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Australian Journal of Biography and History: No. 5, 2021 »

Publication date: 2021
This special issue of the Australian Journal of Biography and History focuses on political biography. The 10 peer-reviewed articles and review essays collectively demonstrate that political biography is growing beyond just ‘one damned life after another’, and that there are new and productive paths open for practitioners, readers and critics of this genre. They offer a critical snapshot of the diverse approaches and attitudes to political biography in contemporary Australia. Forty years after her first critical examination of the state of political biography in Australia, Kate White makes a bold call for academics to ‘rethink their approach’ by considering novel strategies to ‘move beyond the narrative form’. Blair Williams demonstrates that although increasing numbers of women are writing and practising political biography, there remain few good examples of feminist political biography; more can be done to develop a framework for feminist political biography in Australia. Joshua Black examines the political memoir and diary genres in the broader context of the rise of life writing in the twentieth century, adopting former minister Neal Blewett’s A Cabinet Diary (1999) as a case study. In a sweeping examination of prime ministerial portraiture, Sarah Engledow reconsiders the visual performance of leadership for posterity and, ultimately, questions the biographical utility of such performances. Daniel Oakman delineates the links that politics has to mainstream Australian life via that great staple of popular culture, sport. Chris Wallace in her account of a quietly controversial and eventually abandoned biography of Robert Menzies early in his second prime ministership demonstrates that life stories are powerful but risky commodities in the fast-changing political domain. Similarly, in a methodological reflection on his award-winning biography Tiberius with a Telephone, Patrick Mullins critically explores the concerted attempts of the former prime minister to control and manipulate the public and archival record of his life. Robert Tickner, the only contributor who was also an elected political practitioner, uses his very personal article to call on others to write political and policy memoirs as a ‘public good’ that helps to encourage the ‘noble enterprise’ of participation in public life. In his analysis of backbencher memoirs, Stephen Wilks calls for more of the foot soldiers of politics—backbenchers, humble and otherwise—to write memoirs as an insight into the working lives of the typical politician, and to explore what wider significance they have as political players. And Tim Rowse and Murray Goot indicate in a powerful review essay that critically examines Warren Mundine’s political memoir In Black + White, political life narratives are implicated in the difficult postcolonial politics of race, representation and recognition.

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International Review of Environmental History: Volume 7, Issue 1, 2021 »

Edited by: James Beattie, Ruth Morgan, Margaret Cook
Publication date: June 2021
Arising from the ‘Placing Gender’ workshop held in Melbourne in 2018, this collection brings together contributions that demonstrate different approaches to undertaking gender analysis in environmental history. Focusing on non-Indigenous women and men in the Anglo-world from the mid-nineteenth century, some adopt new tools to excavate familiar terrain, while others listen closely to voices that have rarely been heard in the field. This issue argues that recasting the making of settler places in terms of their gendered production and experience not only enriches their own environmental history, but also broadens the historian’s enquiry to encompass the other lands implicated in the production of settler places.

Sound Citizens »

Australian Women Broadcasters Claim their Voice, 1923–1956

Authored by: Catherine Fisher
Publication date: June 2021
In 1954 Dame Enid Lyons, the first woman elected to the Australian House of Representatives, argued that radio had ‘created a bigger revolution in the life of a woman than anything that has happened any time’ as it brought the public sphere into the home and women into the public sphere. Taking this claim as its starting point, Sound Citizens examines how a cohort of professional women broadcasters, activists and politicians used radio to contribute to the public sphere and improve women’s status in Australia from the introduction of radio in 1923 until the introduction of television in 1956. This book reveals a much broader and more complex history of women’s contributions to Australian broadcasting than has been previously acknowledged. Using a rich archive of radio magazines, station archives, scripts, personal papers and surviving recordings, Sound Citizens traces how women broadcasters used radio as a tool for their advocacy; radio’s significance to the history of women’s advancement; and how broadcasting was used in the development of women’s citizenship in Australia. It argues that women broadcasters saw radio as a medium that had the potential to transform women’s lives and status in society, and that they worked to both claim their own voices in the public sphere and to encourage other women to become active citizens. Radio provided a platform for women to contribute to public discourse and normalised the presence of women’s voices in the public sphere, both literally and figuratively.

Aboriginal History Journal: Volume 44 »

Edited by: Crystal McKinnon, Ben Silverstein
Publication date: May 2021
In this volume, Charlotte Ward’s narration of re-enactments of the Endeavour’s landing in Cooktown traces local processes of engaging with and producing histories that bring together stories of that landing with the much longer story of Guugu Yimithirr sovereignty. Heather Burke, Ray Kerkhove, Lynley A. Wallis, Cathy Keys and Bryce Barker analyse the extent of fear on the Queensland frontier through a historical and archaeological study of homes and huts and their fortification. In a collaborative article, Myfany Turpin, Felicity Meakins, Marie Mudgedell, Angie Tchooga and Calista Yeoh consider three performances of Puranguwana, a ‘classical’ Western Desert song that emerges from the death of Yawalyurru, a Pintupi man. Paige Gleeson offers us a new perspective on the well-known image of Warlpiri-Anmatyerr man Gwoja Tjungurrayi, known since the 1950s as ‘One Pound Jimmy’, an image featured on postage stamps and on the two dollar coin. And Gretchen Stolte’s study of Queensland Aboriginal Creations situates the production of boomerangs for sale as work of cultural importance, enriching understandings of Aboriginal artwork and its production.

Austronesian Paths and Journeys »

Edited by: James J. Fox
Publication date: May 2021
This is the eighth volume in the Comparative Austronesian series. The papers in this volume examine metaphors of path and journey among specific Austronesian societies located on islands from Taiwan to Timor and from Madagascar to Micronesia. These diverse local expressions define common cultural conceptions found throughout the Austronesian-speaking world.

Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 19 »

1991–1995 (A–Z)

Edited by: Melanie Nolan
Publication date: March 2021
Volume 19 of the Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB) contains concise biographies of individuals who died between 1991 and 1995. The first of two volumes for the 1990s, it presents a colourful montage of late twentieth-century Australian life, containing the biographies of significant and representative Australians. The volume is still in the shadow of World War II with servicemen and women who enlisted young appearing, but these influences are dimming and there are now increasing numbers of non-white, non-male, non-privileged and non-straight subjects. The 680 individuals recorded in volume 19 of the ADB include Wiradjuri midwife and Ngunnawal Elder Violet Bulger; Aboriginal rights activist, poet, playwright and artist Kevin Gilbert; and Torres Strait Islander community leader and land rights campaigner Eddie Mabo. HIV/AIDS child activists Tony Lovegrove and Eve Van Grafhorst have entries, as does conductor Stuart Challender, ‘the first Australian celebrity to go public’ about his HIV/AIDS condition in 1991. The arts are, as always, well-represented, including writers Frank Hardy, Mary Durack and Nene Gare, actors Frank Thring and Leonard Teale and arts patron Ian Potter. We are beginning to see the effects of the steep rise in postwar immigration flow through to the ADB. Artist Joseph Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski was born in Poland. Pilar Moreno de Otaegui, co-founded the Spanish Club of Sydney. Chinese restaurateur and community leader Ming Poon (Dick) Low migrated to Victoria in 1953. Often we have a dearth of information about the domestic lives of our subjects; politician Olive Zakharov, however, bravely disclosed at the Victorian launch of the federal government’s campaign to Stop Violence Against Women in 1993 that she was a survivor of domestic violence in her second marriage. Take a dip into the many fascinating lives of the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

At Home in Exile »

A Memoir

Authored by: Helga M Griffin
Publication date: February 2021
This is a story of a girl’s construction of her identity, and of her family’s search for a place in the world, for the Heimat that is so resonant for those of German background. We follow Helga through an adventurous childhood in Iran, whose vast open spaces her mother called ‘my spiritual home’. Her engineer father worked on a grand scale, designing and laying roads and railways, and tunnelling through mountain ranges. Then came the invasions of World War II, and the family, half-German, half-Austrian, found themselves on a long voyage to Australia, designated enemy aliens. They were interned for nearly five years in the dusty Victorian countryside. On their release at the end of the War, stranded in Melbourne, they sought another home. The children were dispatched to convents, and at the Academy of Mary Immaculate, Helga found a temporary homeland, in faith. Everyday life in the Australia of the late 1940s and early 1950s is freshly seen by this feisty, loving migrant family. Through their eyes, we encounter a strange place, Australia, as if for the first time. Helga’s development from a thoughtful, sensitive child to a self-possessed young woman, wrestling with her faith and with how to live a decent life, is vividly recounted.

Australian Travellers in the South Seas »

Authored by: Nicholas Halter
Publication date: February 2021
This book offers a wide-ranging survey of Australian engagement with the Pacific Islands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Through over 100 hitherto largely unexplored accounts of travel, the author explores how representations of the Pacific Islands in letters, diaries, reminiscences, books, newspapers and magazines contributed to popular ideas of the Pacific Islands in Australia. It offers a range of valuable insights into continuities and changes in Australian regional perspectives, showing that ordinary Australians were more closely connected to the Pacific Islands than has previously been acknowledged. Addressing the theme of travel as a historical, literary and imaginative process, this cultural history probes issues of nation and empire, race and science, commerce and tourism by focusing on significant episodes and encounters in history. This is a foundational text for future studies of Australia’s relations with the Pacific, and histories of travel generally.

Refugee Journeys »

Histories of Resettlement, Representation and Resistance

Publication date: February 2021
Refugee Journeys presents stories of how governments, the public and the media have responded to the arrival of people seeking asylum, and how these responses have impacted refugees and their lives. Mostly covering the period from 1970 to the present, the chapters provide readers with an understanding of the political, social and historical contexts that have brought us to the current day. This engaging collection of essays also considers possible ways to break existing policy deadlocks, encouraging readers to imagine a future where we carry vastly different ideas about refugees, government policies and national identities.

Britain’s Second Embassy to China »

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

Authored by: Caroline Stevenson
Publication date: February 2021
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 kowtow before the emperor. Detailed analysis of British sources reveal that Amherst was well informed on the kowtow issue and made his own decision for which he took full responsibility. Success was always unlikely because of irreconcilable 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.