We focus on the unfinished business of the past, especially as it surfaces in contemporary public debates, disputes and narratives. We deploy the plural term ‘histories’ deliberately to signal both the contestability of explanatory stories and also our embrace of different theoretical and methodological vantage points – some of which are more frequently found in disciplines other than history.
We are especially concerned with three themes that often intersect with each other. One is the colonial project, and its aftermath, in Australia, Asia and the Pacific, including race, religion and cultural authority in local encounters; history and social science in the civilising mission; and new relationships in a postcolonial world. Another theme is life stories, including biography/autobiography, heroes/villains, scandalous lives and the phenomenon of public intellectuals. The third theme is conflict and memory in the 20th century, including the politics of commemoration, grief and loss, public memory and debates.