Australian Historical Association Conference 2015


Foundational Histories
6–10 July 2015
University of Sydney

Program and abstracts now available

NB: Includes for program and abstracts for:
- Australian Historical Association
- Religious History Association and
- Women's History Network

History abounds with metaphors of foundation: the foundations of knowledge or the discipline, as well as the foundational narratives of nations. These metaphorical foundations do not stand on solid rock, but can be unsettled, shifted and shaken. The AHA Conference will do some gentle shaking in 2015, a year when many Australians will celebrate the centenary of the ‘birth of a nation’ at Anzac Cove.

Conference themes may include, but are not limited to:

  • Traditions, myths and foundation stories
  • War and other catastrophes
  • Indigenous foundations
  • 100 years of Gallipoli: what are we celebrating?
  • Colonisation: foundation and disaster
  • The natural foundations of human history
  • Mind, body and senses: foundations of the self?
  • Intimate histories: family and migration
  • Heritage, urban foundations and sites of memory
  • Foundations of rights and belonging
  • Does transnational history have a foundation narrative?
  • Disciplinary foundations: does history have a core?
  • Digital archives: shifting the foundations of historical knowledge?
  • Teaching history: is there a foundational curriculum?
  • Digging deep: beyond human history

Call for papers

Please note: Speakers at the AHA Conference will need to be members of the AHA. Speakers at affiliated conference streams need to be a financial member of the affiliate organisation.


Ann Curthoys - Public Lecture

Race, Liberty, Empire: The foundations of Australian political culture
Professor Ann Curthoys

Australian governments have found it extremely difficult to move beyond colonialist understandings of their relationship to Indigenous people. Although there have been major changes in government and public attitudes in response to Indigenous claims and cultural achievements and also to changing international pressures, modern Australian political culture is still haunted by the imperial context that created it. The past lives on in our present, leading the work of historians to become a matter of public interest and political contestation.

With these issues in mind, this lecture then explores the ways in which the foundations of Australian political institutions and political culture in the mid nineteenth century were shaped by the fraught relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples prevailing at the time. It emphasises how much the six colonies differed from one another in these relationships, and shows that the shift from imperial to local control of Indigenous policy was no simple matter.