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Britain’s Second Embassy to China »

Lord Amherst's 'Special Mission' to the Jiaqing Emperor in 1816

Authored by: Caroline Stevenson
Publication date: 2020
Lord Amherst’s diplomatic mission to the Qing Court in 1816 was the second British embassy to China. The first led by Lord Macartney in 1793 had failed to achieve its goals. It was thought that Amherst had better prospects of success, but the intense diplomatic encounter that greeted his arrival ended badly. Amherst never appeared before the Jiaqing emperor and his embassy was expelled from Peking on the day it arrived. Historians have blamed Amherst for this outcome, citing his over-reliance on the advice of his Second Commissioner, Sir George Thomas Staunton, not to kotow before the emperor. Detailed analysis of British sources reveal that Amherst was well informed on the kotow issue and made his own decision for which he took full responsibility. Success was always unlikely because of irreconciable differences in approach. China’s conduct of foreign relations based on the tributary system required submission to the emperor, thus relegating all foreign emissaries and the rulers they represented to vassal status, whereas British diplomatic practice was centred on negotiation and Westphalian principles of equality between nations. The Amherst embassy’s failure revised British assessments of China and led some observers to believe that force, rather than diplomacy, might be required in future to achieve British goals. The Opium War of 1840 that followed set a precedent for foreign interference in China, resulting in a century of ‘humiliation’. This resonates today in President Xi Jinping’s call for ‘National Rejuvenation’ to restore China’s historic place at the centre of a new Sino-centric global order.

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On Taungurung Land »

Sharing History and Culture

Publication date: 2020
On Taungurung land: Sharing history and culture is the first monograph to examine how the Taungurung Nation of central Victoria negotiated with protectors and pastoralists to retain possession of their own country for as long as possible. Historic accounts, to date, have treated the histories of Acheron and Mohican Aboriginal stations as preliminary to the establishment of the more famous Coranderrk on Wurundjeri land. Instead of ‘rushing down the hill’ to Coranderrk, this book concentrates upon the two foundational Aboriginal stations on Taungurung Country. A collaboration between Elder Uncle Roy Patterson and Jennifer Jones, the book draws upon Taungurung oral knowledge and an unusually rich historical record. This fine-grained local history and cultural memoir shows that adaptation to white settlement and the preservation of culture were not mutually exclusive. Uncle Roy shares generational knowledge in this book in order to revitalise relationships to place and establish respect and mutual practices of care for Country.

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A Bridge Between »

Spanish Benedictine Missionary Women in Australia

Authored by: Katharine Massam
Publication date: October 2020
This sensitive account of Spanish Benedictine women at an Aboriginal mission in Western Australia is poignant and disturbing. Notable for its ecumenical spirit, depth of research and deep engagement with the subject, A Bridge Between is a model of how religious history, in its broader bearings, can be written. — Graeme Davison, Monash University With great insight and care, A Bridge Between presents a sympathetic but not uncritical history of the lives of individuals who have often been invisible. The story of the nuns at New Norcia is a timely contribution to Australia’s religious history. Given the findings of the Royal Commission, it will be widely read both within and beyond the academy. History is, here, a spiritual discipline, and an exercise in hope and reconciliation. — Laura Rademaker, The Australian National University A Bridge Between is the first account of the Benedictine women who worked at New Norcia and the first book-length exploration of twentieth-century life in the Western Australian mission town. From the founding of a grand school intended for ‘nativas’, through links to Mexico and Paraguay then Ireland, India and Belgium, as well as to their house in the Kimberley, and a network of villages near Burgos in the north of Spain, this is a complex international history. A Bridge Between gathers a powerful, fragmented story from the margins of the archive, recalling the Aboriginal women who joined the community in the 1950s and the compelling reunion of missionaries and former students in 2001. By tracing the all-but-forgotten story of the community of Benedictine women who were central to the experience of the mission for many Aboriginal families in the twentieth century, this book lays a foundation for further work.

Lilith: A Feminist History Journal: Number 26 »

Publication date: October 2020
The 2020 issue of Lilith features research on a range of feminist history topics, including an exploration of the performativity of temperance activist Bessie Harrison Lee; a critique of how colonial women are represented in Australian museums; a discussion of representations of motherhood in digital archives; a reconceptualisation of the radical nature of women’s political history; an investigation of the role that dress played in encouraging community acceptance of early women preachers in Australia; an inquiry into how fat bodies became a site of resistance of gender norms among rural women in interwar Western Australia; a study of women’s presence on plantations in colonial north Queensland; a survey of ‘moral treatment’ of puerperal insanity among female patients at Fremantle Lunatic Asylum; and an analysis of the coercion of women into domestic service in interwar Britain.
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‘Now is the Psychological Moment’ »

Earle Page and the Imagining of Australia

Authored by: Stephen Wilks
Publication date: October 2020
Earle Christmas Grafton Page (1880–1961) – surgeon, Country Party leader, treasurer and prime minister – was perhaps the most extraordinary visionary to hold high public office in twentieth-century Australia. Over decades, he made determined efforts to seize ‘the psychological moment’, and thereby realise his vision of a decentralised, regionalised and rationally ordered nation. Page’s unique dreaming of a very different Australia encompassed new states, hydroelectricity, economic planning, cooperative federalism and rural universities. His story casts light on the wider place in history of visions of national development. He was Australia’s most important advocate of developmentalism, the important yet little-studied stream of thought that assumes that governments can lead the nation to realise its economic potential. His audacious synthesis of ideas delineated and stretched the Australian political imagination. Page’s rich career confirms that Australia has long inspired popular ideals of national development, but also suggests that their practical implementation was increasingly challenged during the twentieth century. Effervescent, intelligent and somewhat eccentric, Page was one of Australia’s great optimists. Few Australian leaders who stood for so much have since been so neglected.

The Bible in Buffalo Country »

Oenpelli Mission 1925–1931

Publication date: October 2020
Arriving in the remote Arnhem Land Aboriginal settlement of Oenpelli (Gunbalanya) in 1925, Alf and Mary Dyer aimed to bring Christ to a former buffalo shooting camp and an Aboriginal population many whites considered difficult to control. The Bible in Buffalo Country: Oenpelli Mission 1925–1931 represents a snapshot of the tumultuous first six years of the Church Missionary Society’s mission at Oenpelli and the superintendency of Alfred Dyer between 1925 and 1931. Drawing together documentary and photographic sources with local community memory, a story emerges of miscommunication, sickness, constant logistical issues, and an Aboriginal community choosing when and how to engage with the newcomers to their land. This book provides a fascinating and detailed record of the primary sources of the mission, placed alongside the interpretation and insight of local Traditional Owners. Its contents include the historical and archaeological context of the primary source material, the vivid mission reports and correspondence, along with stunning photographs of the mission and relevant maps, and finally the oral history of Esther Manakgu, presenting Aboriginal memory of this complex era. The Bible in Buffalo Country emerged from community desire for access to the source documents of their own history and for their story to be known by the broader Australian public. It is intended for the benefit of communities in western Arnhem Land and is also a rich resource for historians of Aboriginal history (and other scholars in relevant disciplines).

Indigenous Self-Determination in Australia »

Histories and Historiography

Publication date: September 2020
Histories of the colonisation of Australia have recognised distinct periods or eras in the colonial relationship: ‘protection’ and ‘assimilation’. It is widely understood that, in 1973, the Whitlam Government initiated a new policy era: ‘self-determination’. Yet, the defining features of this era, as well as how, why and when it ended, are far from clear. In this collection we ask: how shall we write the history of self-determination? How should we bring together, in the one narrative, innovations in public policy and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander initiatives? How (dis)continuous has ‘self-determination’ been with ‘assimilation’ or with what came after? Among the contributions to this book there are different views about whether Australia is still practising ‘self-determination’ and even whether it ever did or could. This book covers domains of government policy and Indigenous agency including local government, education, land rights, the outstation movement, international law, foreign policy, capital programs, health, public administration, mission policies and the policing of identity. Each of the contributors is a specialist in his/her topic. Few of the contributors would call themselves ‘historians’, but each has met the challenge to consider Australia’s recent past as an era animated by ideas and practices of Indigenous self-determination.

Forts and Fortification in Wallacea »

Archaeological and Ethnohistoric Investigations

Publication date: September 2020
‘This volume presents ground-breaking research on fortified sites in three parts of Wallacea by a highly regarded group of scholars from Australia, Europe, Southeast Asia and the United States. In addition to surveying and dating defensive sites in often remote and difficult terrain, the chapters provide an important and scholarly set of archaeological and ethnohistoric studies that investigate the origin of forts in Wallacea. Socio-political instability from climate events, the materialisation of indigenous belief systems, and the substantial impact of imperial expansion and European colonialism are examined and comprise a significant addition to our knowledge of conflict and warfare in an under-studied part of the Indo-Pacific. The archaeological record for past conflict is frequently ambiguous and the contribution of warfare to social development is mired in debate and paradox. Authors demonstrate that forts and other defensive constructions are costly and complicated structures that, while designed and built to protect a community from a threat of imminent violence, had (and have) complicated life histories as a result of their architectural permanence, strategic locations and traditional cultural and political significance. Understanding why conflict outbreaks – like human colonisation – often appear in the past as a punctuated event can best be approached through long-term records of conflict and violence involving archaeology and allied historical disciplines, as has been successfully done here. The volume is essential reading for archaeologists, cultural heritage managers and those with an interest in conflict studies.’ — Professor Geoffrey Clark, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University, Canberra.

Goodna Girls »

A History of Children in a Queensland Mental Asylum

Authored by: Adele Chynoweth
Publication date: September 2020
Goodna Girls tells the story of children incarcerated in Wolston Park Hospital, an adult psychiatric facility in Queensland, Australia. It contains the personal testimonies of women who relate—in their own no-holds-barred style and often with irreverent humour—how they, as children, ended up in Wolston Park and how this affected their adult lives. The accounts of hospital staff who witnessed the effects of this heinous policy and spoke out are also included. The book examines the consequences of the Queensland Government’s manipulation of a medical model to respond to ‘juvenile delinquents’, many of whom were simply vulnerable children absconding from abusive conditions. As Australia faces the repercussions of the institutionalisation of its children in the twentieth century, brought about through a series of government inquiries, Goodna Girls makes a vital contribution to the public history of the Stolen Generations, Former Child Migrants and Forgotten Australians. Goodna Girls presents the research that informed a successful, collective campaign to lobby the Queensland Government to make long overdue and much-needed reparations to a group of courageous survivors. It holds contemporary resonance for scholars, policymakers and practitioners in the fields of public history, welfare, child protection, education, nursing, sociology, medicine and criminology.

Bridging Australia and Japan: Volume 2 »

The writings of David Sissons, historian and political scientist

Publication date: August 2020
This book is volume two of the writings of David Sissons, who first established his academic career as a political scientist specialising in Japanese politics, and later shifted his focus to the history of Australia–Japan relations. In this volume, we reproduce his writings on Japanese politics, the Pacific War and Australian war crimes trials after the war. He was a pioneer in these fields, carrying out research across cultural and language borders, and influenced numerous researchers who followed in his footsteps. Much of what he wrote, however, remained unpublished at the time of his death in 2006, and so the editors have included a selection of his hitherto unpublished work along with some of his published writings. Breaking Japanese Diplomatic Codes, edited by Desmond Ball and Keiko Tamura, was published in 2013, and the first volume of Bridging Australia and Japan was published in 2016. This book completes this series, which reproduces many of David Sissons’ writings. The current volume covers a wide range of topics, from Japanese wartime intentions towards Australia, the Cowra Breakout, and Sissons’ early writings on Japanese politics. Republished in this volume is his comprehensive essay on the Australian war crimes trials, which influenced the field of military justice research. Georgina Fitzpatrick and Keiko Tamura have also contributed essays reflecting on his research. Sissons was an extraordinarily meticulous researcher, leaving no stone unturned in his search for accuracy and completeness of understanding, and should be considered one of Australia’s major historians. His writings deal not only with diplomatic negotiations and decision-making, but also the lives of ordinary and often nameless people and their engagements with their host society. His warm humanity in recording ordinary people’s lives as well as his balanced examination of historical incidents and issues from both Australian and Japanese perspectives are hallmarks of his scholarship.