History

What is tinkering? As Katherine Wilson makes clear in Tinkering: Australians reinvent DIY culture, there is an easy answer to that question – but also several complex ones. At the physical level, tinkering is what the protagonists in Wilson’s book do: they convert cars to run on vegetable oil ...

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Lucas Thompson reviews 'Mirror Sydney' by Vanessa Berry

Lucas Thompson
Friday, 22 December 2017

Cities are essentially palimpsests, layered with overlapping lives, structures, and stories. Constantly in flux, each city is a sprawling and unwieldy text that is continually being rewritten. In Mirror Sydney, Vanessa Berry peels back many of the Harbour City’s layers, to reveal a tangle of hidden meanings and bygone ...

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Few organisations defend their reputation more vigorously than the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Long since clasped to the national bosom, the ADF has no intention of being shoehorned out of its prized position at the heart of Australian identity and culture. The first duty of its public affairs personnel is to protect ...

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‘The long years we spent plunged in the Cold War made losers of us all,’ Mikhail Gorbachev lamented after the collapse of the Soviet Union. By then, Gorbachev was unequivocally a loser himself – out of power and soon to be Russia’s least popular former leader, with ratings far lower than Stalin’s ...

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I grew up in a New Australian household, and admit at the outset to a biased view. My Lithuanian-born parents were actual Baltic immigrants among the other nationalities referred to by the blanket designation ‘Balt’. Much of the anecdotal material of Jayne Persian’s Beautiful Balts was deeply familiar to me from childhood ...

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The Good Country begins in February 1840 with a cross-cultural encounter in Djadja Wurrung country, now central Victoria. Two Protectors of Aborigines, recently appointed to the burgeoning pastoral district around Port Phillip, met with an Aboriginal group camped near Mount Mitchell. At this time, the Aboriginal protectorate had been operating for little ...

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As we approach the end of what might be considered another pretty terrible year, it’s worth being reminded that every age has its tribulations ...

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When Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize in 2015, the response in the Anglophone world was general bewilderment. Who was she? The response in Russia was the opposite: intense, personal, targeted. Alexievich wasn’t a real writer, detractors said; she had only won the Nobel because the West loves critics of Putin ...

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It has been widely accepted that the harshness of the Treaty of Versailles led directly to the rise of National Socialism in Germany and to the horrors of World War II. The punitive effects on the German economy, the affront to German honour, and the unleashing of decadence and nihilism in its wake led to the appeal of extreme nationalism and the call for revenge.

The eminent French historian Annette Wieviorka, in The Era of the Witness (1998, English version in 2006), analyses the difficulties arising, in writing historical narratives about recent times, from the exponential growth in the number of people wanting their stories to be heard. Wieviorka, whose field of specialisation is the Shoah, traces the trend of wh ...