Dr Peter Hobbins

BA BSc Melbourne MMedicalHum PhD Sydney
ARC DECRA Research Fellow

A18 - Brennan MacCallum Building
The University of Sydney

Telephone +61 2 9351 3035
Fax +61 2 9351 3918

Website Phonebook Entry
The Quarantine Project: The Archaeology and History of Quarantine
Twitter

Biographical details

As a historian of science, technology and medicine, I am intrigued by the ways that knowledge is generated and applied, especially through interactions with non-humans. I have explored this topic via publications on medical research, human-animal relations, quarantine, military medicine and aviation safety.

My first major research strand encompassed the emergence of professional medical research in twentieth-century Australia, and the role of snakes and snakebite in shaping ideas of 'scientific medicine' across the Australasian colonies in the nineteenth century. I was delighted when this research was awarded the University of Sydney's 2014 Rita and John Cornforth Medal for PhD Achievement. This work also forms the basis for my first monograph,Venomous Encounters: Snakes, Vivisection and Scientific Medicine in Colonial Australia, forthcoming with Manchester University Press in 2017. I am continuing to explore this theme as the 2016 Merewether Scholar at the State Library of New South Wales, through a project on nineteenth-century Sydney naturalist, James Bray.

In 2013 I joined the Department of History as a Research Associate for an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage project which integrated the archaeology and history of quarantine. Our work linking the places, practices and physical heritage of Sydney's former quarantine station resulted in a co-authored book due for release in late 2016: Stories from the Sandstone: Quarantine Inscriptions from Australia's Immigrant Past.

Expanding my horizons into the history of technology and aviation medicine, I have recently commenced a major new project on aircraft crashes in twentieth-century Australia. Supported by an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA), this project asks how Australia came to develop a world-leading aviation safety infrastructure, and its implications for the historical geography of airspace. For more information see this article in University News.

Research interests

  • History of Australasian science, technology and medicine
  • Animals and technologies as historical actors
  • Military medicine and defence science
  • Aviation safety

Teaching and supervision

Postgraduate unit

HSTY6988 Contagion: History and Culture

Postgraduate seminars

The other in history
History and heritage
Re-placing Australia

Research supervision

I am happy to act as an associate supervisor for honours, masters or doctoral projects in the history of science and medicine, Australian colonial or military history, and Australian historical archaeology.

Current research students

Project title Research student
Materialising Contagion: An Archaeology of Quarantine at North Head Quarantine Station Peta LONGHURST

Current projects

Curios and curiosity: James Bray and the sunset of amateur science in colonial Sydney. Generously supported by the 2016 Merewether Scholarship by the State Library of New South Wales, this project explores the place of snakes, venoms and vivisection in popularising natural history in late-Victorian Sydney.

Black box re-order: technology, air safety and Australian airspace, 1938–68. Commencing in mid-2016, my DECRA project focuses on Australian systems of aviation safety in civil and military settings over three critical decades. Ending with the final major airliner crash in Australia, this work investigates both human-technology interactions and the ways in which safety systems created a novel twentieth-century environment: airspace.

Associations

Editor, Health and History

Book Reviews Editor, Historical Records of Australian Science

Vice President, NSW Branch, Australian and New Zealand Society of the History of Medicine

Convenor, Aviation Cultures Mk II: Technology, Culture, Heritage, University of Sydney, Australia, 10–11 December 2015

Awards and honours

2016 Merewether Scholarship, State Library of New South Wales for the projectCurios and curiosity: James Bray and the sunset of amateur science in colonial Sydney. I will use this scholarship to explore the place of snakes, venoms and vivisection in popularising natural history in late-Victorian Sydney.

2016 Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) for the project Black box re-order: technology, air safety and Australian airspace, 1938–68. This three-year project involves collaboration with the Airways Museum in Melbourne and substantial archival research into Australian civil aviation and the Royal Australian Air Force.

In the media

Dr Peter Hobbins Going Viral Interview with femail.com.au - link here.

Medicine of Yesterday: How We Used To Treat The Cold And Flu, interview with The Huffington Post - available here.

ABC Radio Brisbane, ‘Ever wondered how the first settlers to Australia and New Zealand worked out what animals were likely to kill them?’. Available on Soundcloud here.

ABC 730, 5 June 2013, ‘Stories set in stone reveal gems from the past’. Available on the ABC website here.

Mitchell Bingemann, 'Explaining our sky-high reputation for safety', The Australian, 5 February 2016, p. 29.

Book Reviews

Hobbins, Peter, 'Venom Doc: the Edgiest, Darkest and Strangest Natural History Memoir Ever' (book review), Historical Records of Australian Science, 27, no. 1 (May 2016): 98-99.

Hobbins, Peter, ‘Bacteriology in British India’ (book review), Health & History 16, no. 1 (2014): 122–4.

Hobbins, Peter, ‘A Medical Emergency: Major-General ‘Ginger’ Burston and the Army Medical Service in World War II’ (book review), Historical Records of Australian Science 24, no. 1 (2014): 113–14.

Hobbins, Peter, ‘Life’s Logic: 150 Years of Physiology at the University of Melbourne’ (book review), Historical Records of Australian Science 24, no. 1 (May 2013): 160–1.

Hobbins, Peter, ‘Enigma, gift, commodity, curse – Review of The Bleeding Disease: Hemophilia and the Unintended Consequences of Medical Progress’ (book review), Metascience 22, no. 2 (2013), 399–403.

Hobbins, Peter, ‘Discovery of Australia’s Fishes: a History of Australian Ichthyology to 1930’ (book review), Historical Records of Australian Science 23 , no. 2 (November 2012): 229–31.

Hobbins, Peter, ‘Camouflage Australia’ (book review), Historical Records of Australian Science 23, no. 1 (May 2012): 78–80.

Hobbins, Peter, ‘Cane Toads: an Unnatural History and Cane Toads: the Conquest’ (film review), Historical Records of Australian Science 23, no. 1 (May 2012): 86–7.

Hobbins, Peter, ‘War Wounds: Medicine and the Trauma of Conflict and More Than Bombs and Bandages: Australian Army Nurses at Work in World War I’(book review), Historical Records of Australian Science 22, no. 2 (November 2011): 304–5.

Hobbins, Peter, ‘Snake-Bitten: Eric Worrell and the Australian Reptile Park’ (book review), Historical Records of Australian Science 22, no. 1 (June 2011): 182–4.

Hobbins, Peter, ‘Shattered Anzacs: Living With the Scars of War’ (book review), Health and History 11, no. 2 (2009): 149–51.

Hobbins, Peter, ‘War and Medicine’ (book review), Health and History 11, no. 1 (2009): 183–4.

Selected grants

2016

  • Black Box Re-order: aviation safety and Australian airspace, 1938–68; Hobbins P; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA).

2015

  • Power and Accountability Network; Enfield N, Bednarek M, Dar-Nimrod I, Goggin G, High H, Hobbins P, Lambourne W, Mahboob A, Martin J, Piper N, West C; Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences/Faculty Incentive Funding.

Selected publications & creative works

Download citations: PDF RTF Endnote

Books

  • Hobbins, P., Clarke, A., Frederick, U., Viera, D., Cornwall, J., McArthur, S. (2016). From quarantine to Q Station: honouring the past, securing the future. Crows Nest: Arbon Publishing.

Book Chapters

  • Clarke, A., Frederick, U., Hobbins, P. (2016). Landscapes of Quarantine: Sydney’s North Head Quarantine Station. In A Bashford (Eds.), Quarantine: Local and Global Histories. UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Hobbins, P. (2015). 'No Bloody Research': Bringing Science to Military Medicine. In Jacqueline Healy (Eds.), Compassion and Courage: Australian Doctors and Dentists in the Great War, (pp. 94-100). Melbourne: Medical History Museum, University of Melbourne.
  • Hobbins, P. (2014). Imperial Science or the Republic of Poison Letters? Venomous Animals, Transnational Exchange and Colonial Identities. In Robert Aldrich, Kirsten McKenzie (Eds.), The Routledge History of Western Empires, (pp. 285-298). London: Routledge.
  • Hobbins, P. (2014). Invasion ontologies: Venom, visibility and the imagined histories of arthropods. In Jodi Frawley and Iain McCalman (Eds.), Rethinking Invasion Ecologies from the Environmental Humanities, (pp. 181-195). Oxon: Routledge.
  • Bashford, A., Hobbins, P. (2013). Science and medicine. In Alison Bashford, Stuart Macintyre (Eds.), The Cambridge History of Australia: Volume 2: The Commonwealth of Australia, (pp. 263-283). New York, USA: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hobbins, P. (2009). Hair is your symptom. In Suzanne Boccalatte and Meredith Jones (Eds.), Trunk Vol. One: Hair, (pp. 3-5). Sydney, Australia: Boccalatte Pty Ltd.

Journals

  • Hobbins, P. (2016). From Camels to Cats: Experimenting with Medicine in the Australian Flying Corps. War and Society, 35(2), 114-131. [More Information]
  • Bashford, A., Hobbins, P., Clarke, A., Frederick, U. (2016). Geographies of commemoration: Angel Island, San Francisco and North Head, Sydney. Journal of Historical Geography, 52, 16-25. [More Information]
  • Hobbins, P. (2015). A Spur to Atavism: Placing Platypus Poison. Journal of the History of Biology, 48(4), 499-537. [More Information]
  • Bashford, A., Hobbins, P. (2015). Rewriting Quarantine: Pacific History at Australia's Edge. Australian Historical Studies, 46(3), 392-409. [More Information]
  • Hobbins, P., Forsyth, H. (2013). Mobilising medical knowledge for the nation, 1943-49. Health and History, 15(1), 59-79. [More Information]
  • Hobbins, P. (2011). ‘Immunisation is as Popular as a Death Adder’: The Bundaberg Tragedy and the Politics of Medical Science in Interwar Australia. Social History of Medicine, 24(2), 426-444. [More Information]
  • Hobbins, P. (2010). "Outside the Institute there is a Desert": The Tenuous Trajectories of Medical Research in Interwar Australia. Medical History, 54(1), 1-28.
  • Hobbins, P., Hillier, K. (2010). Isolated cases? The history and historiography of Australian Medical Research. Health and History, 12(2), 1-17.
  • Hobbins, P. (2010). Serpentine Science: Charles Kellaway and the Fluctuating Fortunes of Venom Research in Interwar Australia. Historical Records of Australian Science, 21(1), 1-34. [More Information]
  • Hobbins, P. (2007). 'Living in hell but still smiling': Australian Psychiatric Casualties of War during the Malaya-Singapore Campaign, 1941-42. Health and History, 9(1), 28-55.
  • Hobbins, P., Winkel, K. (2007). The forgotten successes and sacrifices of Charles Kellaway, director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, 1923–1944. Medical Journal of Australia, 187(11/12), 645-648.
  • Hobbins, P. (2005). Compromised Ethical Principles in Randomised Clinical Trials of Distant, Intercessory Prayer. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 2(3), 142-152.

Edited Journals

  • Hobbins, P., Hillier, K. (2010). Isolated Cases? The History and Historiography of Australian Medical Research. Health and History, 12(2).

Textual Creative Works

  • Hobbins, P. (2013). Spectacular Serpents: Snakebite in Colonial Australia. Venom: Fear, Fascination and Discovery, (pp. 37 - 44). Melbourne, Australia: Medical History Museum, University of Melbourne.

Magazine / Newspaper Articles

  • Hobbins, P. (2016). Stories from the sandstone: messages from ships, sailors and travellers caught in quarantine. Signals Quarterly.
  • Hobbins, P. (2015). The pigeonhole waltz: deflating innovation in wartime Australia. Record.
  • Hobbins, P. (2014). Snake Germs and Professor Halford's Webs. Chiron 2013.
  • Hobbins, P. (2012). Why don't we cuddle funnel-webs? The Conversation.
  • Hobbins, P. (2011). Snake Germs and Professor Halford’s Webs. University of Melbourne Archives Bulletin.

Other

  • Hobbins, P., Cave, E., Cave, L. (2016), 'Mysterious leaves from the past: Bray’s Museum of Curios', State Library of New South Wales. [More Information]
  • Hobbins, P. (2016), 'Snakebites and antidotes from our past'. Genevieve Jacobs, ABC Canberra Radio, 23 August.
  • Hobbins, P. (2016), A Serpentine Arms Race: S. Weir Mitchell, George Halford, and the Most Venomous of Snakes. Fugitive Leaves: a Blog from the Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. [More Information]

2016

  • Hobbins, P., Cave, E., Cave, L. (2016), 'Mysterious leaves from the past: Bray’s Museum of Curios', State Library of New South Wales. [More Information]
  • Hobbins, P. (2016), 'Snakebites and antidotes from our past'. Genevieve Jacobs, ABC Canberra Radio, 23 August.
  • Hobbins, P. (2016), A Serpentine Arms Race: S. Weir Mitchell, George Halford, and the Most Venomous of Snakes. Fugitive Leaves: a Blog from the Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. [More Information]
  • Hobbins, P. (2016). From Camels to Cats: Experimenting with Medicine in the Australian Flying Corps. War and Society, 35(2), 114-131. [More Information]
  • Hobbins, P., Clarke, A., Frederick, U., Viera, D., Cornwall, J., McArthur, S. (2016). From quarantine to Q Station: honouring the past, securing the future. Crows Nest: Arbon Publishing.
  • Bashford, A., Hobbins, P., Clarke, A., Frederick, U. (2016). Geographies of commemoration: Angel Island, San Francisco and North Head, Sydney. Journal of Historical Geography, 52, 16-25. [More Information]
  • Clarke, A., Frederick, U., Hobbins, P. (2016). Landscapes of Quarantine: Sydney’s North Head Quarantine Station. In A Bashford (Eds.), Quarantine: Local and Global Histories. UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Hobbins, P. (2016). Stories from the sandstone: messages from ships, sailors and travellers caught in quarantine. Signals Quarterly.

2015

  • Hobbins, P. (2015). 'No Bloody Research': Bringing Science to Military Medicine. In Jacqueline Healy (Eds.), Compassion and Courage: Australian Doctors and Dentists in the Great War, (pp. 94-100). Melbourne: Medical History Museum, University of Melbourne.
  • Hobbins, P. (2015). A Spur to Atavism: Placing Platypus Poison. Journal of the History of Biology, 48(4), 499-537. [More Information]
  • Bashford, A., Hobbins, P. (2015). Rewriting Quarantine: Pacific History at Australia's Edge. Australian Historical Studies, 46(3), 392-409. [More Information]
  • Hobbins, P. (2015). The pigeonhole waltz: deflating innovation in wartime Australia. Record.

2014

  • Hobbins, P. (2014). Imperial Science or the Republic of Poison Letters? Venomous Animals, Transnational Exchange and Colonial Identities. In Robert Aldrich, Kirsten McKenzie (Eds.), The Routledge History of Western Empires, (pp. 285-298). London: Routledge.
  • Hobbins, P. (2014). Invasion ontologies: Venom, visibility and the imagined histories of arthropods. In Jodi Frawley and Iain McCalman (Eds.), Rethinking Invasion Ecologies from the Environmental Humanities, (pp. 181-195). Oxon: Routledge.
  • Hobbins, P. (2014). Snake Germs and Professor Halford's Webs. Chiron 2013.

2013

  • Hobbins, P., Forsyth, H. (2013). Mobilising medical knowledge for the nation, 1943-49. Health and History, 15(1), 59-79. [More Information]
  • Bashford, A., Hobbins, P. (2013). Science and medicine. In Alison Bashford, Stuart Macintyre (Eds.), The Cambridge History of Australia: Volume 2: The Commonwealth of Australia, (pp. 263-283). New York, USA: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hobbins, P. (2013). Spectacular Serpents: Snakebite in Colonial Australia. Venom: Fear, Fascination and Discovery, (pp. 37 - 44). Melbourne, Australia: Medical History Museum, University of Melbourne.

2012

  • Hobbins, P. (2012). Why don't we cuddle funnel-webs? The Conversation.

2011

  • Hobbins, P. (2011). Snake Germs and Professor Halford’s Webs. University of Melbourne Archives Bulletin.
  • Hobbins, P. (2011). ‘Immunisation is as Popular as a Death Adder’: The Bundaberg Tragedy and the Politics of Medical Science in Interwar Australia. Social History of Medicine, 24(2), 426-444. [More Information]

2010

  • Hobbins, P. (2010). "Outside the Institute there is a Desert": The Tenuous Trajectories of Medical Research in Interwar Australia. Medical History, 54(1), 1-28.
  • Hobbins, P., Hillier, K. (2010). Isolated Cases? The History and Historiography of Australian Medical Research. Health and History, 12(2).
  • Hobbins, P., Hillier, K. (2010). Isolated cases? The history and historiography of Australian Medical Research. Health and History, 12(2), 1-17.
  • Hobbins, P. (2010). Serpentine Science: Charles Kellaway and the Fluctuating Fortunes of Venom Research in Interwar Australia. Historical Records of Australian Science, 21(1), 1-34. [More Information]

2009

  • Hobbins, P. (2009). Hair is your symptom. In Suzanne Boccalatte and Meredith Jones (Eds.), Trunk Vol. One: Hair, (pp. 3-5). Sydney, Australia: Boccalatte Pty Ltd.

2007

  • Hobbins, P. (2007). 'Living in hell but still smiling': Australian Psychiatric Casualties of War during the Malaya-Singapore Campaign, 1941-42. Health and History, 9(1), 28-55.
  • Hobbins, P., Winkel, K. (2007). The forgotten successes and sacrifices of Charles Kellaway, director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, 1923–1944. Medical Journal of Australia, 187(11/12), 645-648.

2005

  • Hobbins, P. (2005). Compromised Ethical Principles in Randomised Clinical Trials of Distant, Intercessory Prayer. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 2(3), 142-152.

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