Cultural Studies, Historical Studies, Life Writing

Voices from the West End

06.02.12 | Permalink | Comments Off on Voices from the West End

On a triangle of land that points out to sea at the mouth of the Swan River is Fremantle’s heritage district, the West End, renowned for its colonial architecture that includes the largest collection of heritage-listed buildings in Western Australia and its oldest public building, the Round House gaol (1831). Although Fremantle has often been threatened by the demands of redevelopment, today it is recognised as one of the world’s best preserved examples of a nineteenth-century port city and colonial townscape. ‘Freo’, as it is known locally, also has an exceptionally diverse multicultural community, lending a special character that is the legacy of its role as a historical gateway to Australia, the first point of contact for generations of migrants and visitors arriving by sea from Europe. This mix of cultures and traditions has shaped the life of the cosmopolitan city, which now has a population of close to 30,000.

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Communication and Media Studies, Cultural Studies, e-Research, Historical Studies

Toward a Global Digital History

25.11.11 | Permalink | Comments Off on Toward a Global Digital History

Digital history spans disciplines and can take many forms. Computer technology started to revolutionize the study of history more than three decades ago, and yet genres and formats for recording and presenting history using digital media are not well established and we are only now starting to see large-scale benefits. New modes of publication, new methods for doing research, and new channels of communication are making historical research richer, more relevant, and globally accessible. Many applications of computer-based research and publication are natural extensions of the established techniques for researching and writing history. Others are consciously experimental. This chapter discusses the latest advances in the digital history field and explores how new media technologies are reconfiguring the study of the past.

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Cultural Studies, Historical Studies, Humanities

Historical Encyclopedia of Western Australia

07.11.11 | Permalink | Comments Off on Historical Encyclopedia of Western Australia

Almost a decade in the making, the Historical Encyclopedia of Western Australia, edited by Jenny Gregory and Jan Gothard, is now the most up to date and authoritative composite portrait of the state’s history. This work is a remarkable achievement. It is the result of a sustained collaborative effort that is a credit to the skill and energy of the editorial team and to the more than three hundred contributors, along with hundreds of expert readers. In 1912 J. S. Battye, the well-known State Librarian of Western Australia, produced the Cyclopedia of Western Australia: An Historical and Commercial Review, Descriptive and Biographical Facts, Figures and Illustrations, which remained a central reference resource for WA history throughout the twentieth century. The highly regarded volumes of the sesquicentenary series appeared in 1979, followed in 1981 by the influential A New History of Western Australia, edited by Tom Stannage.

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Communication and Media Studies, Cultural Studies, e-Research, Humanities

eResearch Infrastructure for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

29.04.11 | Permalink | Comments Off on eResearch Infrastructure for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

Australian researchers are recognised internationally for delivering solutions to the most complex and challenging questions facing cultures and communities. Their contributions are vital to the nation’s social wellbeing. Encompassing the study of society, identity, economy, business, governance, history, culture and creativity, this broad field links universities, government agencies, collecting institutions and creative industries with policy development and with communities. However, complex issues of national and global significance cannot be solved in isolation.  They demand collaborative approaches which in turn require the infrastructure to support them. Across all sectors, research practices are being fundamentally influenced by leading-edge ICT, and social and cultural data of immense significance is being generated in many different forms. With considerable investment worldwide in eResearch infrastructure, innovation in the humanities, arts and social sciences is increasingly dependent on enabling technology to support research excellence.

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Cultural Studies, Historical Studies, Life Writing

Lives Recovered and Reclaimed

25.04.11 | Permalink | Comments Off on Lives Recovered and Reclaimed

A life can be recovered in many ways: through retrieving, reclaiming, remembering, re-imagining, revising, restoring, recognising, re-telling or re-placing. In this special issue of Life Writing the impulse to pay respect to lost, hidden or unacknowledged lives flows through the papers, all of which are drawn from the major international conference on ‘Recovering Lives’ convened by Cassandra Pybus, Caroline Turner and Paul Arthur in 2008, and hosted by the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University. With sessions held at the National Museum of Australia, accompanying exhibitions, artists’ talks and film screenings, the conference aimed to break down traditional barriers between disciplines, media and ways of seeing. Historians, writers, filmmakers, anthropologists, curators, journalists, artists and activists interpreted the theme in ways that put the spotlight on people and practices that the global vision, for all its benefits, has left behind, overlooked, marginalised, or even enslaved.

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Cultural Studies, Historical Studies, Life Writing, Literary Studies

Unearthing the Past

20.04.11 | Permalink | Comments Off on Unearthing the Past

When Hitler’s troops invaded and occupied the city of Kharkov in Ukraine, my grandparents Nadia, 26, and Petro, 30, had two young children, aged 7 and 5. My mother had not yet been born. In this tense and uncertain period it was unclear whether Ukraine would ultimately be controlled by Stalin or Hitler. There was nothing to recommend one over the other, they often said. Both regimes were brutal and both targeted Ukrainians. Mid-1943 marked a turning point—the end of their lives in Ukraine and the first stage of a journey into the unknown that led to their eventual arrival in Australia in 1949 as post-war refugees. They were packed into railway goods wagons with other Ukrainians and were taken from Kharkov, where they had built their world, to Dwikozy in Poland. This was the place of their first displacement from everything that made up their history and identity—homeland, language, culture, family, community, and career. Like many other refugees my grandparents attempted to compensate for the loss of their past by trying to recover it repeatedly years later in the stories that they told.

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Cultural Studies, Historical Studies, Humanities, Museum Studies

Exploration and Endeavour

08.02.11 | Permalink | Comments Off on Exploration and Endeavour

Exploration & Endeavour: The Royal Society of London and the South Seas celebrates the society’s 350th anniversary by bringing together a selection of iconic objects and original documents that highlight the society’s key role in European maritime exploration and discovery in the Pacific. The Royal Society, the world’s oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, was founded on the premise that knowledge should be subject to independent verification—‘freeing oneself from unexamined opinion, particularly through the study of empirical data’, as Andrew Sayers puts it in his introduction to the beautifully produced accompanying book publication. The society’s motto, Nullius in verba (‘Take no-one’s word for it’), attests to this commitment to independence of thought, underpinned by methodologically rigorous inquiry. Fellows of the society include larger-than-life figures who in many cases have revolutionised their field: Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, Christopher Wren, Charles Darwin, Ernest Rutherford, Albert Einstein, Dorothy Hodgkin, Francis Crick, James Watson, Stephen Hawking and, with particular relevance in the Pacific context, James Cook and Joseph Banks.

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Biography, Cultural Studies, Digital Scholarship, Life Writing

Making Them Live

20.12.10 | Permalink | Comments Off on Making Them Live

The Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB) is the premier reference resource for the study of the lives of Australians who were significant in Australian history. Its 50 year anniversary was celebrated in 2009 with a special symposium ‘Between the Past and the Future’, which brought together past employees of and contributors to this important national project. Seventeen volumes of the dictionary and one supplementary volume have been published under the Melbourne University Press imprint, with Volume 18 (covering people who died between 1981 and 1990, surnames beginning L to Z) due to appear in 2012. The editorial unit that produces the ADB has been led by General Editor Professor Melanie Nolan since 2008. In that year, the National Centre of Biography (NCB) was established at the Australian National University to extend the work of the ADB and to serve as a focus for the study of life writing in Australia, supporting the highest standards in the field, nationally and internationally.

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Cultural Studies, Digital Scholarship, Historical Studies

Gallipoli Online

07.12.10 | Permalink | Comments Off on Gallipoli Online

At the heart of the national narrative in Australia is the potent and enduring story of the Australian and New Zealand soldiers—the ANZACs—who fought at Gallipoli, in Turkey, in the First World War, against impossible odds. It is a story that has taken on legendary significance. Each year, on the anniversary of the catastrophic Gallipoli conflict of 25 April 1915, there is a national holiday and Australians in ever-increasing numbers attend Anzac dawn services—conducted at memorials across the nation—to honour the dead of this and later wars. The role of the Gallipoli: The First Day website is not only to repeat and reinforce the Anzac message and make it more accessible, but also to offer a new assemblage of information utilising the 3D visual power of the digital environment.

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Communication and Media Studies, Cultural Studies, Digital Scholarship, Historical Studies, Life Writing

Life Sentences

08.11.10 | Permalink | Comments Off on Life Sentences

Hung parliaments at the Federal level in Australia are very unusual. The first such political stalemate since 1910 occurred at the onset of World War II. The Federal election of 21 September 1940 was held 70 years prior to the 2010 ballot that ultimately confirmed Julia Gillard as prime minister of a minority Labor government. The Australian Dictionary of Biography tells the story of the 1940 election that led to Robert Menzies being returned as Prime Minister of a minority coalition government—followed by its downfall the next year—through the lives and careers of the key political players. These included Prime Ministers Joseph Lyons, Robert Menzies, Arthur Fadden and John Curtin, along with the two conservative Victorian Independents, Arthur Coles and Alexander Wilson, who held the balance of power in the House of Representatives.

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