School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Theses

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    The Language of Archaeological Investigations
    Carnovale, Martin ( 2022-08)
    The thesis explores whether methods based upon analogical reasoning can be used to interpret culture if there are difficulties of translating other culture’s beliefs. The kind of cultural interpretation that I will discuss is that which pertains to social, artistic and religious activities. The thesis also explores the differences between quantitative and qualitative forms of reasoning, as well as inductive an deductive approaches, and how these are used in certain forms of archaeological interpretation. It is shown that scientific analyses of culture can make errors of translation, and it is also shown that humanistic and qualitative analyses of culture make many errors of reasoning that may be usually put forth against scientistic analyses of culture. How much biology and culture influence statistical trends is also discussed, and it is argued that trends may give support to certain forms of analogical reasoning that an archaeologist might use for the interpretation of culture. I also critique the idea of biological universals as being meaningful for cultural analysis. It is also argued that cognitive and biological factors exist below the level of cultural and religious activities; hence, a biological basis for statistical trends might not give much content to certain forms of comparative cross-cultural analysis. Thus, one might defend a qualitative approach to interpretation, but I argue that qualitative approaches make errors that can be paradoxically regarded as scientistic. The relevance of philosophical and linguistic theories by Kant, Kripke and Carnap is defended for archaeological research to explore interpretative errors in both quantitative and qualitative reasoning. The thesis argues against the dualism between the qualitative and quantitative, and attempts to argue for a pluralist methodology where positivism and relativism may be unified.
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    Preserving plastics in paper-based collections
    Chu, Cancy King-Cyn ( 2022-10)
    Plastics, referring to semi- or fully-synthetic mouldable polymeric materials, are now found in a wide range of cultural heritage materials. Ongoing research focused on plastics in museum collections show that the chemical stability of certain plastics are short-lived. These unstable plastics may additionally produce acidic products during deterioration, causing damage to neighbouring collections. Existing case studies of the rapid degradation of plastic materials associated with book and paper collections suggest the need for conservation attention to manage deterioration in libraries and archives. However, the types and condition of plastics in paper-based collections are not documented. Additionally, there are currently no targeted preservation strategies available. This dissertation aims to gain an understanding of plastics in paper-based collections in order to make informed preservation recommendations. Interdisciplinary methods were employed in a four-stage progressive investigation: 1. Firstly, a literature review of relevant preservation practices situates the research within the plastics conservation field. A classification of plastics in paper-based collections is proposed. Existing preservation methods addressing each material subtype are summarised, revealing a gap in the literature on plastics associated with paper materials: bindings, organisers and protectors. 2. Next, an industry survey of professionals working in Australian archives was used to assess the need for preservation strategies. Results show that plastics are pervasive in Australian archives, found in at least 90% of responding institutions. Furthermore, plastics associated with paper in archives are reported in poor condition by more than half of respondents. Respondents rated highly the need for storage strategies and standardised guidelines, supporting a need for preservation solutions. 3. To understand plastics in paper-based collections, the object types, condition, and preservation strategies were determined though collection surveys of post-1950s paper-based collections at the South Australian Museum Archive in Adelaide, the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, and the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation in Melbourne. Using ATR-FTIR, 11 common polymers were identified, and ten binding structures were described. Observed deterioration was classified under four contributing causes. Based on observations, preservation recommendations were proposed addressing each of the four deterioration categories. 4. Lastly, a proposed storage strategy for plasticised poly(vinyl chloride) book covers was tested using artificial ageing. Three common sheet materials used in paper conservation were compared as possible interleaving materials. Although interleaving was observed to benefit the reduction of ink offset, other types of damage were accelerated by all three materials. This stage demonstrates the specific testing needs of a composite material combination. Findings contribute to a deeper understanding of effective preservation approaches for plastics in paper-based collections. Overall, results show the need for storage guidelines, specific testing of composite materials, and interdisciplinary collaboration to improve preservation approaches. This thesis is centred on practical industry outcomes and is amongst the first to specifically consider the overlap between plastics conservation and paper-based collections. Knowledge gaps addressed include material types, deterioration patterns, and suitable preservation methods. Although the thesis is focused on Australian collections, resulting recommendations are broadly relevant to paper-based collections, benefiting the preservation of information and culture for present and future generations.
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    Order and the reason to be conservative
    Bushnell, Andrew Ian ( 2022-11)
    In this thesis, I make a case for the reasonableness of conservatism and its application to the political philosophical project of identifying the kinds of institutions that beings like us should have. The recent political philosophical literature on conservatism, largely under the influence of Michael Oakeshott, has focused on potential justifications for status quo bias, holding that conservatism is a commitment to conserving the value that individuals find in existing institutions and practices. But, I claim, because individuals and their practices may conflict, they are apt to value institutions differently, and so status quo bias cannot amount to a universalizable reason to be conservative. Having established this, I go on to argue that, inspired by a careful reading of Edmund Burke, conservatism is better understood as a commitment to realising a distinctively conservative value, order, and that this has various implications for political philosophy. On this view, institutions (in the broadest sense, from our systems of law and politics to our customs and concepts) capture the historical experience of society, the accuracy to reality of which is, I claim (on a reading of Ludwig Wittgenstein) apprehensible by common sense, at least under certain conditions of order. Thus, order is conservative (of historical experience), and conservatism is a commitment to realising order. Normatively, then, I further claim that conservatism is universally motivated, because order is a basic good for beings like us. Access to historical experience is valuable both intrinsically, because as naturally social beings we rely on institutions to capture and convey accurate information about the world and society in which we live, and instrumentally, in that this information is useful for any projects we might conceive as individuals and collectively. In the final chapter, I apply this idea of conservatism to various issues in political philosophy. My aim is not to directly rebut objections to conservatism or the desirability of order, but rather to show that distinctively conservative positions on these issues follow from the theory I have developed. Identifying conservatism’s substantive commitment to order both clarifies our understanding of conservatism and brings to the surface a value claim that is often overlooked in political philosophy.
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    “Romantic, idealistic, fiercely partisan”: emotion and the Communist Party of Australia, 1920-1945
    Sellers, Tonia Louise ( 2022)
    This thesis questions and explores the role of emotion in the Communist Party of Australia (CPA), 1920-1945. During this time, the CPA grew from a small fringe group to the dominant force in Australia’s Far-Left, and members’ lived experiences of Party life varied widely. Through the use of oral history interviews, autobiographies, and CPA publications, this research seeks to understand how Party authorities wanted members to experience emotions, and how they hoped these emotions would manifest in individuals’ behaviour. It demonstrates ways that individual members responded to these expectations, and aims to show how communists managed and expressed their feelings in this environment.
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    Nineteenth-Century Arcades in Australia: History, Heritage & Representation
    Davis, Nicole Jacqueline ( 2022)
    This thesis explores the social and spatial histories of Australia’s nineteenth-century arcades from their beginning in Melbourne in 1853, with an emphasis on their first half century of development. It explores the retail, leisure and business activities they hosted and the lived experiences of the people who worked and played in these spaces. The thesis explores their current place in the Australian urban imagination and how the historic representation of the arcades shapes our present-day understanding and perceptions of these buildings. The thesis examines how the arcade form was idealised in print and visual culture to represent particular notions of civilisation, progress, modernity, and cosmopolitanism in Australia during the second half of the nineteenth-century. Undertaking close analysis of a wide range of sources, it works to challenge and disrupt nostalgic perspectives that developed during this period and that continue to influence our perception in the present day. It argues that the histories of the arcades in Australia (as elsewhere) are far more nuanced than has previously been understood. Rather than rarefied sites of leisure and pleasure for the middle classes, they were sites where Australians from all walks of life played, worked and experienced the diversity of urban life and what urban life had to offer. The thesis aims to break down dichotomies of metropole and periphery that often characterise Australian urban spaces in juxtaposition to the metropoles of Britain, Europe or North America. To do this, it locates the Australian arcades within a transnational context, seeing them as nodes within global networks of exchange: of ideas, people, and things. Further, it explores the arcades not only of the coastal capitals but also considers those constructed in regional areas with a view to broadening our understanding of what it meant to be urban in this period in Australia.
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    ‘Women Through the Years’: Oral History, Identity and 'Little Singapore Stories'
    McCormack, Allegra ( 2022)
    In the decades following Singapore’s 1965 independence, the ubiquitous ‘Singapore Story’ was developed as a common history of national identity to be shared by Singapore’s diverse inhabitants. Introduced into the national curriculum in 1997, the Singapore Story created an orthodox depiction of the nation’s past that prioritised political and military events and emphasised male experiences and contributions. Running parallel to its development were alternate histories that problematised this dominant narrative and emphasised people’s history. As some historians have criticised, however, these people’s histories frequently explored Singapore’s ethnic groups in isolation. This thesis considers how a collective existence of pre-1965 Singaporeans might be constructed, disrupted and retrospectively recalled. It primarily engages with the oral testimony of women recorded within the Oral History Centre’s project ‘Women through the Years: economic and family lives.’ The interviewees were born between 1897 and 1937 and interviewed between the 1980s and the early 2000s. This collection of so-called “little Singapore stories” demonstrates how class, race, language and religion could intersect within colonial spaces and create fluid and multifaceted identities as expressed by the interviewees. This thesis explores the construction of Singaporean identity from two temporal perspectives: the colonial Singapore in which the interview’s events took place and the post-independence Singapore in which the interviews were conducted. It argues the ‘Women through the Years’ collection indicates how memory is continually reconstructed and inflected with new meaning to legitimise current perspectives and identity.
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    The Settlement and Mortuary Assemblages from the Earliest Levels at Tell Fara South
    Phillips, Paula ( 2022)
    The southern Levant, particularly its south-western edge along the Wadi Ghazzeh, has long attracted archaeological interest for the role the region played during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages. Dedicated excavations over the past hundred years have sought to answer questions about what motivated settlement in and around the string of tell sites that line the Ghazzeh, the cultural, economic and political circumstances that governed their interaction, and the relationships they shared with neighbouring regions. Tell Fara South (hereafter Fara South), was excavated by the British School of Archaeology under the direction of Flinders Petrie and James Starkey between 1927-1931 but the valuable corpus of material related to the Middle into early Late Bronze settlement was only partly published. As a result, the site has often been omitted from discussions on the key activities and events of the MB-LB periods, leaving an arguably critical piece of the puzzle that is the southern Levant at this time, missing for almost a century. The aim of this project is to rectify this situation by re-examining the British School’s work at Fara South, and reconstructing the assemblages from the earliest settlement levels and associated cemeteries. The information derives from the two excavation reports, contemporary journal articles, Petrie’s autobiography and biography, the Corpus of Palestinian Pottery compiled from vessel types found at Tell Jemmeh and Fara South, supporting documentation and the finds themselves, approximately two thirds of which have been located in collections and re-examined. The architectural features and object assemblages have then been compared with other sites to re-assess the place Fara South occupied in the Middle-Late Bronze Age southern Levantine landscape. Key results from this re-examination include a better understanding of the stratigraphic links between the settlement and its four contemporary cemeteries, the nature of the settlement as an important fortress, and the very close relationship it shared with neighbouring Tell el-‘Ajjul. A broad occupational sequence commencing in the earlier part of the MB IIB period is suggested, initially displaying influences from the northern Levant, northern Cyprus and Egypt. A second phase in the later part of the MB IIB, is characterised by a renewed focus on monumental architecture and raised incidences of painted pottery, accompanied by an increasing Cypriot interest in the region. The third phase, dated to the Late Bronze Age, sees the settlement at Fara South continue through the LB I-II but without trace of the often, catastrophic destruction that beset other sites in the area during the MB-LB transition. The monumental six pier gate at Fara South signals a more significant role for the Wadi Ghazzeh settlements, and that it is in this context of strategic and economic importance that the area should be viewed. A network of long distance trade routes connected to sites along this ancient water course, likely extending from the Arabian Peninsula to the Aegean, provides one key element in the explanation for the establishment of settlements in the area, the wealth these sites (particularly Tell el-‘Ajjul) enjoyed during the MB IIB period, and the close relationships brokered with groups in the northern Levant, northern Cyprus and Egypt. Based on the comparative material, a relative sequence for settlement horizons within the region is suggested. This reconstruction lends weight to an early theory put forward by Flinders Petrie in the wake of the Fara South excavations that the beginning of the Hyksos Period and the MB IIB in the southern Levant were contemporary, and that much that followed had its cultural/historical origins in the later part of Egypt’s Dynasty 12 (c. 1830-1800 BCE). The re-assessment dispels previous assumptions that Fara South was of minor significance and instead, highlights this small site played an important role (along with Tell el-‘Ajjul), in this corner of the Eastern Mediterranean world during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages.
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    Working wood: the state, wood science and industry: Australia, 1918–1949
    Dadswell, Gordon Alexander ( 2021)
    This study identified the role of three national forest products laboratories and their relationship with other government agencies and specifically, to the Australian timber industry. The laboratories were established with several objectives, including to reduce the importation of timber, develop industry strategies for the use of Australian timbers, identify the properties of Australian woods and minimise problems for the timber industry. A further aim was to implement ‘national efficiency’ (discussed below). The work of the laboratories was based on a common theme: to encourage industries to understand that by using Australian timber, they would help both the nation and their businesses. A major objective of this thesis is to address the ‘doing’ of science in laboratories in conjunction with industry and government Archives from Australia and the United Kingdom were used. Not all of the archives had been opened which suggested that the thesis filled a gap in the history of the Australian wood science. Libraries were also used in Australia and the United Kingdom. A further methodology identified a ‘Triple helix’ between research, industry and government, which focused on collaboration between three organisations whose goals were to conduct research, to develop research outcomes and increase National efficiency. Archival material exposed the frequency of communications between the laboratories and the secondary timber industry. Six stories provided a broad perspective of the research conducted by the laboratories. Time frames of each chapters partially overlapped. The subjects connected across time, and provided depth to the thesis. Using the helix as the framework, the relationship between the laboratories, industry and the national science organisations was identified as collaboration, conflict, innovation, knowledge transfer and networking.
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    Building a conservation material record: a study of paintings by Cheong Soo Pieng and Georgette Chen
    Tay, Ann Ann Diana ( 2022)
    Despite the growing visibility of prominent figures in modern Singaporean art history, there is limited material knowledge of the art practices of paintings from Nanyang artists such as Georgette Chen (1906–1993) and Cheong Soo Pieng (1917–1983). Scholarly interest in Singaporean artist materials and techniques has focused attention on the study of easel paintings through art historical and technical art history methodologies. There are art material and conservation records, but to compare these studies, the consistency and structure of the data collection make it challenging. In response, this thesis re-assesses the development of accessible documentation methods for studying paintings by considering the type of data to be collected, the structure of the record, and whether it is possible to produce quality insights without solely relying on advanced material analysis. Employing a standard technical art history methodology, a total of 67 artworks from Cheong Soo Pieng and Georgette Chen, dated from the 1940s to the 1980s, were examined through a combination of historical and archival sources, visual examination, technical photography, and advanced material analysis. To extend the data and produce quality insights, a robust documentation record was produced where observations were recorded outlining 110 defining properties of each painting, resulting in verifiable data points to be analysed. Differences in access to paintings and availability of archival sources affected the methodologies that could be used to gain insights. This meant that although only eight Georgette Chen paintings were studied, but nevertheless, solid correlations and consistency in canvas preparation and painting techniques were still uncovered. In a more extensive study of 59 Cheong Soo Pieng artworks, where samples were removed and analysed, the data produced improved the depth and quality of the artist’s record. In addition, the data structure of the documentation record enabled datasets to be extracted and visualised through visual graphics to uncover patterns of each artist’s art practice. The datasets from Cheong Soo Pieng provided depth to undertake unsupervised machine learning with Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and k-means to uncover relationships from data generated from non-invasive techniques and results from the material analysis. This clustered data on Cheong Soo Pieng’s practice into four clusters, and its characteristics were examined using an interactive Microsoft Power BI dashboard. The methodologies proposed in this study aim to build a material record of Singaporean artists that can accommodate future datasets to build onto. Using the large amounts of text and image-based data produced by this study, machine learning algorithms, including deep learning models, were explored to discover possible future uses to improve efficiencies between text and technical image diagnostics. In light of such a data rich field, the presented methodologies showcase how knowledge discovery can be accessed by employing data science methods that produce evidential, verifiable and quality data through data structure. In doing so, a better understanding of Cheong Soo Pieng and Georgette Chen’s practice is produced, contributing to the development of a robust material record and our knowledge about paintings in Singapore and potentially the wider Southeast Asian region.
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    A History of Australia's Immigrant Doctors, 1838-2021: Colonial Beginnings, Contemporary Challenges
    Yeomans, Neville David ( 2022)
    Since colonisation in 1788, Australia has been populated by immigrants. Among them, for all this period, there have been practitioners of Western medicine who qualified overseas. This thesis is about them, now termed International Medical Graduates (IMGs). Starting in 1838, when the first colonial medical Acts were promulgated, it explores who those graduates were, from where they came, why they migrated at specific times in response to geopolitical and other events, how were they received and what were their experiences. Their history is integral to the history of medical practice and medical politics in Australia. It has not previously been examined across the longue durée researched here; the purpose has been to better understand the evolving and continuous process of medical immigration, rather than the fragments that constitute the current historiography. The methodology is quantitative and qualitative. First, a prosopography was constructed comprising all IMGs registered in each colony, state, and territory from 1838 to 1984, supplemented by data from a random sample of contemporary IMGs to bridge to the present. From this, the time course, profile of donor countries, and characteristics of successive waves of IMGs has been documented, then linked to causal historical events, including the changing and frequently obstructive medical legislation. Throughout the colonial period and the first half of the twentieth century, nearly all immigrant doctors had trained in Great Britain and Ireland, often motivated by difficulties establishing practice at home and attracted by opportunities in a new land, but with source countries restricted by the Medical Acts. Then, as Australia opened to migrants from the rest of the world in the second half of the twentieth century, so the spectrum of IMGs expanded immensely—approximately, but not completely matching that of the immigrant populations overall. Currently, about 30 percent of the Australian medical workforce was born and trained overseas. A second aim was to understand and learn from the experiences of living IMGs. For this, 87 oral histories were recorded—using criterion-referenced, random, and snowball sampling. Many were negotiating the pathways to medical registration, under the now national regulator, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). The thesis gives them a voice, and illustrates their difficulties and crises—sometimes at the hands of what seems to have been a Kafkaesque bureaucracy. The other pathway for some has been to persuade a specialist college that their overseas qualification is comparable to that of the Australian college. Interviews with college and AHPRA representatives confirm the author’s impression that much has been done recently to improve the fairness of those processes; but the thesis also provides evidence in the oral histories of what appear to be historical and recent injustices. Australia owes much to its IMGs. The thesis allows us to learn from their history during almost two centuries. It concludes with recommendations for how we can still assure the paramount need to protect Australian patients, yet also improve the effectiveness and fairness of our current processes for registering and supporting those who received their medical training overseas.