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Britain’s Second Embassy to China »

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

Authored by: Caroline Stevenson
Publication date: 2020
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 kotow before the emperor. Detailed analysis of British sources reveal that Amherst was well informed on the kotow issue and made his own decision for which he took full responsibility. Success was always unlikely because of irreconciable 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.

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On Taungurung Land »

Sharing History and Culture

Publication date: 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.

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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.

Meaning, Life and Culture »

In conversation with Anna Wierzbicka

Publication date: 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.

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‘Now is the Psychological Moment’ »

Earle Page and the Imagining of Australia

Authored by: Stephen Wilks
Publication date: October 2020
Earle Christmas Grafton Page (1880–1961) – surgeon, Country Party leader, treasurer and prime minister – was perhaps the most extraordinary visionary to hold high public office in twentieth-century Australia. Over decades, he made determined efforts to seize ‘the psychological moment’, and thereby realise his vision of a decentralised, regionalised and rationally ordered nation. Page’s unique dreaming of a very different Australia encompassed new states, hydroelectricity, economic planning, cooperative federalism and rural universities. His story casts light on the wider place in history of visions of national development. He was Australia’s most important advocate of developmentalism, the important yet little-studied stream of thought that assumes that governments can lead the nation to realise its economic potential. His audacious synthesis of ideas delineated and stretched the Australian political imagination. Page’s rich career confirms that Australia has long inspired popular ideals of national development, but also suggests that their practical implementation was increasingly challenged during the twentieth century. Effervescent, intelligent and somewhat eccentric, Page was one of Australia’s great optimists. Few Australian leaders who stood for so much have since been so neglected.

The Bible in Buffalo Country »

Oenpelli Mission 1925–1931

Publication date: October 2020
Arriving in the remote Arnhem Land Aboriginal settlement of Oenpelli (Gunbalanya) in 1925, Alf and Mary Dyer aimed to bring Christ to a former buffalo shooting camp and an Aboriginal population many whites considered difficult to control. The Bible in Buffalo Country: Oenpelli Mission 1925–1931 represents a snapshot of the tumultuous first six years of the Church Missionary Society’s mission at Oenpelli and the superintendency of Alfred Dyer between 1925 and 1931. Drawing together documentary and photographic sources with local community memory, a story emerges of miscommunication, sickness, constant logistical issues, and an Aboriginal community choosing when and how to engage with the newcomers to their land. This book provides a fascinating and detailed record of the primary sources of the mission, placed alongside the interpretation and insight of local Traditional Owners. Its contents include the historical and archaeological context of the primary source material, the vivid mission reports and correspondence, along with stunning photographs of the mission and relevant maps, and finally the oral history of Esther Manakgu, presenting Aboriginal memory of this complex era. The Bible in Buffalo Country emerged from community desire for access to the source documents of their own history and for their story to be known by the broader Australian public. It is intended for the benefit of communities in western Arnhem Land and is also a rich resource for historians of Aboriginal history (and other scholars in relevant disciplines).

Lilith: A Feminist History Journal: Number 26 »

Publication date: 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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A Linguistic History of Italy »

Storia Linguistica d'Italia

Publication date: September 2020
Italy has a long and fascinating history that has been recorded since the earliest days of Rome itself: we know how politics, ideas, culture, art, architecture, music and much more, have developed over nearly three millennia. At the heart of the life of the peoples of the Italian peninsula and islands is their language. A Linguistic History of Italy tells the story of how the language spoken in Italy developed from Latin to multiple dialects, to the selection of Florentine for a national written language and how Italian became the common language of the entire nation. At each step on this amazing journey language intertwines with other components of Italian social life. The chapters of A Linguistic History of Italy take you through the history of Italian society, art, ideas and language. The chapters focus on the turning points in language history – when Latin ‘became’ Romance, when local dialects were first used in writing, when Florentine was selected as the national language for literature, when Italian became the ‘national language’ – and show how those moments only fully make sense when seen in a broader context. The text is written in both English and Italian, so you can improve your linguistic skills while immersing yourself in Italian culture. And the many images give a visual feast of Italian beauty through the centuries.
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Indigenous Self-Determination in Australia »

Histories and Historiography

Publication date: September 2020
Histories of the colonisation of Australia have recognised distinct periods or eras in the colonial relationship: ‘protection’ and ‘assimilation’. It is widely understood that, in 1973, the Whitlam Government initiated a new policy era: ‘self-determination’. Yet, the defining features of this era, as well as how, why and when it ended, are far from clear. In this collection we ask: how shall we write the history of self-determination? How should we bring together, in the one narrative, innovations in public policy and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander initiatives? How (dis)continuous has ‘self-determination’ been with ‘assimilation’ or with what came after? Among the contributions to this book there are different views about whether Australia is still practising ‘self-determination’ and even whether it ever did or could. This book covers domains of government policy and Indigenous agency including local government, education, land rights, the outstation movement, international law, foreign policy, capital programs, health, public administration, mission policies and the policing of identity. Each of the contributors is a specialist in his/her topic. Few of the contributors would call themselves ‘historians’, but each has met the challenge to consider Australia’s recent past as an era animated by ideas and practices of Indigenous self-determination.

Forts and Fortification in Wallacea »

Archaeological and Ethnohistoric Investigations

Publication date: September 2020
‘This volume presents ground-breaking research on fortified sites in three parts of Wallacea by a highly regarded group of scholars from Australia, Europe, Southeast Asia and the United States. In addition to surveying and dating defensive sites in often remote and difficult terrain, the chapters provide an important and scholarly set of archaeological and ethnohistoric studies that investigate the origin of forts in Wallacea. Socio-political instability from climate events, the materialisation of indigenous belief systems, and the substantial impact of imperial expansion and European colonialism are examined and comprise a significant addition to our knowledge of conflict and warfare in an under-studied part of the Indo-Pacific. The archaeological record for past conflict is frequently ambiguous and the contribution of warfare to social development is mired in debate and paradox. Authors demonstrate that forts and other defensive constructions are costly and complicated structures that, while designed and built to protect a community from a threat of imminent violence, had (and have) complicated life histories as a result of their architectural permanence, strategic locations and traditional cultural and political significance. Understanding why conflict outbreaks – like human colonisation – often appear in the past as a punctuated event can best be approached through long-term records of conflict and violence involving archaeology and allied historical disciplines, as has been successfully done here. The volume is essential reading for archaeologists, cultural heritage managers and those with an interest in conflict studies.’ — Professor Geoffrey Clark, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University, Canberra.