Dr Peter Hobbins
BA BSc Melbourne MMedicalHum PhD Sydney
ARC DECRA Research Fellow
A18 - Brennan MacCallum Building
The University of Sydney
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 formed the basis for my first monograph, Venomous Encounters: Snakes, Vivisection and Scientific Medicine in Colonial Australia (Manchester University Press, 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 published in 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.
- History of Australasian science, technology and medicine
- Animals and technologies as historical actors
- Military medicine and defence science
- Aviation safety
Teaching and supervision
HSTY6988 Contagion: History and Culture
The other in history
History and heritage
Imagining the past: crafting your historical voice
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
Shayne Brown - MA (Res) 'A history of orthoptics in Australia'
Current research students
|Project title||Research student|
|Materialising Contagion: An Archaeology of North Head Quarantine Station||Peta LONGHURST|
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.
Beyond the void: 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.
Editor, Health and History
Book Reviews Editor, Historical Records of Australian Science
Councillor, Royal Australian Historical Society
Convenor, Aviation Cultures Mk III: Airspaces, Mobilities, Identities, University of Sydney, Australia, 27-29 April, 2017
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
Interview with Adam Stephen, Drive, ABC Cairns, 20 February 2017.
Interview with Wendy Harmer, Mornings, ABC Sydney, 14 February 2017. http://www.abc.net.au/radio/sydney/programs/mornings/mornings/8250184
Interview with Pam Macintosh, Mornings, ABC North Coast, 10 February 2017.
Interview with Louise Saunders, Drive, ABC Hobart, 6 February 2017. https://radio.abc.net.au/programitem/peaD576NVQ?play=true
Interview with Tony Arthur, Nightlife, ABC 702, 20 December 2016. http://www.abc.net.au/radio/sydney/programs/nightlife/nightlife/8125844
Anne Barker, 'End of one era for University of Sydney museums', Australia Wide, ABC News 24, 17 December 2016.
Interview with Warren Moore, the Chris Smith Show, 2UE, 15 December 2016. http://www.2gb.com/article/untold-stories-quarantine-station
John Morcombe, ‘Tales of conflict, loss and failure forever set in stone’, Manly Daily, 26 November 2016, pp. 22–23. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/manly-daily/tales-of-conflict-loss-and-failure-forever-set-in-stone/news-story/88de2366b7e960ac59ed9c1226bca989
‘The stories of Quarantine Station’, interview with Nic Healey, Breakfast, 2SER FM, 30 November 2016. http://www.2ser.com/on-air/mobile-app/item/26237-dictionary-of-sydney-the-stories-of-quarantine-station
Interview with Robbie Buck, Breakfast, ABC 702, 1 December 2016.
Interview with Tim Webster, Talking Travel, 2UE, 1 December 2016. https://omny.fm/shows/talking-travel/secrets-from-the-sandstone-in-sydney
Interview with Annie Hastwell, The Wire, Radio Adelaide, 7 December 2016.
"Why We Wear Poppies On Remembrance Day: It's time to re-read John McCrae's beautiful poem", Huffington Post, 11/11/2016 - link here
"Sydney's secret underwater tunnels revealed", available at 7 News - here
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.
Hobbins, Peter, ‘Health, Medicine and the Sea: Australian Voyages c.1815–1860’ (book review), Journal of Australian Studies, 41, no. 1 (2017): 132–3.
Hobbins, Peter, 'The Leading Edge: Innovation, Technology and People in Australia's Royal Flying Doctor Service, by Stephen Langford' (book review), Health and History 18, no. 2 (2016): 121-3.
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): 18-24.
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.
- Black Box Re-order: aviation safety and Australian airspace, 1938�68; Hobbins P; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA).
- 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
Venomous encounters: Snakes, vivesection and scientific medicine in colonial Australia (Manchester University Press, 2017)
From quarantine to Q Station: honouring the past, securing the future (Arbon Publishing, 2016)
Stories from the Sandstone: Quarantine Inscriptions from Australia's Immigrant Past (Arbon Publishing, 2016)