History on a Monday

Seminar Series for Postgraduates and Faculty

Held at 12.10-1.30
in Woolley Common Room, Woolley Building A22
(Enter Woolley through the entrance on Science Road and climb the stairs in front of you. Turn left down the corridor, and the WCR is the door at the end of the hall)
Click here for map

2016 Coordinators:
Professor Mark McKenna and Dr Miranda Johnson
click here to email

The semester at a glance

Semester 2, 2015

Date Speaker Title
27 July Tanya Evans

Family history, feminism and empowerment

3 August Frances Flanagan Remembering the Irish Revolution
10 August

Chris Maxworth, Sam Killmore,
Chris Holdridge

Postgraduate projects and prospects in History
17 August Warwick Anderson

Filming fore, shooting scientists: the entangled histories of medical research, avant‐garde filmmaking, and documentary cinema

24 August Judith Keene TBA
31 August Simon Ville, Sophie Loy-Wilson, Chin Jou Panel: Marketing history
7 September Gary Werskey, Anita Callaway The "Australia" Australians saw in the Heidelberg era: revisiting the art of AH Fullwood
14 September Penny Russell, Ben Mercer, Heather Garnsey Panel: Digital genealogy and individual lives
21 September Tamson Pietsch The floating university
28 September Mid-semester break
No session
5 October Labor Day holiday
No session
12 October James Curran ‘When allies turn on you’: Nixonian rage at Swedish and Australian condemnation of the Christmas Bombings
19 October Philip Stern The Mughal siege of Bombay, 1689–90 in global perspective:
space, sovereignty, and empire
26 October David Hunt Putting the story back into Australian history

Details correct as at 22 October 2015

Semester 1, 2015

Date Speaker Title
9 March Tamson Pietsch, James Drown, David Garner Panel: historical geography and spatiality
16 March Jude Philp The Animal Parts of Objects: History in Museums
23 March Janet Golden  Babies Made Us Modern
30 March Jon Lawrence
Reconstructing the politics of everyday life, 1945-1990
6 April Mid-semester break No session
13 April Kimberley Knight Droplets of heaven: tear relics in the high middle ages
20 April

Sheila Fitzpatrick

On Stalin’s team: the years of living dangerously in Soviet politics
27 April Vanessa Heggie Manliness, amateurism and the British climber in the Himalaya: real men, real mountains?
4 May Cincy McCreery Remembering Prince Alfred and the voyages of HMS Galatea (1867–71)
11 May Glenda Sluga and colleagues What's new in inernational history?
18 May Vannessa Hearman Indonesia and accounting for the 1965–66 anti-communist killings
25 May Alecia Simmonds, Jamie Dunk,
Ivan Crozier
Panel: the case in historical methodology
1 June Iain McCalman,
David Schlosberg
Spotlight:Sydney Environment Institute


The floating university
Tamson Pietsch
In September 1926, 500 American university students left New York aboard the Floating University, a journey around the world that involved stops at forty-seven ports and visits to foreign dignitaries including the King of Siam, the Sultan of Jodhpur, Mussolini and the Pope. Organised by New York University's Professor James Lough, and promising a ‘world education’ to its students, the venture was influenced by the new psychology, the internationalism of the period, as well as economic and social imperatives. But if its organisers thought the world would be the site for fashioning American students, the voyage became an anxious undertaking, as well as a stage for nationalist and anti-imperial politics in the places that it stopped.

The Animal Parts of Objects: History in Museums
Dr. Jude Philp,
Senior Curator of Macleay Museum
Between 1870 and 1890, anthropologists, explorers, missionaries, traders, and government officers pursued the fauna of southeast coastal Papua New Guinea. In doing so, they also collected objects made by the people they encountered. Thousands of animal skins were sold and donated to museums along with such objects. Within the museum, however, the relationship between animal and object was severed. Frequently museum processes also led to a slow displacement between collector-information and museum item. In this paper, I examine the kinds of information museums maintained. I am particularly concerned with the ways museum systems of categorization created ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ objects.

Modern American Babies
Dr Janet Golden,
Professor of History at Rutgers University
Janet will present a brief overview of her book: Babies Made Us Modern, which analyses the dramatic transformations in the lives of babies resulting from ongoing changes in American life in the domains of medicine, the marketplace, politics, demography, family life and popular culture. After that, she’ll discuss the paradoxical “value” of babies in the early twentieth century, when people paid to see them in incubators and paid to give them away.

Indonesia and accounting for the 1965–66 anti-communist killings
Vannessa Hearman
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1965-66 anti-communist violence in Indonesia in which half a million people were killed. Since the fall of the authoritarian Suharto regime in 1998, Indonesia has done little to account for the anti-communist violence, despite demands from survivors and human rights organisations. This paper examines those groups' efforts in the last years of the Yudhoyono administration (2012-2014) to push the government to act and the extent to which these efforts signal abandonment of the central government, in preference for local grassroots initiatives. These local initiative however are informed by global activism on human rights. In the context of Indonesia, what are tensions between local initiatives and these global discourses?

Family History, Feminism and Empowerment
Tanya Evans
This paper theorises the practice of family history, investigates the troubled relationship between family historians and academic historians and explores some of its meanings for practitioners. It reveals how family history has made contributions to women’s and gender history, how a feminist consciousness has developed among some family historians, and the ways in which the academy has devalued the practice of genealogy in gendered ways. My focus will be on genealogists who worked with me on the history of The Benevolent Society, Australia's oldest surviving charity.

Remembering Prince Alfred and the voyages of HMS Galatea (1867–71)
Cincy McCreery
In 1867, Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, Duke of Edinburgh and the second son of Queen Victoria, embarked on the first global royal tour. For the next five years Alfred, an officer in the Royal Navy and Captain of HMS Galatea, visited Britain’s major settler colonies in the Southern Hemisphere (Australia, New Zealand, the Cape of Good Hope), the important crown colonies of India, Ceylon and Hong Kong, the empires of China and Japan, as well as a diverse range of key port cities and islands across the globe, from Manila to Mauritius. More British subjects (and non-subjects) saw Alfred than any other member of the British Royal family before the twentieth century, and his attempted assassination in Sydney in 1868 sent shock waves around the empire. Yet Alfred’s voyages aboard HMS Galatea have been largely forgotten. This paper provides an overview of these voyages, argues for their historical significance and considers why they have received scant historical attention. The paper pays particular attention to the material culture created in response to the voyages and will be accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation.

Psychiatric case histories as objects of psychiatric knowledge
Ivan Crozier

Psychiatrists frame their expertise around evidence that has – for most of the field's history – been collated in psychiatric texts, presented as case histories. Such case histories are often standardised; they are presented to the community as evidence for a psychiatric classification, or a variation from or within such a classification, or as the exemplary way to use a particular psychiatric technique in the treatment of the patient, etc. Sometimes psychiatric cases are the basis of legal judgements, and in these instances we can see the interaction of two very powerful social institutions, as the individual is framed both legally and psychiatrically. In all typical cases, the patient does not have much of a voice - although occasionally their voices can be located.

Using examples from the history of psychiatry, this paper sketches some of the sociological ways of looking at the practices surrounding psychiatric case histories, and reflects on how these can be used to better understand how psychiatry was employed to control the mentally ill. It suggests that it is not best historical practice to simply read the 'surfaces' of case histories in psychiatric texts as windows into the past lives of the mentally ill or psychiatrically stigmatized. Rather, focusing on the practices that surround these objects (in their selection, negotiation, interpretation, etc.) allows for a more nuanced understanding of the role of case history in the history of psychiatry.

The Case in Historical Methodology: a Legal Historian’s Perspective
Isabella Alexander

For the lawyer and the law student, legal cases lie at the heart of what they do on a daily basis. They provide both the substance and form of legal work and legal knowledge. For the historian, however, they offer something different, and for the legal historian something else again. In this talk I start by considering “what is a legal case?” and set out some of the key things that lawyers do with, or want from, cases. Drawing on my own work, I will then go on to compare this with what historians (legal and otherwise) want from cases, and finish by considering some of the potential pitfalls and problems to watch out for when making use of them as an historical source.

'Feigned Madness and Historical Methodology'
Jamie Dunk

In this paper I make an episode of feigned madness serve as five ‘cases’ of, in turn, poor sentencing, poor government, poor judgment, lay diagnosis, and colonial disorder. The cases made of madness in penal New South Wales show that governors, magistrates, and doctors were both more and less than they were supposed to be, and that the executive and legal structures of the colony were in shambles.