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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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Leading from the North »

Rethinking Northern Australia Development

Edited by: Ruth Wallace, Sharon Harwood, Rolf Gerritsen, Bruce Prideaux, Tom Brewer, Linda Rosenman, Allan Dale
Publication date: September 2021
Leading from the North aims to improve public dialogue around the future of Northern Australia to underpin robust and flexible planning and policy frameworks. A number of areas are addressed including social infrastructure, governance systems, economic, business and regional development, climate and its implications, the roles and trends in demography and migration in the region. This book not only speaks to the issues of development in Northern Australia but also other regional areas, and examines opportunities for growth with changing economies and technologies. The authors of this book consist of leading researchers, academics and experts from Charles Darwin University, The Australian National University, James Cook University, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and many other collaborative partners. Many of the authors have first-hand experience of living and working in Northern Australia. They understand the real issues and challenges faced by people living in Northern Australia and other similar regional areas. Backed by their expertise and experience, the authors present their discussions and findings from a local perspective.

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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Linguistic Organisation and Native Title »

The Wik Case, Australia

Publication date: September 2021
Classical Aboriginal societies in Australia have commonly been described in terms of social organisation and local organisation. This book presents rich detail on a third and related domain that has not been given the same kind of attention: linguistic organisation. Basing their analyses on fieldwork among the Wik peoples of Cape York Peninsula, north Australia, Peter Sutton and Ken Hale show how cosmology, linguistic variation, language prehistory, clan totemic identities, geopolitics, land use and land ownership created a vibrant linguistic organisation in a classical Aboriginal society. This has been a society long in love with language and languages. Its people have richly imbued the domain of rights and interests in country—the foundations of their native title as recognised in Australian law—with rights and interests in the abundance of languages and dialects given to them at the start of the world.

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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Creative Frictions »

Arts Leadership, Policy and Practice in Multicultural Australia

Authored by: Cecelia Cmielewski
Publication date: August 2021
Creative Frictions explores the relationship between visionary aspects of practice and policy. Despite over 30 years of arts and cultural policy attention, there remains a widespread view among the general public and artists alike that creative production does not reflect Australia’s culturally diverse population. Australia’s increasingly complex society can no longer be confined to ‘essentialised’ or traditional definitions of ethnic communities. While this diversity and its emerging complexity can be ‘celebrated’ as a source of creativity and innovation, it can also give rise to social, political and creative challenges. A key challenge that remains for the arts sector is its ability to support the creative expression of cultural difference. One measure of inclusive creative production is to look at the participation of artists of non–English speaking backgrounds (NESBs)—a problematic term discussed in the book. There are half as many NESB artists compared to those of other professions participating in the workforce, and while under-representation is an issue for management in the arts sector, the question of representation also benefits from being understood more broadly beyond the narrow sense of multiculturalism as a tool to manage cultural difference. This book explores the crucial role of creative leaders and how they work with the ‘mainstream’ while maintaining their creative integrity and independence to generate a ‘virtuous’ circle of change. Creative Frictions argues that it is the NESB artists who lead change in the arts sector and that creative and organisational leadership working in partnership make creative use of ‘friction’ and develop the necessary ‘trust’ to generate the ‘traction’ for a supportive multicultural arts milieu.

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.

The Absent Presence of the State in Large-Scale Resource Extraction Projects »

Publication date: August 2021
Standing on the broken ground of resource extraction settings, the state is sometimes like a chimera: its appearance and intentions are misleading and, for some actors, it is unknowable and incomprehensible. It may be easily mistaken for someone or something else, like a mining company, for example. With rich ethnographic material, this volume tackles critical questions about the nature of contemporary states, studied from the perspective of resource extraction projects in Papua New Guinea, Australia and beyond. It brings together a sustained focus on the unstable and often dialectical relationship between the presence and the absence of the state in the context of resource extraction. Across the chapters, contributors discuss cases of proposed mining ventures, existing large-scale mining operations and the extraction of natural gas. Together, they illustrate how the concept of absent presence can be brought to life and how it can enhance our understanding of the state as well as relations and processes forming in extractive contexts, thus providing a novel contribution to the anthropology of the state and the anthropology of extraction. ‘The Absent Presence fills a major gap in our knowledge about the relationship between states and companies – at a time when resource extraction seems to be more contested than ever. Bainton and Skrzypek have curated an incredibly impressive volume that should be read by all those interested in exploring corporate and state power, and the ever-present impacts of extraction. A highly recommended read.’ — Professor Deanna Kemp, Director of the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, The University of Queensland ‘Countless books have been written on the sovereign state and how it imposes a particular kind of order on economic and social interactions. What is original and compelling about this collection is the portrait of how two very different states converge when it comes to “extractive ventures”. From the presumption of exclusive sovereignty over mineral resources, to the bargains that are struck with major (often global) corporations, and the relative indifference to environmental impacts, there is a remarkable consistency in the patterns that are referred to as “state effects”. These effects are brought from the background to the foreground in this book through the blending of creative and critical thinking with detailed empirical research.’ — Tim Dunne, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Professor of International Relations, The University of Queensland ‘This brilliant and intriguing title provides a timely contribution to understanding the actual functions and strategies of state (and state-like) institutions in resource arenas. The dialectics of presence-absence and its refractions at different levels and scales of government allow the authors to go beyond stereotypes about the (strong, weak, failed or corrupt) state, highlighting more commonalities than expected between Papua New Guinea and Australia, and even New Caledonia.’ — Dr Pierre-Yves Le Meur, Anthropologist, Senior Researcher, French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development, Joint Research Unit SENS (Knowledge Environment Society)