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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.

Interpreting Myanmar »

A Decade of Analysis

Authored by: Andrew Selth
Publication date: 2020
Since the abortive 1988 pro-democracy uprising, Myanmar (formerly Burma) has attracted increased attention from a wide range of observers. Yet, despite all the statements, publications and documentary films made about the country over the past 32 years, it is still little known and poorly understood. It remains the subject of many myths, mysteries and misconceptions. Between 2008 and 2019, Andrew Selth clarified and explained contemporary developments in Myanmar on the Lowy Institute’s internationally acclaimed blog, The Interpreter. This collection of his 97 articles provides a fascinating and informative record of that critical period, and helps to explain many issues that remain relevant today.

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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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Made in China Journal: Volume 5, Issue 2, 2020 »

Publication date: October 2020
The most Gothic description of Capital is also the most accurate. Capital is an abstract parasite, an insatiable vampire and zombie-maker; but the living flesh it converts into dead labor is ours, and the zombies it makes are us. There is a sense in which it simply is the case that the political elite are our servants; the miserable service they provide for us is to launder our libidos, to obligingly re-present for us our disavowed desires as if they had nothing to do with us. – Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism (2009) Ghostly analogies drawn from the gothic imaginary are common in the Marxist canon, with the most famous case in point being the incipit of Marx and Engels’s Manifesto of the Communist Party, where readers are told that ‘the spectre of communism’ is haunting Europe. Far from being considered curious aberrations, these preternatural metaphors have given rise to a whole literature on spectral capitalism that spans to our present stage of late capitalism. In the 1980s, Aihwa Ong made waves with her study of spirit possessions on the shop floors of modern factories in Malaysia, in which she argued that these spectres represented a form of resistance by workers otherwise powerless in the face of capital. In another instance from the 1990s, Jean and John Comaroff introduced the idea of ‘occult economies’ to make sense of the wave of episodes in which real or imagined magical means were deployed in pursuit of material gains that occurred in South Africa after the end of apartheid. While both conceptualisations received a fair share of criticism—not least for presenting the ghosts of capitalism as dreams and the anthropologist as the psychoanalyst instead of dealing with the proper social and historical context of these phenomena—this issue of the Made in China Journal cuts the Gordian knot by focusing on how individuals in China and other contexts in Asia live and interact with the supernatural. In some cases, ghosts, fortune-tellers, shamans, sorcerers, zombies, corpse brides and aliens merely assist people to get by and cope with the difficulties they face in their daily lives; in others, these beings play subversive roles, undermining the rules that underpin contemporary society. In both cases, they challenge the status quo, hence the title ‘spectral revolutions’.

Niche Wars »

Australia in Afghanistan and Iraq, 2001–2014

Publication date: 2020
Australia invoked the ANZUS Alliance following the Al Qaeda attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001. But unlike the calls to arms at the onset of the world wars, Australia decided to make only carefully calibrated force contributions in support of the US-led coalition campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why is this so? Niche Wars examines Australia’s experience on military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2001 to 2014. These operations saw over 40 Australian soldiers killed and hundreds wounded. But the toll since has been greater. For Afghanistan and Iraq the costs are hard to measure. Why were these forces deployed? What role did Australia play in shaping the strategy and determining the outcome? How effective were they? Why is so little known about Australia’s involvement in these campaigns? What lessons can be learned from this experience? Niche Wars commences with a scene-setting overview of Australia’s military involvement in the Middle East over more than a century. It then draws on unique insights from many angles, across a spectrum of men and women, ranging from key Australian decision makers, practitioners and observers. The book includes a wide range of perspectives in chapters written by federal government ministers, departmental secretaries, service commanders, task force commanders, sailors, soldiers, airmen and women, international aid workers, diplomats, police, journalists, coalition observers and academics. Niche Wars makes for compelling reading but also stands as a reference work on how and why Australia became entangled in these conflicts that had devastating consequences. If lessons can be learned from history about how Australia uses its military forces, this book is where to find them.

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ANU Historical Journal II: Number 2 »

Publication date: October 2020
The second issue of the ANU Historical Journal II showcases the research of authors ranging from undergraduate students through to professors, synthesising multiple generations of historical scholarship in the one volume. This issue of the ANUHJ II contributes to a plethora of subjects, with articles considering Australian journalists in China at the turn of the twentieth century; the moral messages of seventeenth-century Dutch Realist art; the characterisation of the ‘modern’ for 1920s women in Home magazine; how we research and teach Western Australian gay history; the production of Robert J. Hawke’s legacy; how Indonesia’s Borobudur temple reflects the country’s nationalism; the ‘housewife syndrome’ in mid-twentieth century America; Anzac and the formation of Australians’ sense of the past; and John Howard’s Indigenous policy portfolio. Further to this, contributors review some recently published books, while leading historians reflect on the past in lecture and essay form.

Meaning, Life and Culture »

In conversation with Anna Wierzbicka

Publication date: 2020
This book is dedicated to Anna Wierzbicka, one of the most influential and innovative linguists of her generation. Her work spans a number of disciplines, including anthropology, cultural psychology, cognitive science, philosophy and religious studies, as well as her home base of linguistics. She is best known for the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) approach to meaning—a versatile tool for exploring ‘big questions’ concerning the diversity and universals of people’s experience in the world. In this volume, Anna Wierzbicka’s former students, old and current colleagues, ‘kindred spirits’ and ‘sparring partners’ engage with her ideas and diverse body of work. These authors cover topics from the grammar of action verbs to cross-cultural pragmatics, and over 30 languages from around the world are represented. The chapters in Part 1 focus on the NSM approach and cover four themes: lexico-grammatical semantics, cultural keywords, semantics of nouns, and emotion. In Part 2, the contributors connect with a meaning-based approach from their own intellectual perspectives, including syntax, anthropology, cognitive linguistics and sociolinguistics. The deep humanistic perspective, wide-ranging themes and interdisciplinary nature of Wierzbicka’s research are reflected in the contributions. The common thread running through all chapters is the primacy of meaning to the understanding of language and culture.

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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.