History Seminar Series 2018

Contemporary Histories Seminar Series

Trimester Two 2018


11 am to 12 pm

Room numbers

Burwood C.205; Waurn Ponds ic3.108 

Or connect to each session via VMP ARTSED2 (36917)

18 July 2018Rebecca Sheehan ‘Beds but no places…for a girl in the profession”: Women Filmmakers in 1970s Hollywood’.


“I came of age in the 60′s and 70′s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”—Harvey Weinstein, 2017

In the 1970s, after decades of exclusion from creative and technical roles as filmmakers in Hollywood, women worked to break down barriers to entry through broadening their access to education and training, fighting for equity and representation in industry guilds, and through establishing independent production companies and women-focused film festivals. Yet only three women—Elaine May, Lena Wertmuller, and Joan Darling—directed films for major Hollywood studios during the decade, and each of those women’s careers as filmmakers was damaged as the result. Even as women made inroads into filmmaking, they were pushed back out through a combination of being constructed as incompetent behind the camera and being represented poorly in front of it.

The historical marginalisation of women filmmakers and the conceptual quarantine of women from the discourse of authorship have been replicated historiographically in the “canonical story” of the “New Hollywood.” This story centres and lionizes male directors like Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese for reinvigorating an ailing industry with their genius. To add to these issues, film history is itself often treated as a cultural sideshow to social history. Through its examination of women filmmakers, this paper demonstrates the centrality of gendered struggles to transformations in 1970s American society and culture.

Rebecca Sheehan is the Program Director of Gender Studies and Lecturer in the Sociology of Gender at Macquarie University, and an Honorary Associate at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. Sheehan received her PhD and MA in History from the University of Southern California. Her forthcoming book, Rise of the Superwoman: How Sex Remade Gender in America’s Long 1970s, is under contract with Harvard University Press. She has published scholarly articles on gender and rock music, boxing and masculinity, and the American reception of Germaine Greer’s feminism. Her research and teaching have informed articles she has written on topics including religion, racial exploitation and cultural appropriation, women in popular music, Hillary Clinton, David Bowie, and Prince for publications including Meanjin, Overland, Mamamia, Women in Pop, and The Conversation.

25 July 2018- Emma Parker, ‘Activism and artistic representation of the Holocaust in post-war Austria’.

Abstract: In 1943, in the midst of an unprecedented struggle for world power, the Allies strategically positioned Austria as the ‘first victim’ of Nazi aggression, despite the fact that Austria had voted overwhelmingly to welcome the 1938 annexation into Nazi Germany. As a result of the Allies decision, Austria readily embraced a culture of amnesia which resulted in a decades long victim narrative.

Biography: Emma is a Ph.D candidate currently living in Salzburg, Austria. Her research examines the role that artistic engagement with the Holocaust has played in Austria’s confrontation with its National Socialist past. The work of controversial Austrian visual artist and activist, Gottfried Helnwein (b.1948), forms the primary case study in this research. Helnwein has spent the majority of his career addressing the repressive taboos that characterised his nation’s struggle with its Nazi legacy. Emma’s research will trace key political events in Austria’s post-war political history that relate to Austria’s confrontation with its Nazi past, situating the activism of Helnwein within that context. The study will examine public discourse and political debate including artistic response to Austria’s confrontation with its National Socialist history.

1 August 2018- Anna Kent, ‘Reflections on archive research in PhD- the what, the how and the where.’

AnnaKentUpdatedProfileImageAbstract: Summarising her experiences at a recent Summer Institute for the Conducting of Archival Research (SICAR) in Washington DC, and discussing her own PhD project, Anna’s seminar will focus on the process, problems and opportunities of archival research – particularly for PhD students.

This seminar will have concrete tips for archival research, such as contacts and software. It will also be an opportunity to discuss the archives you use and share your own archival tips.

8 August 2018Anna Arabindan-Kesson, ‘Vision and Value: Cotton and the Materiality of Race’. 

Abstract: This talk examines the visual relationship between the cotton trade and the representation of the black body in American culture, using historical case studies and contemporary art. Juxtaposing contemporary interventions with historical moments, it examines how cotton materially influenced the way black bodies were seen, and how black Americans saw themselves, as both enslaved and free Americans. It argues that tracing this relationship deepens our understanding of the intersections of vision, value and subjectivity in the production of racial identity in nineteenth-century America, and also today.

15 August 2018 Nick Ferns, ‘Beyond Colombo: Australian Colonial and Foreign Policy in the Age of International Development, 1945-1975’. 

Abstract: Between 1945 and 1975, the concept of development emerged as a significant feature of international affairs. Academic experts and policymakers conceived of the best ways to promote development in poorer parts of the world, becoming part of what has been referred to as the international “age of development”. This period coincided with the rise of the United States as the dominant global capitalist power, yet the newfound emphasis on development drew upon many of the assumptions and practices of earlier European colonial policies. Australian experts, policymaking bureaucrats, and politicians were deeply engaged in this process.

This paper examines Australian policy towards Papua New Guinea and Southeast Asia between 1945 and 1975 through the lens of development. Through this, it extends the history of Australian aid beyond the Colombo Plan, by bringing foreign aid and colonial policy into conversation. Developmental discourse provided the connection between Australia’s postwar engagement with Southeast Asia and its colonial administration in Papua New Guinea. By tying Australian policy to global intellectual and political trends, this paper sheds new light on policies that have previously been considered in isolation from one another. This in turn reveals the importance of following the postwar Australian engagement with transnational flows of developmental discourse, in order to gain a greater understanding of Australia’s place in its geographical region.

Biography: Nicholas Ferns completed his PhD in history at Monash University in 2017. His doctoral research examined the ways that, between 1945 and 1975, Australian colonial policy towards PNG and foreign policy towards Southeast Asia was driven by policymakers’ engagement with postwar notions of “development”. He has also published work on Australia’s engagement with the American notion of “Manifest Destiny” between 1850-1900 and on the role of personal friendships in the diplomacy of Woodrow Wilson.

22 August 2018-Sarah Pinto, ‘Unsettling Batman: Commemorating Indigenous History in Melbourne’.

PINTO, S profile pic.jpgAbstract: Australia’s commemorative landscapes are dominated by references to the past that marginalise or erase Indigenous peoples and histories. Although markers of prior and on-going Indigenous presence fill Australia’s rural and urban spaces, built commemorations typically refer to a colonial and national past without Indigenous peoples. Since the 1990s, however, Indigenous peoples and histories have been brought into Australia’s commemorative landscapes as monuments, commemorative namings, installation art, public statuary, walking trails, and other public markings have been used to commemorate Australia’s Indigenous pasts. These commemorations are not particularly monumental; for the most part they can be found in the everyday places of parks, roads, bridges and thoroughfares. Taken together, however, they represent an incursion into Australia’s commemorative cultures. This paper considers the effects of these commemorative incursions and inclusions in central Melbourne. It will trace the ways in which these commemorations have unsettled some of the commemorative markers of Melbourne’s settler foundations, and particularly those of the city’s sometime founding father, John Batman.

29 August 2018 Stephen Wheatcroft, ‘Lenin and statistical thinking in early Soviet history’.

Abstract: Well before the recent cultural turn, modern historians of Russia and the USSR had little interest in statistical thinking. But it was not always like this. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the smartest young brains across Europe were looking to Quetelet and his successors to explain how probability theory could be used to explain that social scientific laws applied to the history of large numbers of apparently independent agents.

In liberal democracies, where there was a pretence of organizing society for the good of the whole, the sum of individuals divided by their number could be used to produce a recognisable indication of ‘an average man’. And in these circumstances, statistical investigations could be safely coopted into the fabric of the state, without appearing to challenge their fundamentals. In Britain, the main association of statisticians received royal patronage and was a rather conservative body -the Royal Statistical Society, where the study of statistics flourished and advanced rapidly in relatively obscure and boring subjects like actuarial studies, seed selection, and more interestingly in brewing.

In Russia the situation was different and statistics develop in a far more challenging and dangerous way.  Trying to calculate the nature of the average Russian, with 80% of the population being impoverished peasants, was likely to produce an explosive result, when compared with more wealthy urban living standards, and especially with the luxuriant lifestyle of the court and the gentry.

Intelligent Russian youths, who were trying to make sense of their situation, in comparison with the advanced and more liberal societies in the West, were drawn, first into Romantic rebellion, and then in the late 19th century to what they thought were more scientific versions of resistance.  The story of the many young people who were drawn into Marxism and Revolutionary activities is well know, but less well known is the story of a remarkable select group of these individuals who were drawn into using statistical thinking to advance the revolution. Lenin was just one of these statistical thinking Marxist, who emerged out of this environment, and who built the Russian Central Statistical Administration as a pioneering, world class organization.  In his government Lenin initially sought out kindred statistical thinking experts. However, from 1921 as Russia was overwhelmed with a major economic crisis, and as Lenin’s health began to faulter the situation changed. The latter Lenin  and his successors moved away from the earlier positive relationship with the old statistical elite and specialists, and took up a much more negative and antagonistic relationship to them.

My paper will trace these developments and offer a very different interpretation of the History of Lenin and the early Soviet state.

5 September 2018Bronwyn Shepherd, ‘Milingimbi Methodist Mission: Belonging in the space of a historical mission’. 

Abstract: This paper explores placing belonging in historical spaces. My research centres on the experiences, interactions and practices taking place on Milingimbi Methodist mission in North Australia, during the interwar years. This mission provides an interesting space to think about belonging, because this was a place that became home and deeply significant to Yolŋu people who lived or moved there, and who formed connections under settler colonial circumstances. It was also a site of non-Indigenous belonging, which included European and Fijian missionaries and anthropologists. I consider how attention across the breadth of archival material produced from these spaces, which includes material recorded by missionaries, anthropologists, and memoirs of descendants, enables a view to see these different forms of connection to a place as co-constitutive. This does not disregard unequal power relations in these places, but it brings into view the co-production of forms of belonging that are not identical but are connected. Reading these accounts alongside one another—including looking at spaces between them, where they overlap and where they don’t—draws attention to the contexts and processes of their production. Such an approach offers a more nuanced understanding about Indigenous experiences which lies beyond the text and seeks to encourage rather than obscures encounters with mission history by those who continue to live and interact in these spaces.

12 September 2018- Tiffany Shellam, ‘Assembling a fish archive: Robert Neill and Menang Nyungar knowledge’.

Dr Tiffany ShellamAbstract: In the National Museum of Scotland there are 27 preserved fish that were caught in Albany, Western Australia, in the early 1840s. These fish were collected and preserved – but not caught – by Robert Neill, the town’s Commissariat Officer. Being in charge of the colonial food supply, he issued rations to the Menang Nyungar people, on whose Country the town occupied, and this meant that he got to know many Menang people, fishing, talking and working with them. In addition to the fish in Scotland, The Natural History Museum of London houses a large portfolio of 67 drawings of the same fish, sketched by Neill, accompanied by his manuscript notes. And in Albany, today, Menang Nyungar people hold knowledge about these fish (some now extinct) their habitats and the changing coastal environment. This paper explores this disconnected collection of natural history knowledge and asks what it might mean to bring them together.

26 September 2018-Julie Suares, ‘J.B. Chifley and Australian Foreign Policy Towards Asia’

Abstract: This paper is a study of Australian Prime Minister J.B. Chifley’s response to the momentous changes that occurred in post-war Asia as a result of the dismantling of the European colonial world order, in a period in which the world was increasingly divided into two polarised and  competing power blocs with the emergence of the Cold War. Chifley’s response to the rise of Asian nationalism was based on several factors: economic and strategic security for Australia and a moral belief in the principles of social and economic justice.

There was an urgent need for intelligence about Australia’s region, its nationalist leaders and the strength of popular support for the nationalist movement in Asia. Australian governments had previously relied on the British Foreign Office to provide intelligence and guidance on Australian foreign policy. This was no longer acceptable to the Chifley government; it was essential to obtain independent assessment of the situation on the ground. This was achieved by intelligence gathering exercises such as the missions to Batavia in 1945 and to Southeast Asia in 1948 by political scientist and broadcaster, William Macmahon Ball, and by government support and attendance at international conferences in Asia.

As a result, the post-war Chifley government pushed for a re-orientation of Australia’s foreign policy towards the Indo-Pacific region. Despite significant political constraints, the government adopted a distinctive and innovative foreign policy towards nations such as Indonesia and India in the immediate post-war years. However, scholars have generally preferred to situate Chifley in the domestic arena focusing primarily on his involvement in national issues. This paper will show that Chifley had a great interest in, and extensive knowledge of foreign affairs, and a special interest in Asia.

3 October 2018- Jon Ritchie, ‘Voices from the War: the PNG in World War Two oral history collection?’

Abstract:  Julia Gillard announced at the conclusion of her only visit as Prime Minister to PNG in May 2013 that the Australian Government would fund a project ‘to document an oral history of Papua New Guineans’ experiences during World War II … in the spirit of Kokoda, and the other battlefields of the Pacific Campaign’. This project has occupied me, as well as Deakin colleagues including Kirstie Barry and Victoria Stead, for much of the last five years.  The project was conducted in collaboration with the PNG National Museum and Art Gallery, and it has also involved researchers from two universities in PNG. It received funding from the Australian Government, initially through the Kokoda Initiative, the program administered jointly with PNG’s government to channel development funds to communities living in the vicinity of the famed Kokoda Trail, and then through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as part of Australia’s support for governance projects in PNG.

In my presentation, I will discuss some aspects of the project that may be of interest to CHRG members, including the relationship with the various Australian government agencies and the PNG National Museum. I will also comment on the way that oral history research is applied in a Melanesian cultural context and consider the question of ownership of the research material.

3 October 2018- 

Dr Filip Slaveski is offering a different CHRG seminar format for our last session for the year. Below is Filip’s invitation to what is sure to be a very interesting, and creative, collaborative session-

Hi All,
Instead of giving a normal seminar next week, I’d much rather speak only shorty on my research on post-WWII Ukraine and the Soviet Union in order to tease out its universal themes and ask you discuss how they may feature in your own work. This exercise can only be successful if we have a critical mass of willing attendees.
Please let organisers* know soon if you would like to come to discuss the following:
• The enduring vagaries of war and conflict which endure long after the cessation of hostilities (Hunger, violence, trauma etc.)
• The challenges of rebuilding and reinventing society destroyed by war and conflict
• Contemporary methodological approaches to understanding these themes
(*You can rsvp by commenting contacting CHRG )


Trimester One 2018

Time: Wednesdays, 11am – 12pm

Room numbers

Burwood C.205; Waurn Ponds ic3.108 (unless otherwise stated: 4, 11 and 18 April)

Or connect to each session via VMP ARTSED2 (36917)

Select the seminar title to view an abstract.

14 March 2018 – Dr Sally Percival Wood, Deakin University

‘Dissent’: The Student Press in 1960s Australia

Sally is an Australia-Asia historian and Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Her postdoctoral project is the study of the 40th Anniversary of Australia-ASEAN Dialogue Partnership. This represents an extension of her doctoral research on the Bandung Conference as it traces the post-war foreign policies of decolonising Asia and Australia and how these transitions continue to shape Australia’s relations with Asia. Sally also worked with Asialink at the University of Melbourne (2010-12) where she managed the Track Two Diplomacy program, and in 2014 gave public lectures in Vietnam, Cambodia and Brunei and Darussalam on the Australia-ASEAN Dialogue Partnership for the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade.


21 March 2018 – Professor Stefan Berger

National History Writing  and National Identity Formation – Global Perspectives

Stefan is the Director of the Institute for Social Movements, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, and Chairman of the committee of the Library of the Ruhr Foundation. He is Professor of Social History at the Ruhr University. He specializes in nationalism and national identity studies, historiography and historical theory, comparative labour studies, and the history of industrial heritage


28 March 2018 – Professor Richard Trembath

A Constant Source of Agony: 1978 – Fitting Chiropractic and Osteopathy into the Australian Health System

Richard is the author of several books, mostly in conjunction with colleagues.  These include All Care and Responsibility: A History of Nursing in Victoria with Donna Hellier; A Different Sort of War: Australians in Korea 1950-53; Divine Discontent – The Brotherhood of St Laurence: A History (with Colin Holden);Witnesses to War: The History of Australian Conflict Reporting (with Fay Anderson).  His most recent book is Defending Country: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Military Service Since 1945 (with Noah Riseman) which was published in April 2016.

Richard’s current research interests are the history of military veterans’ organisations and the social history of contemporary medicine.

4 April 2018 – Dr Maria Quirk

‘Work Wives: The Shared Workplaces and Friendship Networks of Creative Women in Melbourne, Dublin and London, 1900-1950’

Maria is an historian and curator of art and women’s history. She has taught British and world history at the University of Queensland, and undertaken research fellowships and projects at the State Library of Queensland and Queensland’s Supreme Court Library. Her research interests encompass art, design and literature post 1800, women’s and gender history, material culture, professional identity and cultural history.

*Please note that this seminar will be held in room JB2.107 at Waurn Ponds

11 April 2018 – Associate Professor Tim Sherratt

‘Hacking Cultural Heritage Collections to Understand the Limits of Access’

Tim is a historian and hacker who researches the possibilities and politics of digital cultural collections. Tim has worked across the cultural heritage sector and has been developing online resources relating to libraries, archives, museums and history since 1993. He joined the University of Canberra in 2015 as Associate Professor of Digital Heritage. You can find him at timsherratt.org or as @wragge on Twitter.

*Please note that this seminar will be held in room JB2.107 at Waurn Ponds

18 April 2018 – Rebecca Cairns

‘Asia and Senior Secondary History Curriculum Policy: A History of the Curricular Present’

Rebecca has recently completed her PhD and is a lecturer in Education for the Master of Applied Learning and Teaching at Waurn Ponds. Prior to this she enjoyed twelve years teaching History, Philosophy and English in secondary schools in Victoria and Far North Queensland. Her interest in modern Chinese history led to her studying in Chinese and living in Nanjing and Beijing for a year.

*Please note that this seminar will be held in room  F2.009 at Burwood and JB2.107 at Waurn Ponds

2 May 2018 – Associate Professor Clare Corbould

‘From Richard Pryor to Hamilton: African Americans and the American Revolution in an Age of Conservatism’

Clare is Associate Professor in the Contemporary Histories Research Group. She is the author of Becoming African Americans and co-edited Remembering the Revolution: History, Memory, and Nation Making from Independence to the Civil War. In addition to the project above, which was funded by an ARC DP grant in 2013, she is writing a book about interviews with ex-slaves conducted in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.

9 May 2018 – Dr Kristine Moruzi

‘Charitable Migration: Children, Family and Nation at Barnardos’

Kristine is a lecturer and ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher in the School of Communication and Creative Arts. Her monograph, Constructing Girlhood through the Periodical Press, 1850-1915 (Ashgate, 2012) was a semi-finalist for the Colby Book Prize honouring the scholarly book that most advances the understanding of the nineteenth-century British newspaper or periodical press. With Michelle Smith and Clare Bradford, she recently completed a manuscript entitled From Colonial to Modern: Girlhood in Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand Print Culture (1840-1940), currently under review at the University of Toronto Press. Her DECRA project is on The Charitable Child: Children and Philanthropy in the Nineteenth Century. She co-edited Girls’ School Stories, 1749-1929 (2014), a six-volume anthology published in Routledge’s “History of Feminism” series. She is also co-editor of Colonial Girlhood in Literature, Culture and History, 1840-1950 (2014) and a special issue of the Australasian Journal of Victorian Studies on “Colonial Girlhood” in 2013.

16 May 2018 – Karen Donnelly

‘The AIF Concert Parties WW1: Pre-war Theatrical Networks and their Transformation’

Karen is a postgraduate student in the School of Communication and Creative Arts at Deakin University. 

23 May 2018 – Dr Joanna Cruickshank

‘Reacting to the Past: Gaming History’

Jo is a Senior Lecturer in History in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Joanna teaches units in the field of gender, Pacific and Indigenous history, and her research examines the role of religion in British and Australian history. These include studies of missionary women involved in Aboriginal missions, a history of sermons in the British world and colonial Australia and research on the religious understandings of colonial humanitarians. Joanna is the Reviews Co-Editor of the Journal of Religious History.

30 May 2018 – Professor David Lowe and Professor Mark McGillivray

‘The History of Australia’s Foreign Aid: National Values and Aid Allocation’

David is Chair in Contemporary History in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Education. Mark is Research Professor Of International Development in the Faculty of Arts and Education.