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

2014 Coordinators:
Miranda Johnson and Peter Hobbins
Click here to email

The semester at a glance

Semester 2, 2014

Date Speaker Title
4 August Sam Moyn & Marco Duranti New perspectives on the history of human rights
11 August Honni van Rijswijk, Denise Donlon, Sarah Crawford Panel: Histories of violence
18 August Robert Aldrich, Felicity Berry,
Sarah Dunstan
Panel: How do individuals construct belonging and a sense of self in the context of Empires?
25 August Helen Dunstan Of corpsely chaos and necropolitical order, or who really ruled the roost in 1730s China
1 September Nick Eckstein Poisonous neighbours: tracking plague through the streets of Florence
8 September Mike McDonnell An American tragedy: rethinking the American Revolution
15 September Warwick Anderson, Sarah Walsh, Sebastian Gil Riano Spotlight: Race and Ethnicity in the Global South
22 September Stefan Collini (in conversation with Chris Hilliard) Intellectual history and English literature
29 September COMMON WEEK  
6 October LABOUR DAY  
13 October Thomas Adams Robert Charles' worlds:  rethinking Jim Crow from the perspective of the city
20 October Ivan Crozier Emil Kraepelin and Transcultural Psychiatry
27 October Daniel Spence and
Harry Sargent

"Seafaring race" theory: colonial naval identity and British imperialism and
Cultural militarism in Britain before the great War

Titles & Abstracts, Semester 2

Histories of Violence
Sarah Crawford
Intra-familial violence in late medieval England
In medieval and early modern society, violence was both a hallmark of social and political order, when rightly exercised, and a corruptor of this order, when inappropriately perpetrated. Rightly exercised, the correction of wives, children, wards, servants, and apprentices guaranteed the hierarchical order of society. Wrongly implemented, household violence had the potential to undermine the social and political basis of society, which was the family. This paper will examine a number of cases of divorce on the basis of cruelty from the late medieval period to demonstrate this dual nature of violence in medieval and early modern society.

Dr Honni van Rijswijk
The after-life of law’s adjudication of harms
Australian law and politics have largely failed the Stolen Generations: only a handful of cases have been heard in the courts, only one of which has been successful. Despite the recommendations of Bringing Them Home, there is still no federal reparations scheme. In this talk, I will consider the continuing ‘after-life’ of law’s failed attempts to adjudicate the harms of the Stolen Generations, the effects of which extend beyond the legal domain to political and cultural domains. I will consider the genre in which past acts of the state are judged in the present (and how this produces and limits the forms of justice that can follow); law’s rendering of history, and its effects; and focus in particular on the difficult narratives and figures that law produces and perpetuates in its adjudication of harms.

Dr Denise Donlon
Narrabeen Man - forensic anthropology and the body under the bus stop

In 2005 the body of an Aboriginal man was found during excavations under a bus stop in the Sydney suburb of Narrabeen. Dated at approximately 4000 years old, the positioning of the remains and the damage to his skeleton suggested that he may have been ritually murdered. This presentation will discuss the techniques used to reconstruct Narrabeen Man's death, and the interpretive questions it has raised.

Professor Helen Dunstan
Of Corpsely Chaos and Necropolitical Order: Or, Who Really Ruled the Roost in 1730s China?
This talk is inspired by Jack Birns’s haunting photographs of employees of Chinese burial charities collecting child corpses in the foreign concession areas of Shanghai in the 1940s. However, it is more a contribution to the socio-political history of China’s late premodern era. The key question that it asks (a little whimsically) is this. Who really ruled the roost in eighteenth-century China: the emperor and his top men, the all-surviving Chinese gentry, or the disorderly corpses who successfully defied all the bureaucracy’s attempts to banish them from the streets and moats of some of China’s leading capitals of cultural refinement? The talk uses a skeptical reading of two directives and one proclamation by a governor-general of three lower-Yangzi provinces in the 1730s to launch an inquiry into the diverse reasons for non-burial of corpses and the means by which the emperor’s lieutenants sought to combat it. In part a study of two Chinese burial charities founded in the 1730s, the paper also scrutinizes the micro-interactions between local society and those sent from Beijing to govern it. Which ultimately proved the strongest force: law, snobbery, or Chinese beliefs about the polluting power of corpses?

Dr Nick Eckstein
'Poisonous neighbours: tracking plague through the streets of Florence'. I look forward to seeing you there
In August 1630, the Florentine health office commissioned the aristocratic religious brothers of the Archangel Michael to search every one of the city’s streets and alleys for signs of disease. The map produced by this ‘Visitation’ is a malodorous inversion of the patriotic visions we popularly associate with the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Florence emerges as a city drowning in ordure, suffocating on its own fumes and leaking like a sieve. Spatial intimacy, so often associated with productive neighbourhood sociability, appears instead as an existential threat. Meanwhile, the toxic mixture of dirt, squalor, poverty and crowding that San Michele Arcangelo’s surveyors identified everywhere around them gave rise to a troubling paradox. As devout Christian laymen, the fratelli evince genuine compassion for poor men and women, whom they frequently identify by name. At the same time, however, their record exudes the fear and hostility that caused governments to isolate the well from the sick, even to the extent of imprisoning plague-sufferers in their own homes, and leaving them there to die.

Mike McDonnell
An American tragedy: rethinking the American Revolution
The triumphalist narrative of the American Revolution as a founding moment has distorted and obscured the history of late eighteenth-century North America. Stories of the founding shape not just popular ideas of this period, but also the research agenda of historians. The stories we tell and the courses we teach are invariably wedded to explaining the creation of a nation. One important downside of this orientation is that we fail to come to grips with the violence and trauma of the War for American Independence and its legacy among the people who lived through it. This paper will explore alternate ‘war stories’ told by some of the less well-known participants. An examination of neglected Revolutionary war memoirs forces us to take the war and its effects more seriously and suggests that we might more accurately frame this period as an American tragedy.

Warwick Anderson, Sarah Walsh, Sebastian Gil Riano (REGS)
Spotlight: Race and Ethnicity in the Global South
A 'spotlight' session focused on one of the Department's research groups. We'll be welcoming ARC Laureate Fellow Professor Warwick Anderson and colleagues Dr Sarah Walsh and Dr Sebastian Gil-Riano to speak about some of the strands being explored by the Race and Ethnicity in the Global South research group.

Stefan Collini in conversation with Chris Hilliard
Professor Stefan Collini is the leading intellectual historian of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain. He is a Fellow of the British Academy. His many books include Public Moralists: Political Thought and Intellectual Life in Britain, 1850-1930 (1991) and Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain (2006). His essays appear regularly in the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian, and The Nation. In conversation with Chris Hilliard of the Sydney University history department, Professor Collini will discuss his work and reflect on the relations between the different fields covered by his unusual job title: Professor of Intellectual History and English Literature at the University of Cambridge.

Dr Thomas Adams, the Department of History and the United States Studies Centre
Robert Charles' worlds
This paper is a very early attempt at working through some of the research in a long-term book project. The project centers on New Orleans as well as Galveston (Texas) and Mobile (Alabama) from the end of Reconstruction to the beginning of World War II. There are two origin stories to this project. The first involved a series of courses I taught that engaged students in primary research centered around the so-called Robert Charles Riots, a massive white on black riot in New Orleans that occurred in the summer of 1900. As I will explain in the paper, much of the historical understanding of the social backdrop to the riots troubled me–it seemed as if there was a lot more on the ground complexity in the everyday urban history of turn-of-the-century New Orleans than scholars had previously understood. As my former students contributed research and I have continued it, I began to see that moving beyond a close history of the years surrounding the riots themselves was needed. American historiography has, surprisingly, produced very few close social and political histories of Jim Crow. Whenever one dates its institution, everyday life in the South seems remarkably static in historical accounts until World War II and too a lesser extent the Great Depression. My long-term aim here is to produce a close on the ground social and political history of urban life in the Jim Crow South, focusing on the Gulf South region from 1875 to 1941, a history that seeks to shift understandings of Jim Crow as a regime as intimately connected with political economy as it was with racism and take seriously the implications of W.E.B. Du Bois' dictum that a black person is "someone who must ride Jim Crow in Georgia," that is to say, the ascriptive category of race is the result of expressly political processes.
Dr Sarah Walsh will chair the session.

Associate Professor Ivan Crozier
Emil Kraepelin and Transcultural Psychiatry
Emil Kraepelin's significance for the history of psychiatry is hard to over-estimate. His classification of mental illnesses published in his Textbook of Insanity (1st ed 1883; last 8th ed. 1909/1910) not only systematised psychiatric conditions into two main groups (dementia praecox (schizophrenia) and manic-depression, with epilepsy also accounting for some mental disturbances), but his biological conceptions of mental illnesses, so strongly opposed to Freudian conceptions that dominated the period 1920s – 1970s, were revitalised in the 1970s to reconstruct the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (see Decker 2013). This clear move away from psychoanalysis has been considered one of the key changes in psychiatric theory in recent decades, laying the groundwork for the biological models of mental illness that dominate the field today, which are associated with the pharmacological revolution in psychiatric medicine. This position would at face-value seem to be opposed to the apparently culturally-relative interests of modern transcultural psychiatrists. Kraepelin was, however, also very interested in mental illnesses in other cultures, in particular the way that they matched (and differed from) his conceptions of mental illnesses in European patients. His psychological training under Wilhelm Wundt made him sensitive to socio-cultural factors, which in turn informed his researches outside of Germany.

This paper considers the state of the emerging field of transcultural psychiatry before Kraepelin's visit to asylums in Colombo in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Singapore and particularly Buitenzorg (Bogor) in Java (Indonesia) in 1904. It analyses the impact of Kraepelin's ideas about mental illnesses in other cultures on the nascent field of transcultural psychiatry. Although psychoanalysis dominated transcultural psychiatry in the period between the 1930s and the 1970s, the ascendency of Neo-Kraepelinian thinking in general Western psychiatry in the period after the 1970s, and in particular the recovery of his writings on transcultural psychiatry as a part of this process, is considered in relation to the return to biological psychiatry as it was espoused by the so-called Neo-Kraepelininans. Transcultural psychiatrists, in order to maintain their status in a world increasingly dominated by biological psychiatry, have made much of Kraepelin's contributions to their field, and so in this long history of transcultural psychiatry I endeavour to assess the uses of Kraepelin in relation to general changes within psychiatric theory.

Note: In order to help make the subject matter of my paper next monday less unfamiliar, here are two very short papers (<1000words) written for general audiences that you might wish to read.

Dr Daniel Spence,
University of the Free State, South Africa
"Seafaring race" theory: colonial naval identity and British imperialism
As with British militarism, imperial discourses of power proliferated from the late nineteenth century, influenced by anthropological studies of indigenous peoples, to provide a moral, ideological justification for a British colonialism built upon systems of racial hierarchy and control. Just as British militarists thought that ‘prolonged peace would engender a moral decline in the population’ and encourage self-sacrifice for a greater good, so ultra-imperialists believed that Britain would ‘irresistibly fall into national sluggishness of thought, were it not for the world-wide interests given us by the necessity of governing and educating the inhabitants of so vast an empire’. Colonial naval forces indoctrinated these discourses, as ‘Anglo-Saxonism’ and ‘Orientalism’ delineated a chain-of-command where paternalistic British officers instructed ‘native’ ratings as part of a ‘civilising mission’ to ‘develop’ the ‘character’ of a ‘modern’ navy. ‘Martial race’ theory, where certain ethnic groups were considered naturally predisposed to military service, heavily influenced colonial army organisation after the 1857 Indian Mutiny. It served to ‘divide and rule’ by promoting imperially-loyal ethnic groups over anti-colonial ones. For naval recruiters a distinctly ‘seafaring race’ theory evolved around maritime semantics but with a similar imperial purpose. Utilising transnational research that reconciles ‘official’ records with ‘subaltern’ sources from across the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia, this paper examines the intersections between indigenous and European histories, maritime communities and naval culture, the discourses of power and identities that emerged from these relationships, and their impact upon colonial societies and imperial power at the twilight of the British Empire.

Semester 1, 2014

Date Speaker Title
10 March Jacqui Newling Colonial cooking: scurvy, starvation and scones
17 March Chin Jou Urban Riots of the 1960s and Federal Sponsorship of Fast Food Franchises in America’s Inner Cities.
24 March Julia Horne, Richard Lehane, Elizabeth Miller Panel: Digital archives and scholarship
31 March Frances Clarke Child soldiers: militarism and youth in the American Civil War
7 April Peter Hobbins, Annie Clarke,
Peta Longhurst
Spotlight: The Quarantine Project
14 April Chris Parker We've seen this Before - Reactionary Conservatism before the Tea Party.
28 April Richard Rabinowitz, Anna Clark, Hannah Forsyth Panel: Public history and advocacy
5 May Micol Siegel Violence Workers in the Security World:  the View from Alaska
12 May Sarah Kovner
Allied captivity and Swiss neutrality in the Pacific, 1941-45
19 May Alan Atkinson Moral Intuition and the Origins of Sydney University
26 May Mark Ledbury, Alison Betts,
Lynne Swarts
Panel: Visual media as historical evidence
2 June Emma Christopher Documentary film screening: They Are We
Titles & Abstracts, Semester 1

First fleet foodscapes: a re-evaluation of the 'hungry years' 1788–1795
Jacqui Newling

Food was instrumental in the colonization of New South Wales, however it is rarely examined as the central focus of research. Traditionally, historians have limited the subject of food in early settlement of NSW to inadequacy of rations, poor farming efforts and failure to embrace native resources resulting in hunger rather than use it as a lens into a broader social history context. While these issues may have been factors in the early development of the colony they provide a narrow view of early settler foodways. Gastronomic analysis of primary material reveals richer more nuanced foodscapes and helps us better understand habitus across the social tiers in the earliest settlement years.

Urban Riots of the 1960s and Federal Sponsorship of Fast Food Franchises in America’s Inner Cities.
Dr. Chin Jou (Harvard University)

This paper links the arrival of fast food chain restaurants in America’s inner cities to urban riots of the mid-to-late 1960s. In the aftermath of the riots, U.S. federal policy makers devised ways to promote economic development and forestall future unrest. Fast food franchises were seen as part of urban revitalization efforts, and touted as vehicles for job growth and minority entrepreneurship. Federal support of the fast food industry ultimately took the form of loan guarantees, tax incentives, and minority entrepreneurship training programs – forms of government largesse fast food companies welcomed with alacrity. Although not the only reason behind the proliferation of urban fast food outlets, a consideration of the 1960s riots helps to illuminate how inner-city, minority communities became key constituencies of the “fast food nation.”

Panel: Digital archives and scholarship
Richard Lehane, Archivist, State Records NSW
This presentation will comprise an overview of online access to archives at the State Records Authority of NSW. Initiatives discussed will feature crowdsourcing, outsourcing, catalogues, digitisation and digital archives, including the Open Data project, and a new search engine, "Search".

Associate Professor Julia Horne, Department of History, University of Sydney
Digital humanities is the way of the future, but how to approach what to many historians is an alien concept? How should historians think digitally in disseminating their research? And why? Drawing on her sometimes fraught experience with online history Julia Horne will discuss the challenges for historians becoming digitally literate.

Elizabeth Miller, PhD candidate, Department of History, University of Sydney
Religious participation is increasingly digital. Not only are church publications often found solely online; there are groups of people who only attend church online. How can historians organise and use these sources? How can they meaningfully be compared to other archives? Elizabeth will explore the opportunities and challenges of digital archives for historians.

Child Soldiers: Militarism and Youth in the American Civil War
Dr. Frances Clarke

The ideal of childhood innocence was firmly in place by the time the American Civil War broke out in 1861. But this did not stop hundreds of thousands of boys and young men, aged between 7 and 17, from enlisting in the Union military. Unlike other child laborers, these youths were not understood by middle-class spokespeople as non-children; instead, than were held up as inspirational figures. Analyzing the cultural work performed by depictions of child soldiers and musicians, my paper suggests that these depictions helped to mediate concerns over the many threats that the war posed to the inviolability of the republic and the blamelessness of its white citizens.

Spotlight: the Quarantine Project
‘Spotlight’ is intended to showcase the collaborative projects occurring within and beyond the Department of History. Rather than presenting outcomes, the focus is on research methods and questions driving work in progress.

Dr Peter Hobbins – Research Associate, Department of History
Quarantine is often portrayed as a practice of incarceration, debasement and suffering, but is this narrative borne out by the material and archival remnants of those who passed through Sydney’s North Head Quarantine Station? As home to over 1000 messages carved into its sandstone or scrawled on its walls, do these traces represent voyages, maladies, confinements, or assertions of identity? As a collaborative history-archaeology initiative, the Quarantine Project investigates these perspectives through multiple approaches to interpreting the site and its histories.

Ms Peta Longhurst – PhD candidate, Department of Archaeology
Through its concern with public health and disease transmission, quarantine is an inherently spatial and material act. My research is concerned with the ways in which disease and contagion are materially encoded at quarantine sites. This talk will briefly outline my research project, and in doing so consider what constitutes an archaeology of quarantine.

Dr Annie Clarke – Chief Investigator, Department of Archaeology
Quarantine stations were initially built as specialist institutions, but as the need for mass quarantine declined, the facilities at North Head were used for other forms of social regulation and welfare. These included a detention centre for illegal immigrants, an evacuation centre after Cyclone Tracy and as a nursery for ‘Operation Babylift’ during the Vietnam War. This presentation compares two distinct assemblages of marks – those carved into public spaces and others pencilled into enclosures – as a prompt to think about materiality, affect and memory.

We've seen this Before - Reactionary Conservatism before the Tea Party.
Professor Christopher Parker

Chris Parker (PhD, University of Chicago, 2001) is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. The bulk of his research takes a behavioural approhttp://cms.ucc.usyd.edu.au/iw-cc/datacapture/images/btn_repliadd.gifach to historical events. More specifically, he brings survey data to bear on questions of historical import.

His first book, Fighting for Democracy: Black Veterans and the Struggle Against White Supremacy in the Postwar South (Princeton University Press, 2009), takes a fresh approach to the civil rights movement by gauging the extent to which black veterans contributed to social change. A second book, now underway and using data collected in 1968, examines the ideological and sociological origins of what has come to be known as the urban crisis of the 1960s. In short, it examines the micro-foundations of the disturbances that swept America in the late 1960s.

A Robert Wood Johnson Scholar (2005-07), Parker has published in the Journal of Politics, International Security, Political Research Quarterly, and the Du Bois Review.

In conjunction with the US Studies Centre. The session will be followed by a light lunch at 1.30pm, provided by the USSC.

Violence Workers in the Security World: the View from Alaska
Micol Siegel
Associate Professor of American Studies and History at Indiana University, Bloomington

The behemoth system of public-private security that emerged to police the TransAlaska Pipeline System in the mid-1970s reveals several critical facets of the history of U.S. policing and empire. This talk follows police and security officers through multiple pieces of greater Alaska’s public and private security systems in the course of variegated careers. Crossing over repeatedly from public to private and federal to state bodies, the police working on the pipeline helped to birth a critical complex of twenty-first century U.S. power. Perhaps even more important than any direct contribution to U.S. imperial expansion via oil was the indirect support for the framework of the security state. The hype around security for the pipeline made Alaska a perfect site for the development of the concrete and ideological buttresses of an emergent public-private hybrid “security world.”

Allied captivity and Swiss neutrality in the Pacific, 1941-45
Associate Professor Sarah Kovner
University of Florida
This paper explores the work of Swiss diplomats and Red Cross delegates to explain the experience of Allied POWs and civilian internees in the Pacific War. As the only foreigners allowed into both POW and internee camps, and the only ones to work in Japan as well as Allied countries, they were uniquely positioned to record the flow of information between the two sides, the attempts to deliver material and financial aid, and the intensifying exchange of recrimination and threats. Washington and Tokyo made claims and counter-claims about the observance or non-observance of the Geneva Conventions. Both sides threatened and carried out reprisals and made their observance of international law conditional on the conduct of the enemy. While life was far worse for Allied captives than for their Japanese counterparts, it was not because of a deliberate policy of cruelty. Instead, senior Japanese officials never developed clear policy guidance for POWs and failed to provide adequate logistical and administrative support. The few Japanese officials who oversaw the camp system lacked any authority over individual commanders. Even so, by working as intermediaries between the two sides of the Pacific War, the Swiss may well have helped prevent a bad situation from becoming even worse.

Moral Intuition and the Origins of Sydney University
Alan Atkinson
Historians tend to think of ethical motivation as fairly unproblematic. Sometimes it is simply a question as to how much cynicism a scholar wants to inject into his or her argument. But moral intuition itself has a history. This is less obvious in Australia than it is in some other countries. In the US, for instance, argument about the evolving moral context of slavery is much more finely nuanced than any Australian equivalent. In this paper I will focus on the origins of Sydney University as an example of an historiographical issue in this area, interesting especially for the way it involves contemporary Christian thought – theology, new and old, is intertwined with moral intuition.

Visual media as historical evidence

Images without Texts: reading a 'Lost Civilization' through the 'painted word'
Professor Alison Betts
In a historical context where written history was destroyed by conquest, I and my research team are exploring how the multi-faceted study of images can help in proposing reconstructions of history. Analysing a unique find of early Central Asian mural art, and drawing on a number of intellectual disciplines, we consider manufacture, content and context. It is proposed that our approach may offer a useful model for other studies.

Images as Texts: the Visual as History or a History of the Visual?
Lynne Swarts
Using the visual in history is not new, but most historians are not trained to use images and often view them as illustrations of written history rather than as agents of history. How should historians use images? Is an historians’ approach to the visual different to the way the discipline of art history or archaeology approaches images? Drawing on her research project, I discuss the challenges of using the visual in history and why using images in history matters.

What do Pictures do? Art Historians, Images, and Agency
Professor Mark Ledbury
Starting with some examples drawn from my own work on Eighteenth-Century and Revolutionary French Art, I will ask a few simple but fundamental questions that still prove tricky, even for historically-minded art historians, and image-friendly historians. Can Images make a measurable historical impact? And how can it be measured? Are they doomed to be flotsam on the economic or social tide? Or are they, on the contrary, vital conduits and agents of shifts in self-representation, or even catalysts in themselves to significant historical change?

Documentary film screening: 'They Are We'
Dr Emma Christopher

To round out the semester's programme of History on Monday, we are delighted that Dr Emma Christopher has offered to share with us 'They Are We', the film she has produced as part of her 5-year ARC fellowship in the Department.

This is the non-academic version that is currently showing at film festivals, but there are numerous DVD extras for those interested in the questions it raises. It has shown around the world, won a couple of best documentary awards. This July there will be a special screening in New York sponsored by the United Nations' Remembering Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade memorial, which will also feature photographs and art from the project in their gallery. In lieu of an abstract, please see the preview trailer:

View trailer here

In order both to see the film and have time for discussion, we are asking everyone to make it to this seminar as close to 12:00 pm as possible. As a thematic incentive to arrive early, we will be offering mini icecream cones until our stocks run out! Please try to join us and stay for a convivial end-of-semester chat afterwards