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International Review of Environmental History: Volume 6, Issue 1, 2020 »

Edited by: James Beattie
Publication date: 2020
International Review of Environmental History takes an interdisciplinary and global approach to environmental history.  It encourages scholars to think big and to tackle the challenges of writing environmental histories across different methodologies, nations, and time-scales. The journal embraces interdisciplinary, comparative and transnational methods, while still recognising the importance of locality in understanding these global processes. The journal's goal is to be read across disciplines, not just within history. It publishes on all thematic and geographic topics of environmental history, but especially encourage articles with perspectives focused on or developed from the southern hemisphere and the ‘global south’.

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Consolidated Gold Fields in Australia »

The Rise and Decline of a British Mining House, 1926–1998

Authored by: Robert Porter
Publication date: 2020
Consolidated Gold Fields was a major British mining house founded by Cecil Rhodes in 1892. Diversifying from its South African gold interests, the company invested widely during the following century. This included investments in the Western Australian gold sector from the 1920s and exploration and mining activities elsewhere in Australia and the Territory of New Guinea. In the 1960s, Consolidated Gold Fields Australia (CGFA) was formed. CGFA had ambitious plans and the financial backing from London to establish itself as one of the main diversified mining companies in Australia. Investments were held in the historic Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company, in Renison, and it was one of the first groups to develop iron ore deposits in the Pilbara of Western Australia. It also acquired a major interest in mineral sands. While the London-based Consolidated Gold Fields ceased to exist in 1989, taken over and dismembered by renowned corporate raider Hanson Plc, its Australian subsidiary, renamed Renison Goldfields Consolidated (RGC), continued for another nine years as a diversified mining group before it suffered its own corporate demise, facilitated by Hanson. CGFA and RGC were important participants in Australia’s post–World War II mining sector. This book is a history of a once great British mining-finance house and its investments in Australia. Consolidated Gold Fields had a rich and broad history in Australia; its ultimate fate did not demonstrate its potential as an Australian mining company.

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Australian Journal of Biography and History: No. 3, 2020 »

Publication date: 2020
The articles in this issue of the Australian Journal of Biography and History consider subjects who have lived across and between national and internal Australian boundaries, and the authors have thus been compelled to address the methodological and theoretical problems of mobility. Kate Bagnall addresses the seemingly insurmountable problem of writing about Chinese women who settled in Australia in the second half of the twentieth century. Contrasting with the dearth of information on Chinese women immigrants to colonial New South Wales, Jackie Dickenson’s chapter on Hong Kong–based merchant and trader Melbourne-born Elma Kelly (1895–1974) benefits from an abundance of documentation, both in the realm of the personal and official. In her article on the Corney family in the aftermath of World War I, Alexandra McKinnon considers the record of loss and sorrow preserved in the archives of the Australian War Memorial. Very different methodological questions are explored by Suzanne Robinson in her reflections on writing a biography of the Australian composer Peggy Glanville-Hicks (1912–90). As a feminist biographer, Robinson had to face a most ‘troublesome question’ of whether her subject’s considerable imperfections, which became evident during research, risked undermining her status as a composer, particularly one whose reputation was yet to be fully established. A different form of methodological question is posed by Pat Buckridge in his article on three generations of Macdougall men, each of whom became journalists—Dugald (1833–79), who also excelled in business and politics, Dugald the younger (1872–1947), and James (1903–95). The question Buckridge considers is whether his subjects can ‘usefully be considered as a grouped biographical entity signifying more than the sum of its parts, which is to say more than the three separate lives’. By contrast, Peter Crabb’s article on the colonial goldfields reporter John Augustus Hux (1826–64) relates the story of a single figure who, having made connections in his English homeland that would serve him well in Australia, provided eyewitness accounts of a number of significant goldfields in New South Wales, which were widely read in the colony and thus helped to form popular images of the industry. Finally, in a departure from the theme of mobility characterising the other contributions, Nichola Garvey documents her experiences of working with the Western Australian iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest to research and write his biography. In what was conceived by both the author and the subject as an ‘authorised biography’, Garvey’s article raises some fundamental questions about biographical writing of living persons, including the utility and pitfalls of what she calls ‘expressivist anthropology’, as well as the scope of authorisation in biographical writing.

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In from the Cold »

Reflections on Australia’s Korean War

Publication date: March 2020
Open hostilities in the Korean War ended on the 27th of July 1953. The armistice that was signed at that time remains the poignant symbol of an incomplete conclusion – of a war that retains a distinct possibility of resuming at short notice. So what did Australia contribute to the Korean War from June 1950 to July 1953? What were the Australians doing there? How significant was the contribution and what difference did it make? What has that meant for Australia since then, and what might that mean for Australia into the future? Australians served at sea, on land and in the air alongside their United Nations partners during the war. They fought with distinction, from bitterly cold mountain tops, to the frozen decks of aircraft carriers and in dogfights overhead. This book includes the perspectives of leading academics, practitioners and veterans contributing fresh ideas on the conduct and legacy of the Korean War. International perspectives from allies and adversaries provide contrasting counterpoints that help create a more nuanced understanding of Australia’s relatively small but nonetheless important contribution of forces in the Korean War. The book finishes with some reflections on implications that the Korean War still carries for Australia and the world to this day.

Vietnam Vanguard »

The 5th Battalion's Approach to Counter-Insurgency, 1966

Publication date: February 2020
The Vietnam War, and Australia’s part in it, was a major military event, calling for willingness to face death and destruction on the battlefield on the part of those sent there, especially the men of our infantry battalions who formed the spearhead of our forces in Vietnam. For many reasons, the Australian public know relatively little about what our Army did in Vietnam during the war, particularly during the years of our peak commitment, 1965–72. This book attempts to make the true nature of the war clearer to readers, emphasising how hard fought it was during major operations. Twenty-seven of the contributing authors of this book were involved in the 1966 deployment of the 1st Australian Task Force into Phuoc Tuy Province. This formation was the first Australian Army force larger than an infantry battalion group to be deployed into a major war since World War II. 5th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (5 RAR), was in the vanguard as the task force’s first element committed to operations to seize and occupy Nui Dat base and embark on establishing dominance over the enemy. The narratives presented in this book give rare insights into thoughts of the soldiers at the time and how they have come to view the Australian Government’s hurried expansion of its initial commitment to that war, the Army’s state of preparedness for that wider involvement, and how those in its forefront adapted to get the job done, both in and out of operations, despite numerous shortcomings in higher level planning. Both professional soldiers and conscripted national servicemen have contributed viewpoints to these pages.

People and Place »

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island in History and Literature

Authored by: Len Richardson
Publication date: 2020
This book traces the enduring relationship between history, people and place that has shaped the character of a single region in a manner perhaps unique within the New Zealand experience. It explores the evolution of a distinctive regional literature that both shaped and was shaped by the physical and historical environment that inspired it. Looking westwards towards Australia and long shut off within New Zealand by the South Island’s rugged Southern Alps, the West Coast was a land of gold, coal and timber. In the 1950s and 1960s, it nurtured a literature that embodied a sense of belonging to an Australasian world and captured the aspirations of New Zealand’s emergent radical nationalism. More recent West Coast writers, observing the hollowing out of their communities, saw in miniature and in advance the growing gulf between city and regional economies aligned to an older economic order losing its relevance. Were they chronicling the last hurrah of a retreating age or crafting a literature of regional resistance?

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Roars from the Mountain »

Colonial Management of the 1951 Volcanic Disaster at Mount Lamington

Authored by: R. Wally Johnson
Publication date: 2020
Mount Lamington broke out in violent eruption on 21 January 1951, killing thousands of Orokaiva people, devastating villages and destroying infrastructure. Generations of Orokavia people had lived on the rich volcanic soils of Mount Lamington, apparently unaware of the deadly volcanic threat that lay dormant beneath them. Also unaware were the Europeans who administered the Territory of Papua and New Guinea at the time of the eruption, and who were uncertain about how to interpret the increasing volcanic unrest on the mountain in the preceding days of the disaster. Roars from the Mountain seeks to address why so many people died at Mount Lamington by examining the large amount of published and unpublished records that are available on the 1951 disaster. The information sources also include the results of interviews with survivors and with people who were part of the relief, recovery and remembrance phases of what can still be regarded as one of Australia’s greatest natural-hazard disasters.

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The Bugis Chronicle of Bone »

Publication date: 2020
The Bugis Chronicle of Bone is a masterwork in the historiographical tradition of South Sulawesi in Indonesia. Written in the late seventeenth century for a very specific political purpose, it describes the steady growth of the kingdom of Bone from the fourteenth century onwards. The local conquests of the fifteenth century, closely linked to agricultural expansion, give way to the long conflict with the Makasar state of Gowa in the sixteenth century. Forced Islamisation in 1611 is dealt with in detail, leading finally to first contact with the Dutch East India Company in 1667. This edition presents a diplomatic version of the best Bugis text, together with the first full English translation and an extensive introduction covering the philological approach to the edition, as well as the historical and cultural significance of the work. A structure based on the reigns of successive rulers allows for stories about the circumstances of each ruler and, particularly, the often dramatic processes and politics of succession. The chronicle is a rich source for historians and anthropologists seeking to understand societies beyond Europe. It provides a window on to this Austronesian-speaking society before the impact of significant external influences. This is history from within, covering more than three centuries.

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Australia’s Fertility Transition »

A study of 19th-century Tasmania

Authored by: Helen Moyle
Publication date: February 2020
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most countries in Europe and English-speaking countries outside Europe experienced a fertility transition, where fertility fell from high levels to relatively low levels. England and the other English-speaking countries experienced this from the 1870s, while fertility in Australia began to fall in the 1880s. This book investigates the fertility transition in Tasmania, the second settled colony of Australia, using both statistical evidence and historical sources. The book examines detailed evidence from the 1904 New South Wales Royal Commission into the Fall in the Birth Rate, which the Commissioners regarded as applying not only to NSW, but to every state in Australia. Many theories have been proposed as to why fertility declined at this time: theories of economic and social development; economic theories; diffusion theories; the spread of secularisation; increased availability of artificial methods of contraception; and changes in the rates of infant and child mortality. The role of women in the fertility transition has generally been ignored. The investigation concludes that fertility declined in Tasmania in the late 19th century in a period of remarkable social and economic transformation, with industrialisation, urbanisation, improvements in transport and communication, increasing levels of education and opportunities for social mobility. One of the major social changes was in the status and role of women, who became the driving force behind the fertility decline.

Debating Lapita »

Distribution, Chronology, Society and Subsistence

Publication date: December 2019
‘This volume is the most comprehensive review of Lapita research to date, tackling many of the lingering questions regarding origin and dispersal. Multidisciplinary in nature with a focus on summarising new findings, but also identifying important gaps that can help direct future research.’ — Professor Scott Fitzpatrick, Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon ‘This substantial volume offers a welcome update on the definition of the Lapita culture. It significantly refreshes the knowledge on this foundational archaeological culture of the Pacific Islands in providing new data on sites and assemblages, and new discussions of hypotheses previously proposed.’ — Dr Frédérique Valentin, Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Paris This volume comprises 23 chapters that focus on the archaeology of Lapita, a cultural horizon associated with the founding populations who first colonised much of the south west Pacific some 3000 years ago. The Lapita culture has been most clearly defined by its distinctive dentate-stamped decorated pottery and the design system represented on it and on further incised pots. Modern research now encompasses a whole range of aspects associated with Lapita and this is reflected in this volume. The broad overlapping themes of the volume—Lapita distribution and chronology, society and subsistence—relate to research questions that have long been debated in relation to Lapita.