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The Chinese in Papua New Guinea »

Past, Present and Future

Publication date: May 2024
Papua New Guinean, Chinese and Australian people have long been entangled in the creation of complex histories and political debates concerning the similarities and differences of each group. These debates are fundamental to understanding how a sense of national unity in Papua New Guinea is formed, as well as within analyses of the wider world of strategic power dynamics and influence. The Chinese in Papua New Guinea offers a comprehensive and nuanced examination of the Chinese in Papua New Guinea. Chinese, Papua New Guinean and Australian interactions are analysed in the context of ongoing shifts in colonial power, increased regional engagement with China, and current political instabilities across the Indo-Pacific region. The many ways the Chinese have been defined as actors in PNG’s history and politics are analysed against the backdrop of a rapidly changing global order. The complexity of Chinese experiences within Papua New Guinea is given expression, here, with chapters that stress political and historical heterogeneity, the importance of language for understanding Chinese social relations, and that articulate rich personal experiences of race relations.

Capital Punishment, Clemency and Colonialism in Papua New Guinea, 1954–65 »

Authored by: Murray Chisholm
Publication date: 2024
This study builds on a close examination of an archive of files that advised the Australian Commonwealth Executive on Papua New Guineans found guilty of capital offences in PNG between 1954 and 1965. These files provide telling insight into conceptions held by officials at different stages of the justice process into justice, savagery and civilisation, and colonialism and Australia’s role in the world. The particular combination of idealism and self-interest, liberalism and paternalism, and justice and authoritarianism axiomatic to Australian colonialism becomes apparent and enables discussion of Australia’s administration of PNG in the lead up the acceptance of independence as an immediate policy goal. The files show Australia gathering the authority to grant mercy into the hands of the Commonwealth and then devolving it back to the territories. In these transitions, the capital case review files show the trajectory of Australian colonialism during a period when the administration was unsure of the duration and nature of its future relationship with PNG.

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Quaternary Palaeontology and Archaeology of Sumatra »

Publication date: April 2024
“The Indonesian island of Sumatra is part of a chain of islands making up Sunda and the Malay Archipelago. Sumatra is one of the largest islands in the world, housing unique and globally important tropical rainforests, a diverse array of rare plants and magnificent animals, and a population of 60 million who speak a range of Austronesian languages. As beautifully exemplified in this volume, Sumatra is a place which preserves a distinct and long-term human history, studies of which began in earnest with Eugene Dubois’s explorations in the 1880s to find our ancestral ‘missing link’. Archaeological investigation of megaliths and historic empires carry on to this day. A range of topics are explored here, including palaeontological study of fossil mammals and their environments, the routes that Homo erectus took during their wanderings across Indonesia, and the growth and development of societies and empires in more recent periods. This exemplary volume presents a revised view of the history of palaeontological and archaeological research as well as new ground-breaking field research, laying the foundation for future research on the biological and cultural evolution of one of the most majestic islands of the world.” ­— Professor Michael Petraglia, Director of the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution, Griffith University

Ginkgo Village »

Trauma and Transformation in Rural China

Authored by: Tamara Jacka
Publication date: 2024
Ginkgo Village provides an original and powerfully intimate bottom-up perspective on China’s recent tumultuous history. Drawing on ethnographic and life-history research, the book takes readers deep into a village in a mountainous region of central-eastern China known as Eyuwan. In the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, villagers in this region experienced terrible trauma and far-reaching socio‑economic and political change. In the civil war (1927–1949), they were slaughtered in fighting between Nationalist and Communist forces. During the Great Leap Forward (1958–1961), they suffered appalling famine. Since the 1990s, mass labour outmigration has lifted local villagers out of poverty and fuelled major transformations in their circumstances and practices, social and family relationships, and values and aspirations. At the heart of this book are eight tales that recreate Ginkgo Village life and the interactions between villagers and the researchers who visit them. These tales use storytelling to engender an empathetic understanding of Ginkgo Villagers’ often traumatic life-experiences; to present concrete details about transformations in everyday village life in an engaging manner; and to explore the challenges and rewards of fieldwork research that attempts empathetic understanding across cultures.

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Uneven Connections »

A Partial History of the Mobile Phone in Papua New Guinea

Authored by: Robert J. Foster
Publication date: March 2024
In the first years of the 21st century, economic liberalisation began to transform telecommunications services throughout the Pacific Islands. Government regulators, corporate executives and everyday consumers hopefully imagined that opening mobile phone markets to competition would result in greater access, lower costs and accelerated development. Uneven Connections examines the ways in which liberalisation took hold in Papua New Guinea (PNG) when a unit of the Caribbean-based mobile network operator Digicel Group Ltd. seized the opportunity to compete with the state-sponsored incumbent. The book highlights how mobile phones entered the lives of urban and rural Papua New Guineans after Digicel’s arrival in 2007. In so doing, it describes a moral economy in which companies, consumers and state agents continually negotiate who owes what to whom. In what ways have these various actors invented and negotiated new forms of both freedom and constraint? Uneven Connections advances understanding of how a so-called digital revolution in PNG unfolded, resulting in outcomes that often confounded the expectations of policy makers and ordinary citizens alike. It assesses the extent to which some of the promises of this revolution have been redeemed and identifies the challenges faced by companies, consumers and state agents in establishing and experiencing novel forms of uneven connectivity. The book provides a short and selective history of mobile phones in PNG, ending with the sale of Digicel’s Pacific operations to the Australian company Telstra in 2022.

International Review of Environmental History: Volume 9, Issue 2, 2023 »

Edited by: James Beattie
Publication date: February 2024
The histories and legacies of extraction and toxicity are innumerable. Globally, these forces have both facilitated and been a by-product of industrial growth, technological advancement and nation-building for centuries, but so too have they enabled and exacerbated environmental degradation, structural inequality, and the continued colonisation of lands and peoples. In addressing the histories and legacies of extraction and toxicity, this special issue of the International Review of Environmental History draws attention to several of the most pressing themes taken up by historians dealing with these processes. The papers within explore how extraction and toxicity have been woven into the colonial fabric of various countries, the ways that the exploitation and contamination of specific landscapes have come to define the history of such places and spaces, the response of various groups to these processes, and the extent to which long-term environmental consequences wrought by extractive practices and their toxic by-products are—in many cases—yet to be revealed. The articles in this special issue span Australia, Africa, the Pacific, and the Southern Ocean, consider the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, and draw on a range of disciplinary methods and perspectives. What binds them together is a deep engagement with the significant legacies of extraction and toxicity that endure into the present and inform contemporary environmental debates.

Australian Journal of Biography and History: No. 8, 2024 »

Publication date: February 2024
The Australian Journal of Biography and History No 8 (2024) applies biographical methodologies to enliven themes and episodes in Australian history. Studying John Wear Burton, the head of the Commonwealth department of external affairs between 1947 and 1950, Adam Hughes Henry explores some of the ways in which anti-communism in 1950s Australia served to limit critical thinking on the country’s foreign policy. Gary Osmond and Jan Richardson write on the Black sports promoter and entrepreneur Jack Dowridge, who lived and largely thrived in Brisbane between the mid-1870s until his death in 1922. Phillip Deery and Julie Kimber examine the often-overlooked figure of Evdokia Petrov, considering the ‘disjuncture between historical imagination and the archival record.’ In Richard Fotheringham’s article on the variety entertainer and singer Jenny Howard, aka Daisy Blowes, Howard emerges as a character in her own play. Martin Thomas relates in his article ‘Patrick White and the Path to Sarsaparilla’ how the novelist Patrick White demanded a ‘final pound of flesh from his biographer’ by making David Marr ‘sit with him at the dining table while he read it in front of him from beginning to end.’ The result was a biography of ‘complete artistic freedom’, ‘unauthorised’ certainly, but ‘aided and abetted by its subject.’ Patricia Clarke describes the experience of the journalist Iris Dexter, née Norton (1907–1974), in seeking, but until 1950 failing to obtain, a divorce from an abusive husband, and the devastating impact the episode had on her life. Two further articles in this number utilise collective biographical methodologies to illuminate historical episodes which have become emblematic in Australian history: Nichola Garvey relates the story of the ‘death ship’ Neptune, which arrived in New South Wales in 1790 as part of the infamous second fleet; and Peter Woodley examines the 1891 Queensland bush workers’ strike. This affair has generally been portrayed as a ‘war’ between capital and labour, but as Woodley argues, the strike also showed the ‘often intense and fraught intersections of individuals’ lives’, many of which would never have come to light were it not for the strike and its judicial consequences.

Mandates and Missteps »

Australian Government Scholarships to the Pacific – 1948 to 2018

Authored by: Anna Kent
Publication date: February 2024
Mandates and Missteps is the first comprehensive history of Australian government scholarships to the Pacific, from the first scheme in 1948 to the Australia Awards of 2018. The study of scholarships provides a window into foreign and education policy making, across decades, and the impact such policies have had on individuals and communities. This work demonstrates the broad role these scholarships have played in bilateral relationships between Australia and Pacific Island territories and countries. The famed Colombo Plan is here put in its proper context within international aid and international education history. Australian scholarship programs, it is argued, ultimately reflect Australia, and its perception of itself as a nation in the Pacific, more than the needs of Pacific Island nations. Mandates and Missteps traces Australia’s role as both a coloniser in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and a participant in the process of decolonisation across the Pacific. This study will be of interest to students and scholars of international development, international education and foreign policy.

The Chinese Communist Party »

A 100-Year Trajectory

Publication date: January 2024
This volume brings together an international team of prominent scholars from a range of disciplines, with the aim of investigating the many facets of the Chinese Communist Party’s 100-year trajectory. It combines a level of historical depth mostly found in single-authored monographs with the thematic and disciplinary breadth of an edited volume. This work stands out for its long-term and multiscale approach, offering complex and nuanced insights, eschewing any Party grand narrative, and unravelling underlying trends and logics, composed of adaption but also contradictions, resistance and sometimes setbacks, that may be overlooked when focusing on the short term. Rather than putting forward an overall argument about the nature of the Party, the many perspectives presented in this volume highlight the complex internal dynamics of the Party, the diversity of its roles in relation to the state, as well as in its interaction with society beyond the state. Our historical approach stresses impermanence beyond the apparent permanence of the Party’s organisation and ideology while also bringing to light the recycling of past practices and strategies. Looking at the Party’s evolution over time shows how its founding structures and objectives have had a long-lasting impact as well as how they have been tweaked and rearranged to adapt to the new economic and social environment the Party contributed to creating.

Lilith: A Feminist History Journal: Number 29 »

Publication date: December 2023
The 2023 issue of Lilith showcases the journal’s dedication to encouraging underrepresented voices in historical writing, including early-career scholars, First Nations voices and historians from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Six of the research articles in the issue focus on nineteenth and early twentieth-century topics, with papers on women’s roles in interwar international diplomacy, on Indian prostitution under British colonialism, on the relationship between interracial rape and white femininity on the Australian colonial frontier, on the role of gender in the NSW Shipwreck Society of the late nineteenth century, and on the struggle of women for public lavatories in 1912 Meanjin (Brisbane). Two of the research articles concern more recent histories, with papers on the role of Māori women in feminist movements of the 1970s, and the construction of sexual consent in Dolly Magazine of the late twentieth century. There is also a review essay about global histories of feminism and gender struggle which evaluates several recent such works, reflecting on their methodological innovations and concerns. The edition includes six short book reviews that span a wide range of international and local interests, covering topics such as the digital humanities, the global history of sexual violence, US queer history, Australian queer women’s history, gender in European colonial travel, and the history of the pram in Australia. Several of the articles in the volume concern the international engagement of feminist struggles and intercultural questions in relation to gendered roles in history, while others gesture beyond the concerns of historical studies alone, addressing issues of rape culture, political activism, women’s spaces, and gendered emotions, making valuable contributions to the wider Australian humanities and social sciences. The volume exemplifies the value of balancing international trends in feminist history with the recognition of local episodes in the history of gender struggle, underscoring Lilith's commitment to advancing new forms of feminist historical writing and showcasing innovative research by scholars at diverse career stages.
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