New releases

At Home in Exile »

A Memoir

Authored by: Helga M Griffin
Publication date: February 2021
This is a story of a girl’s construction of her identity, and of her family’s search for a place in the world, for the Heimat that is so resonant for those of German background. We follow Helga through an adventurous childhood in Iran, whose vast open spaces her mother called ‘my spiritual home’. Her engineer father worked on a grand scale, designing and laying roads and railways, and tunnelling through mountain ranges. Then came the invasions of World War II, and the family, half-German, half-Austrian, found themselves on a long voyage to Australia, designated enemy aliens. They were interned for nearly five years in the dusty Victorian countryside. On their release at the end of the War, stranded in Melbourne, they sought another home. The children were dispatched to convents, and at the Academy of Mary Immaculate, Helga found a temporary homeland, in faith. Everyday life in the Australia of the late 1940s and early 1950s is freshly seen by this feisty, loving migrant family. Through their eyes, we encounter a strange place, Australia, as if for the first time. Helga’s development from a thoughtful, sensitive child to a self-possessed young woman, wrestling with her faith and with how to live a decent life, is vividly recounted.

Made in China Journal: Volume 5, Issue 3, 2020 »

Publication date: February 2021
China’s increased global engagements in recent years have been the source of unending controversies. While public attention generally focuses on geopolitical, economic or even environmental issues, labour also plays an important part in emerging narratives surrounding the ‘spectre of global China’. The media in countries that have received a significant influx of investment from mainland China has often complained about ‘invasions’ of Chinese workers, who are allegedly snatching away job opportunities from local workers. In many places, there are pervasive rumours that Chinese workers are nothing less than convicted felons sent abroad by the Party-State to expiate their crimes, which would explain why they seem to work without interruption day and night, at a pace that some believe no free person would deem acceptable. This has also led to concerns that workers from China are playing an important role in driving down labour standards in countries where institutions are weak and legal enforcement lacking. Inflows of Chinese workers have also been associated with surges in crime and prostitution that supposedly have wrought havoc on local communities. In the best of circumstances, these narratives flatten the figure of the Chinese worker abroad into that of an agent unwittingly promoting the agenda of the Chinese Party-State abroad; in the worst, they frame these overseas Chinese labourers as criminals. In so doing, the complex dilemmas that these workers face, their inner conflicts and the rights violations that they themselves are subjected to go unnoticed. This issue challenges these prejudices and provides some glimpses into the subjectivities and the plight of Chinese workers toiling abroad today.

Australian Travellers in the South Seas »

Authored by: Nicholas Halter
Publication date: February 2021
This book offers a wide-ranging survey of Australian engagement with the Pacific Islands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Through over 100 hitherto largely unexplored accounts of travel, the author explores how representations of the Pacific Islands in letters, diaries, reminiscences, books, newspapers and magazines contributed to popular ideas of the Pacific Islands in Australia. It offers a range of valuable insights into continuities and changes in Australian regional perspectives, showing that ordinary Australians were more closely connected to the Pacific Islands than has previously been acknowledged. Addressing the theme of travel as a historical, literary and imaginative process, this cultural history probes issues of nation and empire, race and science, commerce and tourism by focusing on significant episodes and encounters in history. This is a foundational text for future studies of Australia’s relations with the Pacific, and histories of travel generally.

Refugee Journeys »

Histories of Resettlement, Representation and Resistance

Publication date: February 2021
Refugee Journeys presents stories of how governments, the public and the media have responded to the arrival of people seeking asylum, and how these responses have impacted refugees and their lives. Mostly covering the period from 1970 to the present, the chapters provide readers with an understanding of the political, social and historical contexts that have brought us to the current day. This engaging collection of essays also considers possible ways to break existing policy deadlocks, encouraging readers to imagine a future where we carry vastly different ideas about refugees, government policies and national identities.

Britain’s Second Embassy to China »

Lord Amherst's 'Special Mission' to the Jiaqing Emperor in 1816

Authored by: Caroline Stevenson
Publication date: February 2021
Lord Amherst’s diplomatic mission to the Qing Court in 1816 was the second British embassy to China. The first led by Lord Macartney in 1793 had failed to achieve its goals. It was thought that Amherst had better prospects of success, but the intense diplomatic encounter that greeted his arrival ended badly. Amherst never appeared before the Jiaqing emperor and his embassy was expelled from Peking on the day it arrived. Historians have blamed Amherst for this outcome, citing his over-reliance on the advice of his Second Commissioner, Sir George Thomas Staunton, not to kowtow before the emperor. Detailed analysis of British sources reveal that Amherst was well informed on the kowtow issue and made his own decision for which he took full responsibility. Success was always unlikely because of irreconcilable differences in approach. China’s conduct of foreign relations based on the tributary system required submission to the emperor, thus relegating all foreign emissaries and the rulers they represented to vassal status, whereas British diplomatic practice was centred on negotiation and Westphalian principles of equality between nations. The Amherst embassy’s failure revised British assessments of China and led some observers to believe that force, rather than diplomacy, might be required in future to achieve British goals. The Opium War of 1840 that followed set a precedent for foreign interference in China, resulting in a century of ‘humiliation’. This resonates today in President Xi Jinping’s call for ‘National Rejuvenation’ to restore China’s historic place at the centre of a new Sino-centric global order.

Unequal Lives »

Gender, Race and Class in the Western Pacific

Publication date: January 2021
As we move further into the twenty-first century, we are witnessing both the global extensification and local intensification of inequality. Unequal Lives deals with the particular dilemmas of inequality in the Western Pacific. The authors focus on four dimensions of inequality: the familiar triad of gender, race and class, and the often-neglected dimension of generation. Grounded in meticulous long-term ethnographic enquiry and deep awareness of the historical contingency of these configurations of inequality, this volume illustrates the multidimensional, multiscale and epistemic nature of contemporary inequality. This collection is a major contribution to academic and political debates about the perverse effects of inequality, which now ranks among the greatest challenges of our time. The inspiration for this volume derives from the breadth and depth of Martha Macintyre’s remarkable scholarship. The contributors celebrate Macintyre’s groundbreaking work, which exemplifies the explanatory power, ethical force and pragmatism that ensures the relevance of anthropological research to the lives of others and to understanding the global condition. ‘Unequal Lives is an impressive collection by Melanesianist anthropologists with reputations for theoretical sophistication, ethnographic imagination and persuasive writing. It brilliantly illuminates all aspects of the multifaceted scholarship of Martha Macintyre, whose life and teaching are also highlighted in the commentaries, tributes and interview included in the volume.’ — Robert J. Foster, Professor of Anthropology and Visual and Cultural Studies, Richard L. Turner Professor of Humanities, University of Rochester ‘Inspired by Martha Macintyre’s work, the contributors to Unequal Lives show that to theorise inequality is a measured project, one that requires rescaling its exercise over several decades in order to recognise the reality of inequality as it is known in social relations and to document it critically, unravelling their own readiness to misjudge what they see from the lives that are lived by the people with whom they have lived and studied. This fine volume shows how the ordinariness of everyday work and care can be a chimera wherein the apparent reality of inequality might mislead less critical reports to obscure its very account. From reading it, we learn that such unrelenting questioning of what makes lives unequal becomes the very analytic for better understanding lives as they are lived.’ — Karen M. Sykes, Professor of Anthropology, University of Manchester

Agenda - A Journal of Policy Analysis and Reform: Volume 27, Number 1, 2020 »

Edited by: William Coleman
Publication date: December 2020
Agenda is a refereed, ECONLIT-indexed and RePEc-listed journal of the College of Business and Economics, The Australian National University. Launched in 1994, Agenda provides a forum for debate on public policy, mainly (but not exclusively) in Australia and New Zealand. It deals largely with economic issues but gives space to social and legal policy and also to the moral and philosophical foundations and implications of policy. Subscribe to the Agenda Alerting service if you wish to be advised on forthcoming or new issues.

Aboriginal History Journal: Volume 43 »

Edited by: Ingereth Macfarlane
Publication date: December 2020
Volume 43 opens with an unexpectedly timely essay. Tom Gara’s study of the influenza epidemic that reached Australia in 1919 expands consideration of its global effects to include the poorly documented impacts on Aboriginal people in South Australia. The study was written and finalised to mark the centenary, prior to the advent of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic. In this dramatically altered context, Gara’s evidence becomes significantly comparative as well as an account of an under-researched aspect of past infectious disease spread. Annemarie McLaren’s article poses questions about the differing assumptions Aboriginal men and colonists made about their earliest travels together in country around Sydney Cove in 1791. McLaren interrogates Watkin Tench’s and John Hunter’s accounts of their joint travels with Colebee and Balloderry to explore how ‘guiding’ relationships first developed between Aboriginal people and expeditionary parties in New South Wales. Grace Karskens’ conversation with Mark McKenna about her engagement with the story of Nah Doong, a nineteenth-century Aboriginal woman living in colonial Penrith, NSW, offers ‘a masterclass in how to write history’. Careful reading against the grain brings Nah Doong’s experience alive in a rare, fleshed-out biographical picture of an individual woman. ‘Big John Dodo’ (c. 1910–2003) is respected as a ceremonial and cultural leader for Karajarri country, south of Broome, WA. Darren Jorgensen draws on family and personal interviews to re-position John Dodo Nangkiriny’s ‘transitional’ art forms, which do not emulate pre-colonial or contemporary forms and are produced with new materials. Beth Marsden provides a close reading of the campaign to resist construction of a ‘transit village’ in Morwell, Victoria, in the 1960s, illuminating various strands of assimilationist policy as well as multilayered political and grassroots resistance. Tim Rowse and Barry Leithhead re-examine the underlying assumptions held by Dr Cecil Cook in his career as a Northern Territory administrator and commentator (1925–69). Demonstrating the relationship between racial thought and liberalism in Cook’s policies and advocacy, they argue that Cook’s common function as a shorthand for ‘ideologies, policies and practices of government that seem at best misguided and at worst cruel and racist’ needs re-evaluation. In addition to a wide range of book reviews, this volume also has a review of the important Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters exhibition.

Meaning, Life and Culture »

In conversation with Anna Wierzbicka

Publication date: December 2020
This book is dedicated to Anna Wierzbicka, one of the most influential and innovative linguists of her generation. Her work spans a number of disciplines, including anthropology, cultural psychology, cognitive science, philosophy and religious studies, as well as her home base of linguistics. She is best known for the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) approach to meaning—a versatile tool for exploring ‘big questions’ concerning the diversity and universals of people’s experience in the world. In this volume, Anna Wierzbicka’s former students, old and current colleagues, ‘kindred spirits’ and ‘sparring partners’ engage with her ideas and diverse body of work. These authors cover topics from the grammar of action verbs to cross-cultural pragmatics, and over 30 languages from around the world are represented. The chapters in Part 1 focus on the NSM approach and cover four themes: lexico-grammatical semantics, cultural keywords, semantics of nouns, and emotion. In Part 2, the contributors connect with a meaning-based approach from their own intellectual perspectives, including syntax, anthropology, cognitive linguistics and sociolinguistics. The deep humanistic perspective, wide-ranging themes and interdisciplinary nature of Wierzbicka’s research are reflected in the contributions. The common thread running through all chapters is the primacy of meaning to the understanding of language and culture.

Niche Wars »

Australia in Afghanistan and Iraq, 2001–2014

Publication date: 2020
Australia invoked the ANZUS Alliance following the Al Qaeda attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001. But unlike the calls to arms at the onset of the world wars, Australia decided to make only carefully calibrated force contributions in support of the US-led coalition campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why is this so? Niche Wars examines Australia’s experience on military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2001 to 2014. These operations saw over 40 Australian soldiers killed and hundreds wounded. But the toll since has been greater. For Afghanistan and Iraq the costs are hard to measure. Why were these forces deployed? What role did Australia play in shaping the strategy and determining the outcome? How effective were they? Why is so little known about Australia’s involvement in these campaigns? What lessons can be learned from this experience? Niche Wars commences with a scene-setting overview of Australia’s military involvement in the Middle East over more than a century. It then draws on unique insights from many angles, across a spectrum of men and women, ranging from key Australian decision makers, practitioners and observers. The book includes a wide range of perspectives in chapters written by federal government ministers, departmental secretaries, service commanders, task force commanders, sailors, soldiers, airmen and women, international aid workers, diplomats, police, journalists, coalition observers and academics. Niche Wars makes for compelling reading but also stands as a reference work on how and why Australia became entangled in these conflicts that had devastating consequences. If lessons can be learned from history about how Australia uses its military forces, this book is where to find them.

East Asia Forum Quarterly: Volume 12, Number 4, 2020 »

Publication date: December 2020
COVID-19 has spotlighted, like no other event, the importance of the ascendance of China in global affairs. This issue of East Asia Forum Quarterly examines how China is changing and why that is important. Contributors offer perspectives on China's economic transformation and the evolution of the political, military, technological, environmental and strategic dimensions of China under President Xi Jinping. The Asian Review discusses the future of Kashmir, human rights in Southeast Asia and global governance reform.
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Interpreting Myanmar »

A Decade of Analysis

Authored by: Andrew Selth
Publication date: December 2020
Since the abortive 1988 pro-democracy uprising, Myanmar (formerly Burma) has attracted increased attention from a wide range of observers. Yet, despite all the statements, publications and documentary films made about the country over the past 32 years, it is still little known and poorly understood. It remains the subject of many myths, mysteries and misconceptions. Between 2008 and 2019, Andrew Selth clarified and explained contemporary developments in Myanmar on the Lowy Institute’s internationally acclaimed blog, The Interpreter. This collection of his 97 articles provides a fascinating and informative record of that critical period, and helps to explain many issues that remain relevant today.

On Taungurung Land »

Sharing History and Culture

Publication date: December 2020
On Taungurung Land: Sharing History and Culture is the first monograph to examine how the Taungurung Nation of central Victoria negotiated with protectors and pastoralists to retain possession of their own country for as long as possible. Historic accounts, to date, have treated the histories of Acheron and Mohican Aboriginal stations as preliminary to the establishment of the more famous Coranderrk on Wurundjeri land. Instead of ‘rushing down the hill’ to Coranderrk, this book concentrates upon the two foundational Aboriginal stations on Taungurung Country. A collaboration between Elder Uncle Roy Patterson and Jennifer Jones, the book draws upon Taungurung oral knowledge and an unusually rich historical record. This fine-grained local history and cultural memoir shows that adaptation to white settlement and the preservation of culture were not mutually exclusive. Uncle Roy shares generational knowledge in this book in order to revitalise relationships to place and establish respect and mutual practices of care for Country.

Australian Journal of Biography and History: No. 4, 2020 »

Publication date: December 2020
This issue of the Australian Journal of Biography and History includes eight peer-reviewed articles, and 12 book reviews. Each of the articles uses biography to illustrate historical themes and to add texture to historical episodes. Patricia Clarke examines the role of four women journalists who were recruited by the Australian Government to tour operational bases in eastern Australia during a critical phase in the Pacific War. In the field of journalism, women faced systemic barriers to employment; the women described in Clarke’s article went to great efforts to attain equality in the workplace, yet they were often restricted to weekly publications while the dailies remained the province of men. Lyndon and Lyne Megarrity, in their article on the two wives of the Queensland businessman and later premier Robert Philp (1899–1903, 1907–08), use the biographies of Jessie (née Bannister; 1856–90), and Mina (née Munro; 1867–1940) to illustrate the changes in the role of elite Queensland women over the relatively short period of a decade. The next two articles consider the problems of constructing biographies of those who are essentially invisible in the historical record. Melanie Nolan, Christine Fernon and Rebecca Kippen discuss the ’first-fleeter’ Sarah Bellamy’s seemingly ‘insignificant life’ to illustrate various aspects of the British colonisation of the continent. The biography of the Boonwurrung man Kurrburra (1797–1849) forms the subject of the contribution by Ian Clark, Rolf Schlagloth, Fred Cahir and Gabrielle McGinnis. By setting out to consider the whole of Kurrburra’s life rather than only the moments of contact (or conflict) with colonial society, he can be re-presented as one who was respected and important in his Aboriginal community, and who managed, negotiated and sought to control his interactions with the colonising forces. Sophie Scott-Brown, in her article on the British Marxist historian Raphael Samuel, considers the utility of biography in relation to intellectual history, and the relationship between what she terms ‘cultural persona’ and the empirical personality. By contrast, Michael Davis’s biographical portrait of the anthropologist Leonhard Adam reveals a figure who some viewed as an outsider, but whose works on Aboriginal art were highly successful. In his study of the Australian delegation to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, David Lee looks at the men who between them forcefully asserted Australia’s position, and thus contributed to the country’s consolidation as an independent nation-state during the inter-war period. In the final article, Stephen Wilks argues that biography is founded on human agency, and that political history is ‘rich in interpersonal interaction’. He concludes that biography provides scholars with ‘a platform for exploring the tortuous chains of decision, chance and error that characterise the political past and the legacies it imparts’.

International Review of Environmental History: Volume 6, Issue 2, 2020 »

Edited by: James Beattie
Publication date: November 2020
International Review of Environmental History takes an interdisciplinary and global approach to environmental history.  It encourages scholars to think big and to tackle the challenges of writing environmental histories across different methodologies, nations, and time-scales. The journal embraces interdisciplinary, comparative and transnational methods, while still recognising the importance of locality in understanding these global processes. The journal's goal is to be read across disciplines, not just within history. It publishes on all thematic and geographic topics of environmental history, but especially encourage articles with perspectives focused on or developed from the southern hemisphere and the ‘global south’.

Towards Human Rights Compliance in Australian Prisons »

Authored by: Anita Mackay
Publication date: November 2020
Imprisoned people have always been vulnerable and in need of human rights protections. The slow but steady growth in the protection of imprisoned people’s rights over recent decades in Australia has mostly come from incremental change to prison legislation and common law principles. A radical influence is about to disrupt this slow change. Australian prisons and other closed environments will soon be subject to international inspections by the United Nations Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT). This is because the Australian Government ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) in December 2017. Australia’s international human rights law obligations as they apply to prisons are complex and stem from multiple Treaties. This book distils these obligations into five prerequisites for compliance, consistent with the preventive focus of the OPCAT. They are: reduce reliance on imprisonment align domestic legislation with Australia’s international human rights law obligations shift the focus of imprisonment to the goal of rehabilitation and restoration support prison staff to treat imprisoned people in a human rights–consistent manner ensure decent physical conditions in all prisons. Attention to each of these five areas will help all levels of Australian government and prison managers take the steps required to move towards compliance. Human-rights led prison reform is necessary both to improve the lives of imprisoned people and for Australia to achieve compliance with the international human rights legal obligations to which it has voluntarily committed itself.

A Bridge Between »

Spanish Benedictine Missionary Women in Australia

Authored by: Katharine Massam
Publication date: October 2020
This sensitive account of Spanish Benedictine women at an Aboriginal mission in Western Australia is poignant and disturbing. Notable for its ecumenical spirit, depth of research and deep engagement with the subject, A Bridge Between is a model of how religious history, in its broader bearings, can be written. — Graeme Davison, Monash University With great insight and care, A Bridge Between presents a sympathetic but not uncritical history of the lives of individuals who have often been invisible. The story of the nuns at New Norcia is a timely contribution to Australia’s religious history. Given the findings of the Royal Commission, it will be widely read both within and beyond the academy. History is, here, a spiritual discipline, and an exercise in hope and reconciliation. — Laura Rademaker, The Australian National University A Bridge Between is the first account of the Benedictine women who worked at New Norcia and the first book-length exploration of twentieth-century life in the Western Australian mission town. From the founding of a grand school intended for ‘nativas’, through links to Mexico and Paraguay then Ireland, India and Belgium, as well as to their house in the Kimberley, and a network of villages near Burgos in the north of Spain, this is a complex international history. A Bridge Between gathers a powerful, fragmented story from the margins of the archive, recalling the Aboriginal women who joined the community in the 1950s and the compelling reunion of missionaries and former students in 2001. By tracing the all-but-forgotten story of the community of Benedictine women who were central to the experience of the mission for many Aboriginal families in the twentieth century, this book lays a foundation for further work.

Lilith: A Feminist History Journal: Number 26 »

Publication date: October 2020
The 2020 issue of Lilith features research on a range of feminist history topics, including an exploration of the performativity of temperance activist Bessie Harrison Lee; a critique of how colonial women are represented in Australian museums; a discussion of representations of motherhood in digital archives; a reconceptualisation of the radical nature of women’s political history; an investigation of the role that dress played in encouraging community acceptance of early women preachers in Australia; an inquiry into how fat bodies became a site of resistance of gender norms among rural women in interwar Western Australia; a study of women’s presence on plantations in colonial north Queensland; a survey of ‘moral treatment’ of puerperal insanity among female patients at Fremantle Lunatic Asylum; and an analysis of the coercion of women into domestic service in interwar Britain.
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Made in China Journal: Volume 5, Issue 2, 2020 »

Publication date: October 2020
The most Gothic description of Capital is also the most accurate. Capital is an abstract parasite, an insatiable vampire and zombie-maker; but the living flesh it converts into dead labor is ours, and the zombies it makes are us. There is a sense in which it simply is the case that the political elite are our servants; the miserable service they provide for us is to launder our libidos, to obligingly re-present for us our disavowed desires as if they had nothing to do with us. – Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism (2009) Ghostly analogies drawn from the gothic imaginary are common in the Marxist canon, with the most famous case in point being the incipit of Marx and Engels’s Manifesto of the Communist Party, where readers are told that ‘the spectre of communism’ is haunting Europe. Far from being considered curious aberrations, these preternatural metaphors have given rise to a whole literature on spectral capitalism that spans to our present stage of late capitalism. In the 1980s, Aihwa Ong made waves with her study of spirit possessions on the shop floors of modern factories in Malaysia, in which she argued that these spectres represented a form of resistance by workers otherwise powerless in the face of capital. In another instance from the 1990s, Jean and John Comaroff introduced the idea of ‘occult economies’ to make sense of the wave of episodes in which real or imagined magical means were deployed in pursuit of material gains that occurred in South Africa after the end of apartheid. While both conceptualisations received a fair share of criticism—not least for presenting the ghosts of capitalism as dreams and the anthropologist as the psychoanalyst instead of dealing with the proper social and historical context of these phenomena—this issue of the Made in China Journal cuts the Gordian knot by focusing on how individuals in China and other contexts in Asia live and interact with the supernatural. In some cases, ghosts, fortune-tellers, shamans, sorcerers, zombies, corpse brides and aliens merely assist people to get by and cope with the difficulties they face in their daily lives; in others, these beings play subversive roles, undermining the rules that underpin contemporary society. In both cases, they challenge the status quo, hence the title ‘spectral revolutions’.

ANU Historical Journal II: Number 2 »

Publication date: October 2020
The second issue of the ANU Historical Journal II showcases the research of authors ranging from undergraduate students through to professors, synthesising multiple generations of historical scholarship in the one volume. This issue of the ANUHJ II contributes to a plethora of subjects, with articles considering Australian journalists in China at the turn of the twentieth century; the moral messages of seventeenth-century Dutch Realist art; the characterisation of the ‘modern’ for 1920s women in Home magazine; how we research and teach Western Australian gay history; the production of Robert J. Hawke’s legacy; how Indonesia’s Borobudur temple reflects the country’s nationalism; the ‘housewife syndrome’ in mid-twentieth century America; Anzac and the formation of Australians’ sense of the past; and John Howard’s Indigenous policy portfolio. Further to this, contributors review some recently published books, while leading historians reflect on the past in lecture and essay form.