Australian History

Andy Lloyd James reviews '26 Views of the Starburst World'

Andy Lloyd James
Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Words matter, and there can be few more misleading ones in Australian history than ‘settlement’, as used to describe the period immediately following the arrival of the First Fleet. It connotes understanding and agreement. In Sydney Cove, by contrast, five distinct groups were present: Governor Phillip and his immediate entourage; naval vessels and their crews; ...

Over the last few years, issues associated with underdevelopment in Aboriginal Australia have been widely canvassed in the mainstream press, led by the likes of Noel Pearson, Marcia Langton, and Peter Sutton. This new edited volume adopts a somewhat different approach to Aboriginal development, focusing on Indigenous involvement in natural resource management around ...

By its title, Tales from the Political Trenches promises reportage from the front line, eyewitness accounts of what really happens in the hidden zones of the political battlefield. The tales told here follow a rollercoaster sequence of political events: the meteoric rise of Kevin Rudd, Maxine McKew’s triumph over ...

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I n 2013, Australians will celebrate the centenary of modern Canberra. This singular anniversary – intensely local but also emphatically national – commemorates not the actual building of the capital (that process was fraught and would not gather pace until the 1920s), but rather the optimistic laying on 12 March 1913 of three foundation stones for the grandiose ...

Peter Menkhorst reviews 'Curious Minds'

Peter Menkhorst
Sunday, 25 November 2012

Curious Minds sets out to explore the naturalists and scientists who brought Australia’s flora and fauna into the public consciousness: on the face of it a laudable aim, but one not totally fulfilled. From the title onwards the book seems confused in its aims and in its style. Is the book intended to be about people (the curious naturalists), flora and faun ...

‘The product under consideration is Shist.’ So began New Zealand historian Keith Sinclair’s discussion of short histories in 1968. His irreverent diminutive is still occasionally heard among professional historians of a certain age. It is less often recalled that Sinclair was defending the worth of the short history ...

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Frank Jackson reviews 'The Poor Relation' by Stuart Macintyre

Frank Jackson
Friday, 23 December 2011

During the lead-up to the last United States presidential election, I found myself waiting for a train at the Princeton railway station with nothing to read. I picked up a copy of the student newspaper. Much of it was standard Bush bashing, intermingled with unrealistic expectations of what Obama might achieve. But one sentence in an editorial caught my eye: ‘It i ...

Australian Historical Studies (AHS), which can be traced back to the 1940s, has developed into one of Australia’s leading social science journals. The standard of scholarship is consistently high, and the honour of having one’s article accepted in such an established and selective publication is keenly sought ...

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In 1988 the Hawke government put a constitutional amendment to a referendum. On the recommendation of the government’s Constitution Commission, we were invited to vote to enshrine guarantees of trial by jury, property rights, and freedom of religion. The proposition was rejected by all states. There is nothing surprising in that. We almost always do vote against c ...

'The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there,’ said historian David Lowenthal in 1985, adopting L.P. Hartley’s famous opening line from The Go-Between. Most historians agree, proceeding from the premise that the past is remote and in need of discovery, and that there is no automatic link between people in the present and those in the past. It is a supposition in complete contradistinction to non-professionals’ ideas about the past, according to historians Paul Ashton and Paula Hamilton, directors of the Australian Centre for Public History at the University of Technology, Sydney. For most Australians, history takes place where they ‘feel at home’. That is, it is a domesticated pursuit, consumed in familiar surrounds, and more often than not related most intimately to family and genealogy.

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