Australian national health and welfare. Rather than attempt a comprehensive biography of Cilento, this book instead uses this border-crossing career as a means to explore several material and discursive facets of Australia’s relationships to the Pacific and the world.

Rosalie Gascoigne »

A Catalogue Raisonné

Authored by: Martin Gascoigne
Publication date: 2019
Rosalie Gascoigne (1917–1999) was a highly regarded Australian artist whose assemblages of found materials embraced landscape, still life, minimalism, arte povera and installations. She was 57 when she had her first exhibition. Behind this late coming-out lay a long and unusual preparation in looking at nature for its aesthetic qualities, collecting found objects, making flower arrangements and practising ikebana. Her art found an appreciative audience from the start. She was a people person, and it pleased her that through her exhibiting career of 25 years, her works were acquired by people of all ages, interests and backgrounds, as well as by the major public institutions on both sides of the Tasman Sea. In the media Read the ANU Reporter article: Art in road signs.

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Australian Journal of Biography and History: No. 1, 2018 »

Publication date: December 2018
In this first issue, a diverse range of essays primarily relates to questions of individuals and the contexts in which they functioned, the ‘middle ground’ between a life and the times. Four of them concern Australian women who operated and negotiated various fields of endeavour, only one of which—the role of headmistress of a girls’ school—was unambiguously a woman’s domain. The profile of Miss Annie Hughston (1859–1943) shows how a strong figure could have a disproportionate influence on women entering male bastions. Similarly, Nancy Atkinson, a pioneering bacteriologist at the University of Adelaide, was not only a scientific researcher of note but a teacher of generations of graduate students. Yet when the chair in her field finally became available, she was overlooked in favour of a male English import, despite having acted in the role for many years. She was valued it seems more for her teaching than her research, a classic tendency to ascribe to women in scientific circles a nurturing rather than a knowledge-creating function. Jean Andruana Jimmy (1912–1991), a Yupngayth woman from Mapoon in north Queensland, also became prominent in community leadership and land rights activism, areas that had been assumed to be male spheres. Yet leading her community was by no means as revolutionary as was often assumed by outside European observers, for Andruana saw herself resuming a role that was entirely consistent with women’s responsibilities. Sophie Scott-Brown’s portrait of the playwright and director Eunice Hangar examines the nature of reading as ‘a simultaneously social and individualistic activity’ and its implications for understanding the way Australians have read English writers. The article on the nineteenth-century journalist and gold commissioner Fredrick Dalton explores the potential of nineteenth-century mobilities in the formation of identity. Karen Fox explores how family history, in this case the Stephen and Street ‘legal dynasty’, can illuminate an understanding of legal and power relations in a geographic setting. The article on André Kostermans, a renowned Dutch Indonesian botanist, is also on one level a story of shifting identity. Born in the Dutch East Indies, and trained in botany in Holland, Kostermans was interned by the Japanese during World War II, and used his skills to supplement the diet of his fellow prisoners of war, and to develop a ‘bush’ procedure for producing surgical-grade alcohol, actions that undoubtedly saved the lives of many. After the war, his career was almost ruined by the Indonesian government’s response to his homosexuality. In the final essay, the University of Xian scholar Tiping Su discusses the problem of the ‘missing’ Chinese in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, explaining the various issues in identifying and historicising the many Chinese who sojourned in Australia, as well as those who stayed.

The Lives of Stories »

Three Aboriginal-Settler Friendships

Authored by: Emma Dortins
Publication date: December 2018
The Lives of Stories traces three stories of Aboriginal–settler friendships that intersect with the ways in which Australians remember founding national stories, build narratives for cultural revival, and work on reconciliation and self-determination. These three stories, which are still being told with creativity and commitment by storytellers today, are the story of James Morrill’s adoption by Birri-Gubba people and re-adoption 17 years later into the new colony of Queensland, the story of Bennelong and his relationship with Governor Phillip and the Sydney colonists, and the story of friendship between Wiradjuri leader Windradyne and the Suttor family. Each is an intimate story about people involved in relationships of goodwill, care, adoptive kinship and mutual learning across cultures, and the strains of maintaining or relinquishing these bonds as they took part in the larger events that signified the colonisation of Aboriginal lands by the British. Each is a story in which cross-cultural understanding and misunderstanding are deeply embedded, and in which the act of storytelling itself has always been an engagement in cross-cultural relations. The Lives of Stories reflects on the nature of story as part of our cultural inheritance, and seeks to engage the reader in becoming more conscious of our own effect as history-makers as we retell old stories with new meanings in the present, and pass them on to new generations.

Carl Strehlow’s 1909 Comparative Heritage Dictionary »

An Aranda, German, Loritja and Dieri to English Dictionary with Introductory Essays

Edited by: Anna Kenny
Publication date: August 2018
Carl Strehlow’s comparative dictionary manuscript is a unique item of Australian cultural heritage; it is a large collection of circa 7,600 Aranda, 6,800 Loritja (Luritja) and 1,200 Dieri to German entries compiled at the beginning of the twentieth century at the Hermannsburg Mission in central Australia. It is an integral part of Strehlow’s ethnographic work on Aboriginal cultures that his German editor Baron Moritz von Leonhardi published as Die Aranda- und Loritja-Stämme in Zentral-Australien (Strehlow 1907–1920) in Frankfurt. Strehlow and his editor had planned to publish a language study that included this comparative dictionary, but it remained unpublished until now due to a number of complicated historical and personal circumstances of the main characters involved with the dictionary. Strehlow’s linguistic work is historically and anthropologically significant because it probably represents the largest and most comprehensive wordlist of Indigenous languages compiled in Australia during the early stages of contact. It is an important primary source for Luritja and Aranda speakers. Both languages are spoken in homes and taught in schools in central Australia. The reasons for presenting this work as a heritage dictionary—that is, as an exact transcription of the original form of the handwritten manuscript—are to follow the Western Aranda people’s wishes and to maintain its historical authenticity, which will prove to be of great use to both Indigenous people and scholars interested in language.

Dictionary of World Biography »

Fifth edition

Authored by: Barry Jones
Publication date: May 2018
Jones, Barry Owen (1932– ). Australian politician, writer and lawyer, born in Geelong. Educated at Melbourne University, he was a public servant, high school teacher, television and radio performer, university lecturer and lawyer before serving as a Labor MP in the Victorian Parliament 1972–77 and the Australian House of Representatives 1977–98. He took a leading role in reviving the Australian film industry, abolishing the death penalty in Australia, and was the first politician to raise public awareness of global warming, the ‘post-industrial’ society, the IT revolution, biotechnology, the rise of ‘the Third Age’ and the need to preserve Antarctica as a wilderness. In the Hawke Government, he was Minister for Science 1983–90, Prices and Consumer Affairs 1987, Small Business 1987–90 and Customs 1988–90. He became a member of the Executive Board of UNESCO, Paris 1991–95 and National President of the Australian Labor Party 1992–2000, 2005–06. He was Deputy Chairman of the Constitutional Convention 1998. His books include Decades of Decision 1860– (1965), Joseph II (1968), Age of Apocalypse (1975), and he edited The Penalty is Death (1968). Sleepers, Wake!: Technology and the Future of Work was published by Oxford University Press in 1982, became a bestseller and has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Swedish and braille. The fourth edition was published in 1995. Knowledge Courage Leadership, a collection of speeches and essays, appeared in 2016. He received a DSc for his services to science in 1988 and a DLitt in 1993 for his work on information theory. Elected FTSE (1992), FAHA (1993), FAA (1996) and FASSA (2003), he is the only person to have been elected to all four Australian learned Academies. Awarded an AO in 1993, named as one of Australia’s 100 ‘living national treasures’ in 1998, he was elected a Visiting Fellow Commoner of Trinity College, Cambridge in 1999. His autobiography, A Thinking Reed, was published in 2006 and The Shock of Recognition, about music and literature, in 2016. In 2014 he received an AC for services ‘as a leading intellectual in Australian public life’.

Clio’s Lives »

Biographies and Autobiographies of Historians

Publication date: October 2017
Including contributions from leading scholars in the field from both Australia and North America, this collection explores diverse approaches to writing the lives of historians and ways of assessing the importance of doing so. Beginning with the writing of autobiographies by historians, the volume then turns to biographical studies, both of historians whose writings were in some sense nation-defining and those who may be regarded as having had a major influence on defining the discipline of history. The final section explores elements of collective biography, linking these to the formation of historical networks. A concluding essay by Barbara Caine offers a critical appraisal of the study of historians’ biographies and autobiographies to date, and maps out likely new directions for future work. Clio’s Lives is a very good scholarly collection that advances the study of autobiography and biography within the writing of history itself, taking theoretical questions in significant new directions. The contributors are well known and highly respected in the history profession and write with an insight and intellectual energy that will ensure the book has considerable impact. They examine cutting-edge issues about the writing of history at the personal level through autobiography and biography in diverse and innovative ways. Together the writers have provided reflective chapters that will be widely read for their impressive theoretical advances as well as being inspirational for new entrants to the disciplinary area. — Patricia Grimshaw, University of Melbourne Clio’s Lives brings together a most interesting and varied cast of contributors. Its chapters contain sophisticated and well-penned ruminations on the uses of biography and autobiography among historians. These are clearly connected with the general themes of the volume. This delightfully mixed bag makes very good reading and, as well, will serve as a substantial contribution to the study of the biography and autobiography. — Eric Richards, Flinders University

German Ethnography in Australia »

Publication date: September 2017
The contribution of German ethnography to Australian anthropological scholarship on Aboriginal societies and cultures has been limited, primarily because few people working in the field read German. But it has also been neglected because its humanistic concerns with language, religion and mythology contrasted with the mainstream British social anthropological tradition that prevailed in Australia until the late 1960s. The advent of native title claims, which require drawing on the earliest ethnography for any area, together with an increase in research on rock art of the Kimberley region, has stimulated interest in this German ethnography, as have some recent book translations. Even so, several major bodies of ethnography, such as the 13 volumes on the cultures of northeastern South Australia and the seven volumes on the Aranda of the Alice Springs region, remain inaccessible, along with many ethnographically rich articles and reports in mission archives. In 18 chapters, this book introduces and reviews the significance of this neglected work, much of it by missionaries who first wrote on Australian Aboriginal cultures in the 1840s. Almost all of these German speakers, in particular the missionaries, learnt an Aboriginal language in order to be able to document religious beliefs, mythology and songs as a first step to conversion. As a result, they produced an enormously valuable body of work that will greatly enrich regional ethnographies.

The Histories of Raphael Samuel »

A portrait of a people's historian

Authored by: Sophie Scott-Brown
Publication date: May 2017
In the first integrated biographical study of his work, this book situates British historian Raphael Samuel (1934–1996) in relation to his distinctive form of activist politics as they developed from youthful Cold War communism to the first British New Left, 1960s radicalism to the 1980s history wars. As the catalyst behind the History Workshop movement, Samuel championed the democratisation of history-making and practised an eclectic form of people’s history in his own work. His unique approach was controversial, drawing impassioned responses from across the ideological spectrum, the most sustained critique often coming from his left-wing contemporaries. It is argued here that this compelling figure has been unjustly neglected and that he continues to offer important insights into the politics of history-making in a post-Marxist world.