School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Theses

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    Pressed for Time: A study of digital journalists' ethical and temporal conundrums
    James-Garrod, Caroline ( 2022)
    This thesis argues digital print journalists experience social and time ethics pressures due to constant responsibilities to stay connected to mobile work-related online communications. It claims this identifies a social phenomenon – cyber time poverty. It examines its research topic by studying original qualitative data collected from survey questionnaires and interviews of 288 working Australian digital print journalists between 2019 and 2020. It interprets its data using textual and discourse analyses and original concept lenses: its Social Time Ethics Framework (STEF) and its Journalism Applied Ethics Scaffold (JAES). Findings include almost all working digital print journalists (96.4%; n=243) who contributed to its survey are time poor and about 64.9% of respondents meet the definition of cyber time poverty (n=159). When work mobile-communications demands exceed available time, sufferers use various time-saving strategies, most commonly 'giving less time to others' including sources, peers and readers, family, friends, and self (69.8%; n=137). Running late is the next most common time-saving strategy, a tactic used by almost 62% of respondents (61.7%, n=121), while almost 50% block communications with potential or current sources, personal or work peers. Finally, when lacking sufficient time to do ethically good journalism, they are most likely to breach JAES applied ethics ideals by failing to give sources fair opportunity to reply, and/or avoiding or delaying correcting published errors. I conclude digital journalists do, often, suffer cyber time poverty in quests to be morally responsible public interest news reporters, making it typical that sufferers lack opportunity to do ethical journalism. With significant parts of society mistrusting journalists and online information in general, I propose these critical responses: the need to boost digital news literacy; reform online discourse; close the epistemic gap that harms all cyber time poverty sufferers; and prioritise pursuit of original journalism.
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    Labour Market Justice: Old and New Problems
    James, Alastair Gustav ( 2022)
    This thesis sets out to analyse normatively significant and in some cases under-theorised labour market phenomena to identify forms of injustice and provide philosophically defensible responses that take seriously the feasibility constraints governing policy proposals. Some chapters engage with longer-standing questions, such as exploitation theory, and workplace hierarchy. These chapters are concerned with enhancing our understanding of these concepts as they apply to contemporary labour markets. Other chapters explore labour market trends that have been less studied so far in philosophy, such as the gig economy, and the relationship between working remotely and discretionary time entitlements. These chapters provide insight into specific forms of unfairness and offer suitable policy mechanisms in response. Part I of the thesis examines some of the contemporary challenges of labour markets. Drawing from both classical and neoclassical approaches towards economics, it provides an overview of intuitive approaches towards labour market justice. Explored are well-known concepts like ‘a just wage’ and ‘exploitation’, which, for the purposes of analysing the subjects under examination in this thesis, are argued to be ill-suited. Separate to these findings, and in response to some of the initial motivations of this project, provided is a theory of exploitation specifically for labour markets. Engaging with recent philosophical literature on exploitation, it explains what makes labour market exploitation distinct from non-exploitation, and provides an account of why this makes labour market exploitation wrong. Part I of the thesis goes on to respond to intuitive worries about exploitation in the gig economy. It diagnoses cases of labour in the gig economy that resemble a rent trap, arguing that, to the extent that gig work does resemble a rent trap, it is unjust and warrants some kind of corrective policy-based mechanism, several of which are proposed. Part II of the thesis moves on to questions surrounding justice within firms. It begins by examining the compatibility of workplace hierarchy and relational equality. Comparing the respective merits and limitations of trust-based modes of organisation, democratically-owned and/or -run firms, as well as the hierarchical firm, it argues that it is preferable that both hierarchical and non-hierarchical governance structures exist. The project goes on to explore problems surrounding the necessary indeterminacy of the employment contract. To limit the extent to which contract indeterminacy subjects workers to the risk of workplace violations, it proposes two corrective policy mechanisms, an ex ante external mechanism, and an internal mechanism to dispose managers more sympathetically towards workers whose labour processes they supervise and oversee. Finally examined is an overlooked problem within the study of discretionary time. The thesis takes as a starting point the fact that there are discrepancies in workers’ discretionary time entitlements, arguing that these discrepancies arise due to the relationship between a worker’s labour and the specific capital they use to do their job. Provided are two contrasting ways to account for these discrepancies in the discretionary time entitlements of workers.
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    “More than an engineering project”: How the Melbourne Underground Rail Loop shaped a modern city
    Gigacz, Patrick Peter ( 2022)
    From 1970 to 1983, the Melbourne Underground Rail Loop Authority (MURLA) oversaw the construction of three central city underground stations linked to Melbourne’s nineteenth-century suburban railway network. Melbourne’s City Loop was built in a global moment where the modernising potential of underground railway systems was promoted as a response to the challenges of economic instability and renewal of inner urban fabrics. In the Australian context, it was a significant financial and cultural investment in public transport, in a city dominated physically and socially by the private motor car, and during a period of considerable uncertainty about the future of inner urban spaces. Literatures of urban infrastructure in this period have focused primarily on political, economic and institutional narratives, with limited reference to social and cultural histories of technology and urban environment. This thesis argues that the City Loop was the product of a dialectic between the cultural significations of urban change and the physical transformation of urban spaces. It draws on the records of MURLA and popular media sources to examine how the Loop became a locus for discourses of modernity, through its advertising campaigns, the experiences and impacts of worker deaths, and finally in the physical spaces it contributed to the city of Melbourne. These findings contribute to the broader fields of Australian and international urban history by demonstrating how urban infrastructure is both influenced by and influences cultures of city life. The findings offer further opportunities for research into the role of underground railway projects in shaping twentieth century cities.
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    The Collectanea Rerum Memorabilium by Gaius Julius Solinus: A Roman Geography for a Changing World
    Piccolo, Giovanni ( 2022)
    The Collectanea Rerum Memorabilium is a collection of wondrous facts from various areas of natural science presented within the geographical framework of a description of the known world. Little is known of its author Gaius Julius Solinus, possibly a grammaticus who lived between the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth century AD. Despite being today largely neglected within the field of Latin literature, the text played a significant role in the transmission of classical geographical and scientific knowledge to Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Since the publication of Theodor Mommsen’s critical edition of the text in the late 19th century, studies on Solinus’ work have largely focused on philological issues concerning the author’s sources and the authenticity of the second redaction of the text. Such approach stemmed from the general view that the text was a mere epitome of its main source, Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia, and has not offered a comprehensive assessment as to why and for whom the Collectanea was written. This thesis aims to fill this gap in the research and to answer the question of what the ultimate purpose of this text was. Specifically, the following aspects of the issue are investigated: the cultural, social, and historical reasons that prompted Solinus’ reorganisation of Pliny’s knowledge; the world view that emerges from the prominent space reserved to Rome within the text; and the role of mirabilia, and in particular animal paradoxography, in providing the author with the epistemological support to the world order that his text upholds. The methodology here adopted follows a text-based approach, by analysing those passages of the Collectanea in which Solinus’ tone, choice of words, and deviation from source material can be read as indicative of his authorial autonomy, and thus the reflection of a clear political project. This thesis concludes that a date of composition at the reign of Constantine I (or at least between the end of the third and the first few decades of the fourth century) is consistent with the author’s need to reaffirm the cultural primacy of the city of Rome, at a time in which it was losing its political relevance. It also suggests that the view of Nature that emerges from Solinus’ use of animal paradoxography (and mirabilia in general) is indicative of a ‘deterministic’ Weltanschauung, and is used as the moral justification of a providentially arranged world order with Rome at its centre. This thesis ultimately argues that Solinus’ Collectanea should be read independently from its sources, and that its importance lies in its being one of the most significant reflections of the cultural eclecticism of its time.
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    The Hummingbird’s Atlas: Mapping Guaraní Resistance in the Atlantic Rainforest during the Emergence of Capitalism (1500–1768)
    Stokes, James Cameron ( 2022)
    This thesis maps the resistance of Guarani peoples to colonisation in the Atlantic Rainforest of South America during the emergence of capitalism, from 1500 to 1768. As such, it addresses a gap in the existing literature, where the resistance of stateless Indigenous groups has not been sufficiently acknowledged in both environmental histories of the Atlantic Rainforest and global histories of capitalism. The dissertation’s research method draws on archival sources, alongside interviews with contemporary Guarani writers, to make maps and other infographics visualising and analysing this history. In the sixteenth century, Guarani resistance strategies impeded the creation of a silver route through the inland Atlantic Rainforest. The failure of the Spanish to overcome this decentralised resistance network contrasts with the rapid Spanish defeat of the nearby Inca Empire. Coupled with the subsequent Guarani struggle against the yerba mate commodity frontier in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, these actions obstructed capital accumulation in Paraguay, hindering local deforestation and ensuring the survival of autonomous Guarani populations. Simultaneously, in the coastal Atlantic Rainforest, appropriated Guarani labour played an important role in the restoration of Portugal’s Atlantic Empire and the opening of the Brazilian gold commodity frontier. The subsequent flow of gold from Brazil to England assisted the development of British capitalism in the eighteenth century. Consequently, the thesis argues that this appropriation of Guarani labour and knowledge should be acknowledged as a contributing factor in the global emergence of capitalism. But this process did not end with a complete victory for the forces of capitalist integration, with Guarani peoples continuing this political struggle to the present day, ensuring that the teko, the Guarani way of life, endures.
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    No Masters But Ourselves: Black Reconstruction in the Deep South City
    Watts, Samuel John ( 2022)
    The destruction of slavery brought about dramatic opportunities and challenges for formerly enslaved Black Southerners, many of whom migrated to Southern cities in search of safety and freedom following the Civil War. During Reconstruction, the Deep South city offered economic, social and political opportunities that rural life could not, and it was in the city that Black Southerners were able to assert themselves in public and private spaces. These assertions of Black power and Black identity varied from seemingly minor interactions on the sidewalk, in the workplace or at school, to street celebrations, protests, strikes and pitched battles. Through an examination of Black daily life and the constant threat of white violence during this period, this thesis demonstrates how Black Southerners asserted radical ideas of Black power and freedom in the city space. Despite the relative freedom that urban life offered, white racial violence and brutality remained a constant – making the achievements of Black men, women and children in this period all the more extraordinary. It is through these – often temporary – achievements, that one can see the radical potential of Black Reconstruction to revise the foundations and future of the American republic, to an extent that was not then and has not now been fully realized.
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    Investigating anoxic storage methods for the long-term preservation of a large, fragile work on paper by Winsome Jobling
    Yee, Sandra ( 2020)
    This thesis investigates the possible causes that may have led to the purported brittle state of a large and fragile paper artwork by Darwin based Papermaker Winsome Jobling. The artwork is a handmade banana (Musa sp.) fibre dress measuring 248.5 x113.5 x15.5cm. SEM-EDS and ATR-FTIR examination of the paper was undertaken to identify any existent degradative products. Research was also undertaken on the current and historic use of anoxic storage systems and the benefit of this form of storage to slow degradation and to ensure the long-term care of the artwork. Although the investigation found no measurable quantities of degradative products, the benefits of anoxic storage is considered and recommended for the long-term storage of this large fragile paper artwork. This thesis investigates the possible causes that may have led to the purported brittle state of a large and fragile paper artwork by Darwin based Papermaker Winsome Jobling. The artwork is a handmade banana (Musa sp.) fibre dress measuring 248.5 x113.5 x15.5cm. SEM-EDS and ATR-FTIR examination of the paper was undertaken to identify any existent degradative products. Research was also undertaken on the current and historic use of anoxic storage systems and the benefit of this form of storage to slow degradation and to ensure the long-term care of the artwork. Although the investigation found no measurable quantities of degradative products, the benefits of anoxic storage is considered and recommended for the long-term storage of this large fragile paper artwork.
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    The conservation of rock-art at gariwerd: a response to recreational impacts
    Welsh, Lucy ( 2020)
    The rock-art at Gariwerd (Grampians National Park) is the most significant in Victoria and presents over 90% of the state's known rock-art Places. Growing recreational use of the national park over the last 50 years has been threatening the safety of the rock-art, among other significant Aboriginal cultural places, with Traditional Owners concerned for the future of their valuable and irreplaceable cultural heritage. Recent closures of special protection areas throughout Gariwerd have allowed conservation professionals to take stock of the damage, and assess the level of work required to conserve and rehabilitate some of the significantly impacted rock-art locations throughout the National Park. While the rock-climbing community are concerned for the future of their recreational 'heritage', the future of Gariwerd rock-art grows increasingly uncertain. This thesis looks at the history of conservation at Gariwerd through the literature and ongoing use of practical conservation techniques to identify if and how conservation of the rock-art at Gariwerd can be achieved. This thesis discusses how ongoing closures to recreational activity may be the only solution to protect the significant cultural assets located throughout he Gariwerd landscape.
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    Climate change and cultural material conservation in Australia
    Thomev, Velika ( 2020)
    Inspired by a desire to create an overview of the situation of conservators and climate change in Australia, this thesis looks to understand conservators' responses to climate change in a general sense, and then summarize and explain adaptation methods that have begun to augment the risk of climate change to cultural heritage through a review and gaps analysis. This thesis will examine the threat of climate change and how it relates to the role of the modern conservator and the need to engage professionally with the risk to cultural collections. Climate change predictions and observed changes will be described in Australia to situate the discussion of risk, with risks for different types of cultural heritage. Responses to climate change will then be examined, with a focus on what has been done, internationally to situate the discussion before focusing on Australia, with individual, organizational as well as government responses and a discussion of potential theories as to why. A longer focus will be on a synopsis of the adaptation measures and strategies that have begun to be implemented by whom and how. Based on this research, it is concluded that although there have been numerous pushes and recognition on the potential risks of climate change, it has often been a minority of voices and has failed to gain significant traction as a standalone or urgent theme of risk. A continuation of research is recommended, especially into the threat posed to different types of collections in the Australian context to better plan and confidently implement any adaptation strategies that might be necessary, and to better understand if and what the tangible risks are.
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    The conservation of conservation: the excavation, preservation and restoration of conservation's past through historiographical analysis
    Walker, Isabella ( 2020)
    This thesis identifies a central contradiction in the ideological framework of the Western conservation profession: for a profession that is indeed founded on the value of history and the importance of the preservation of historical materials, it is ironic how little interest is given to conservation's own past by conservators themselves. In 1967, Belgian conservator Roger Marijnissen noted that the field of conservation history had "barely been explored"; 55 years since Marijnissen's declaration, there has been only limited development within English conservation history scholarship, and little in the way of historiographical critique (1967, p. 275). In light of the limitations of this field, this thesis thus poses - and answers - the questions: What value does conservation's own past have for the present and future of the profession? Should the history of conservation itself be conserved? This thesis responds to these questions first by situating its project in a broader theoretical landscape, giving particular focus to Hanna Holling's 2017 essay "The Technique of Conservation: On Realms of Theory and Cultures of Practice", which calls for a reassessment of conservation's historiography. It examines the current historiographical field, and demonstrates the brevity of this current field of scholarship. It demonstrates the implications of conservation's limited historiography via a close textual analysis of a case study - the work of an influential (yet relatively unknown) early practitioner - the German chemist-turned-'first conservator' Friedrich Rathgen. Through an analysis of his seminal text, The Conservation of Antiquities (1898), this thesis demonstrates that Rathgen's influence extends beyond his practical innovations in the field: his work also played a crucial role in the formation of the profession's ethical framework, implicit values and, indeed, its relationship to its past. In so doing, it posits that a devaluing of conservation's history prohibits an identification of the tacit values that lie underneath the profession's foundational principles. Ultimately, this thesis demonstrates that a greater awareness of the value that is to be found in the history of conservation - and a more thorough, diverse and critical historiographical scholarship - allows the profession to be self-reflexive as it evolves in the present and future, and to affirm its ongoing project of collaborative and interdisciplinary development.