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International Review of Environmental History: Volume 7, Issue 2, 2021 »

Edited by: James Beattie
Publication date: 2021
The second issue of International Review of Environmental History for 2021 features contributions on limpets and global environmental history, US bird conservation, soyabean agriculture in South America, settler environmental change in Aotearoa New Zealand, woodlands, communities and ecologies in Australia, and irrigation and agriculture in Australia.

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History Wars »

The Peter Ryan – Manning Clark Controversy

Authored by: Doug Munro
Publication date: 2021
‘In 1993, Manning Clark came under severe (posthumous) attack in the pages of Quadrant by none other than Peter Ryan, who had published five of the six volumes of Clark’s epic A History of Australia. In applying what he called “an overdue axe to a tall poppy”, Ryan lambasted the History as “an imposition on Australian credulity” and declared its author a fraud, both as a historian and a person. This unprecedented public assault by a publisher on his best-selling author was a sensation at the time and remains lodged in the public memory. In History Wars, Doug Munro forensically examines the right and wrongs of Ryan’s allegations, concluding that Clark was more sinned against than sinning and that Ryan repeatedly misrepresented the situation. More than just telling a story, Munro places the Ryan-Clark controversy within the context of Australia’s History Wars. This book is an illuminating saga of that ongoing contest.’ — James Curran, University of Sydney ‘The Ryan-Clark controversy … speaks to the place of Manning Clark in Australia’s national imagination. Had Ryan taken his axe to another historian, it’s unlikely that we would be still talking about it 30 years later. But Clark was the author and keeper of Australia’s national story, however imperfect his scholarship and however blinkered that story. Few, if any, historians in the Anglo-American world have occupied the space that Clark occupied by dint of will, force of personality, and felicity of pen.’ — Donald Wright, University of New Brunswick

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Power and Dysfunction »

The New South Wales Board for the Protection of Aborigines 1883–1940

Authored by: Richard Egan
Publication date: 2021
In 1883 the New South Wales Board for the Protection of Aborigines was tasked with assisting and supporting an Aboriginal population that had been devastated by a brutal dispossession. It began its tenure with little government direction – its initial approach was cautious and reactionary. However, by the turn of the century this Board, driven by some forceful individuals, was squarely focused on a legislative agenda that sought policies to control, segregate and expel Aboriginal people. Over time it acquired extraordinary powers to control Aboriginal movement, remove children from their communities and send them into domestic service, collect wages and hold them in trust, withhold rations, expel individuals from stations and reserves, authorise medical inspections, and prevent any Aboriginal person from leaving the state. Power and Dysfunction explores this Board and uncovers who were the major drivers of these policies, who were its most influential people, and how this body came to wield so much power. Paradoxically, despite its considerable influence, through its bravado, structural dysfunction, flawed policies and general indifference, it failed to manage core aspects of Aboriginal policy. In the 1930s, when the Board was finally challenged by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal groups seeking its abolition, it had become moribund, paranoid and secretive as it railed against all detractors. When it was finally disbanded in 1940, its 57-year legacy had touched every Aboriginal community in New South Wales with lasting consequences that still resonate today.

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The Genesis of a Policy »

Defining and Defending Australia's National Interest in the Asia-Pacific, 1921–57

Authored by: Honae Cuffe
Publication date: 2021
The years 1921–57 marked a period of immense upheaval for Australia as the nation navigated economic crises, the threat of aggressive Japanese expansion and shifting power distributions with the world transitioning from British leadership to that of the US. This book offers a reassessment of Australia’s foreign policy origins and maturation during these tumultuous years. Successive Australian governments carefully observed these global and regional forces. The policy that developed in response was an integrated one—that is, one that sought to balance Australia’s particular geopolitical circumstances with great power relationships and, in assessing the value of these relationships, ensure that the nation’s trade, security and diplomatic interests were served. Amid the economic and strategic uncertainty of the interwar years, the Australian government acknowledged the shifting power distributions in the global and Asia-Pacific orders and that neither the policies of Britain nor the US completely served the national interest. The nation, accordingly, sought to intervene within the policies of the great powers to ensure its particular interests were secured. This geopolitically informed, interventionist approach, which had its genesis in the 1930s, is traced throughout the 1940s and 1950s, highlighting Australia’s gradual and uneven transition from the British world order to that of the US and the frank assessments made about which relationship best served Australia’s interests. The Genesis of a Policy identifies a comprehensive and pragmatic approach—albeit not always effectively executed—in Australian foreign policy tradition that has not been previosuly examined.

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Georges River Blues »

Swamps, Mangroves and Resident Action, 1945–1980

Authored by: Heather Goodall
Publication date: 2021
The lower Georges River, on Dharawal and Dharug lands, was a place of fishing grounds, swimming holes and picnics in the early twentieth century. But this all changed after World War II, when rapidly expanding industry and increasing population fell heaviest on this river, polluting its waters and destroying its bush. Local people campaigned to defend their river. They battled municipal councils, who were themselves struggling against an explosion of garbage as population and economy changed. In these blues (an Australian term for conflict), it was mangroves and swamps that became the focus of the fight. Mangroves were expanding because of increasing pollution and early climate change. Councils wanted to solve their garbage problems by bulldozing mangroves and bushland, dumping garbage and, eventually, building playing fields. So they attacked mangroves as useless swamps that harboured disease. Residents defended mangroves by mobilising ecological science to show that these plants nurtured immature fish and protected the river’s health. These suburban resident action campaigns have been ignored by histories of the Australian environmental movement, which have instead focused on campaigns to save distant ‘wilderness’ or inner-city built environments. The Georges River environmental conflicts may have been less theatrical, but they were fought out just as bitterly. And local Georges River campaigners – men, women and often children – were just as tenacious. They struggled to ‘keep bushland in our suburbs’, laying the foundation for today’s widespread urban environmental consciousness. Cover: Ruth Staples was a courageous Georges River campaigner who lived all her life around Lime Kiln Bay at Oatley West. She kept on fighting to regenerate the river until her death, aged 90, in 2020.

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The Federated States of Micronesia’s Engagement with the Outside World »

Control, Self-Preservation and Continuity

Authored by: Gonzaga Puas
Publication date: 2021
This study addresses the neglected history of the people of the Federated States of Micronesia’s (FSM) engagement with the outside world. Situated in the northwest Pacific, FSM’s strategic location has led to four colonial rulers. Histories of FSM to date have been largely written by sympathetic outsiders. Indigenous perspectives of FSM history have been largely absent from the main corpus of historical literature. A new generation of Micronesian scholars are starting to write their own history from Micronesian perspectives and using Micronesian forms of history. This book argues that Micronesians have been dealing successfully with the outside world throughout the colonial era in ways colonial authorities were often unaware of. This argument is sustained by examination of oral histories, secondary sources, interviews, field research and the personal experience of a person raised in the Mortlock Islands of Chuuk State. It reconstructs how Micronesian internal processes for social stability and mutual support endured, rather than succumbing to the different waves of colonisation. This study argues that colonisation did not destroy Micronesian cultures and identities, but that Micronesians recontextualised the changing conditions to suit their own circumstances. Their success rested on the indigenous doctrines of adaptation, assimilation and accommodation deeply rooted in the kinship doctrine of eaea fengen (sharing) and alilis fengen (assisting each other). These values pervade the Constitution of the FSM, which formally defines the modern identity of its indigenous peoples, reasserting and perpetuating Micronesian values and future continuity.

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Australian Journal of Biography and History: No. 5, 2021 »

Publication date: August 2021
This special issue of the Australian Journal of Biography and History focuses on political biography. The 10 peer-reviewed articles and review essays collectively demonstrate that political biography is growing beyond just ‘one damned life after another’, and that there are new and productive paths open for practitioners, readers and critics of this genre. They offer a critical snapshot of the diverse approaches and attitudes to political biography in contemporary Australia. Forty years after her first critical examination of the state of political biography in Australia, Kate White makes a bold call for academics to ‘rethink their approach’ by considering novel strategies to ‘move beyond the narrative form’. Blair Williams demonstrates that although increasing numbers of women are writing and practising political biography, there remain few good examples of feminist political biography; more can be done to develop a framework for feminist political biography in Australia. Joshua Black examines the political memoir and diary genres in the broader context of the rise of life writing in the twentieth century, adopting former minister Neal Blewett’s A Cabinet Diary (1999) as a case study. In a sweeping examination of prime ministerial portraiture, Sarah Engledow reconsiders the visual performance of leadership for posterity and, ultimately, questions the biographical utility of such performances. Daniel Oakman delineates the links that politics has to mainstream Australian life via that great staple of popular culture, sport. Chris Wallace in her account of a quietly controversial and eventually abandoned biography of Robert Menzies early in his second prime ministership demonstrates that life stories are powerful but risky commodities in the fast-changing political domain. Similarly, in a methodological reflection on his award-winning biography Tiberius with a Telephone, Patrick Mullins critically explores the concerted attempts of the former prime minister to control and manipulate the public and archival record of his life. Robert Tickner, the only contributor who was also an elected political practitioner, uses his very personal article to call on others to write political and policy memoirs as a ‘public good’ that helps to encourage the ‘noble enterprise’ of participation in public life. In his analysis of backbencher memoirs, Stephen Wilks calls for more of the foot soldiers of politics—backbenchers, humble and otherwise—to write memoirs as an insight into the working lives of the typical politician, and to explore what wider significance they have as political players. And Tim Rowse and Murray Goot indicate in a powerful review essay that critically examines Warren Mundine’s political memoir In Black + White, political life narratives are implicated in the difficult postcolonial politics of race, representation and recognition.

International Review of Environmental History: Volume 7, Issue 1, 2021 »

Edited by: James Beattie, Ruth Morgan, Margaret Cook
Publication date: June 2021
Arising from the ‘Placing Gender’ workshop held in Melbourne in 2018, this collection brings together contributions that demonstrate different approaches to undertaking gender analysis in environmental history. Focusing on non-Indigenous women and men in the Anglo-world from the mid-nineteenth century, some adopt new tools to excavate familiar terrain, while others listen closely to voices that have rarely been heard in the field. This issue argues that recasting the making of settler places in terms of their gendered production and experience not only enriches their own environmental history, but also broadens the historian’s enquiry to encompass the other lands implicated in the production of settler places.

Sound Citizens »

Australian Women Broadcasters Claim their Voice, 1923–1956

Authored by: Catherine Fisher
Publication date: June 2021
In 1954 Dame Enid Lyons, the first woman elected to the Australian House of Representatives, argued that radio had ‘created a bigger revolution in the life of a woman than anything that has happened any time’ as it brought the public sphere into the home and women into the public sphere. Taking this claim as its starting point, Sound Citizens examines how a cohort of professional women broadcasters, activists and politicians used radio to contribute to the public sphere and improve women’s status in Australia from the introduction of radio in 1923 until the introduction of television in 1956. This book reveals a much broader and more complex history of women’s contributions to Australian broadcasting than has been previously acknowledged. Using a rich archive of radio magazines, station archives, scripts, personal papers and surviving recordings, Sound Citizens traces how women broadcasters used radio as a tool for their advocacy; radio’s significance to the history of women’s advancement; and how broadcasting was used in the development of women’s citizenship in Australia. It argues that women broadcasters saw radio as a medium that had the potential to transform women’s lives and status in society, and that they worked to both claim their own voices in the public sphere and to encourage other women to become active citizens. Radio provided a platform for women to contribute to public discourse and normalised the presence of women’s voices in the public sphere, both literally and figuratively.

Aboriginal History Journal: Volume 44 »

Edited by: Crystal McKinnon, Ben Silverstein
Publication date: May 2021
In this volume, Charlotte Ward’s narration of re-enactments of the Endeavour’s landing in Cooktown traces local processes of engaging with and producing histories that bring together stories of that landing with the much longer story of Guugu Yimithirr sovereignty. Heather Burke, Ray Kerkhove, Lynley A. Wallis, Cathy Keys and Bryce Barker analyse the extent of fear on the Queensland frontier through a historical and archaeological study of homes and huts and their fortification. In a collaborative article, Myfany Turpin, Felicity Meakins, Marie Mudgedell, Angie Tchooga and Calista Yeoh consider three performances of Puranguwana, a ‘classical’ Western Desert song that emerges from the death of Yawalyurru, a Pintupi man. Paige Gleeson offers us a new perspective on the well-known image of Warlpiri-Anmatyerr man Gwoja Tjungurrayi, known since the 1950s as ‘One Pound Jimmy’, an image featured on postage stamps and on the two dollar coin. And Gretchen Stolte’s study of Queensland Aboriginal Creations situates the production of boomerangs for sale as work of cultural importance, enriching understandings of Aboriginal artwork and its production.