School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Theses

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    In Black and White: The rise, fall and on-going consequences of a racial slur in Australian newspapers
    Farley, Simon ( 2019)
    In Australia, racism cannot be extricated from settler expropriation of indigenous labour. In this thesis, I trace this entanglement through the lens of a single word – ‘nigger’ – as it has appeared in Australian print media in reference to Aboriginal people and Papuans, from when the term gained currency in the 1860s until its dwindling nearly a century later. I argue that increasing use of ‘nigger’ represented a shift in the way settlers perceived these peoples. Settlers began to conceive of indigenous peoples less as primitive savages or land-occupying natives and more as an exploitable source of cheap labour. This occurred as part of a global process, as Europeans and especially Neo-Europeans consolidated and invested in a dichotomous discourse of race, increasingly figuring themselves as ‘white’ and those whose bodies and labour they exploited as ‘black’. While the use of the slur itself rose and fell, the hierarchical racial schemata of which it was the herald are yet to be dismantled.
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    Through Fire and Flood: Migrant Memories of Displacement and Belonging in Australia
    Evans, Gretel Frances Rose ( 2019)
    Natural disasters are a significant feature of the Australian environment. In a country with a rich history of immigration, it is therefore surprising that historians have not yet examined the specific challenges faced by immigrants within this hazardous environment. This thesis examines migrants’ memories and experiences of bushfires and floods in Australia. Drawing on oral history interviews and regional case studies, this thesis explores the entanglement of migration and natural disaster in Australia and in the lives of migrants. Oral history interviews with migrants who have experienced bushfires in Victoria or floods in Maitland, New South Wales, are at the heart of this study. This thesis contributes to scholarship in three distinct fields—migration and environmental history, and disaster studies—and brings them together through an examination of migrants’ memories of bushfires and floods in Australia. Although traumatic experiences, displacement, and a changed and challenged sense of home, community and attachment to place and environment are common themes of both migrants and survivors of fire and flood, rarely have the similarities between these experiences been noted. This thesis is not a history of natural disasters in Australia, nor a retelling of a history of immigration to Australia, but an exploration of experiences of ‘double displacement’. This thesis argues that migrants’ recollections reveal how their burgeoning sense of home, community and attachment to place and environment was challenged by natural disasters. It highlights how their experience of ‘double displacement’ contributed to a new sense of home and belonging in a natural disaster-prone country.
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    Prime Ministers: gender and power in Australian political history, 1902-1975
    Phillips- Peddlesden, Bethany Anne ( 2019)
    This thesis offers an historical examination of the relationship between gender, political authority and prime ministers in Australia from Federation to 1975. By analysing contestations of political legitimacy through embodied styles of manhood and the languages of gender, I aim to expand our understanding of national leadership and the changing or enduring connotations of political masculinities and femininities. Situating male leaders within historical debates about gender relations, class, race, citizenship and women’s political mobilisations allows us to recognise male political experience as historically constituted. Applying feminist analysis, gender theory and masculinities studies, this thesis explores how gender has marked the boundaries of the political in both political culture and history writing. Four central research questions run throughout the thesis: How have Australian prime ministers’ experiences and identifications as men shaped their sense of self, leadership, and relationships with others? What does paying attention to gender change about our understanding of national political processes, gender politics and the exercise of leadership? What political roles have prime ministers’ wives played and how have women’s attempts to enter parliament challenged or reinscribed gender relations in political institutions? How has the permeability of the public/private divide been used by men in Australian politics? To answer these questions, I employ gender as an historical category of analysis to examine the social and institutional mechanisms, discourses, and historical operations of power that have underpinned male domination of Australian federal politics. The study begins in 1902 when Australia became one of the first countries in the world to grant white women the right to vote and stand for federal elections, a potentially transformative moment for Australian gender relations. It finishes in 1975 after another moment of challenge with the end of the modernising Labor government. Broadly chronological and biographical in structure, the thesis is comprised of case studies of six key prime ministers who held office over this period: Alfred Deakin, William Hughes, Joseph Lyons, John Curtin, Robert Menzies, and Gough Whitlam. Through the use of primary sources and existing political historiography, the case studies reveal how manhood has been used as a cipher in shaping and remembering Australia’s political past. This thesis argues that politicians have performed their gender identities as part of contesting political legitimacy, making manhood a key tool for men’s negotiation of political relationships. Furthermore, the prime ministership both rested on and entrenched the sexual division of labour in Australian politics. From the mid-nineteenth century, white men drew on an increasing range of styles and discourses of political manhood to claim political authority. Such flexibility, within established bounds, upheld a naturalised link between men and power. Tracing the contested move from Victorian ideals of manliness to modern styles of political masculinities in Australian history reveals the uneven shift in gendered meanings and languages of political manhood and political femininity.
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    Creating space to listen: museums, participation and intercultural dialogue
    Henry, David Owen ( 2018)
    This thesis examines the emergence, practice, and social meaning of intercultural dialogue as participatory programming in museums. While intercultural dialogue takes many forms in museums, the thesis focuses on projects that invite participants to create digital content in response to one another on topics related to identity, cultural diversity, and racism. The thesis presents a central case study of a contemporary anti-racist museum project – ‘Talking Difference’ – produced by the Immigration Museum in Melbourne, which facilitated, documented, and presented dialogue between participants. It draws on the personal experience of the author as a previous staff member on Talking Difference, as well as written and visual documentation, interviews with project staff, and analysis of content produced. Engaging with the field of museum studies, the thesis argues that dialogue projects like Talking Difference have come to prominence as museums adapt their traditional governmental role to contemporary societies where engagement with institutions is characterised by reflexivity and participation. Given this, the thesis argues that participatory programs should challenge the idea that museums can provide neutral forums for dialogue. Instead, dialogic museum practice may be more transformative if museums embrace their role of promoting social justice as third parties in the dialogue they facilitate. This entails not only encouraging participants to produce affecting personal accounts but also facilitating engagement with the complex social and historical contexts within which these accounts emerge. To this end, museums should prioritise listening, and facilitate the negotiation of conflicting perspectives in addition to providing platforms for their co-presentation. In acknowledgement of the field of practices within which such work takes place, the thesis argues that these interventions should be part of a broader suite of efforts to decolonise museum practice.
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    They came to heal: Australia’s medical immigrants, 1960 to the present
    Yeomans, Neville ( 2018)
    This thesis examines the patterns of migration of international medical graduates (IMG) since 1960 and the processes used to decide who would be licensed to practice. It draws on several historiographical genres. Quantitative methods were used extensively to ascertain trends for which explanations based on political and social history could be sought. Complementing this larger picture, a collection of oral histories explores the social causes and consequences of migration, and the actualities of Australia’s licensing processes as experienced by individual immigrants The thesis fills a gap in historical research on the subject by compiling and analysing information previously reported only incompletely and in cross-sectional fashion during this period, juxtaposing it with examples that reveal the human impact of fluctuating official policies during this time. It will argue that Australia has unresolved problems when it comes to balancing the desire of immigrant doctors to practise in their new country with the expectations of the population for equitably distributed and high-quality health care.
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    Nostalgia and the warzone home: American and Australian veterans return to Việt Nam, 1981-2016
    Martin Hobbs, Mia Alexandra ( 2018)
    From 1981 to 2016, thousands of Australian and American veterans returned to Việt Nam. In this comparative oral history investigation, I examine why veterans returned and how they reacted to the people and places of Việt Nam—their former enemies, allies, and battlefields—as the war receded further into history and memory. Tracing veterans’ returns through economic, cultural, and political shifts in Việt Nam, Australia, and the US, I identify three distinct periods of return: contact, normalization, and commemoration. These periods reflect the changing meanings of “Vietnam” in Australia and the US and describe the relationship of veterans to the contemporary, peacetime space of Việt Nam. Very different narratives about the war informed Australian and American returns: Australians followed an Anzac tradition of battlefield pilgrimage, whereas for Americans the return constituted a radical, anti-war act. Despite these differences in timing and nationality of return, commonalities emerged among them: veterans returned out of nostalgia for a warzone home, responding to the “needs of the present” by turning back toward “Vietnam.” When veterans arrived in Việt Nam, they found that their warzone home was unrecognizable, replaced with unfamiliar places, politics, and people. Returnees faced conflicting challenges and rewards. Many reported that seeing Việt Nam at peace diluted their memories of war, and brought them a measure of relief. Yet this peacetime reality also disrupted their wartime connection to Vietnamese spaces. Returnees navigated this challenge by drawing from the same wartime narratives that had informed their returns. Consequently, anti-war and Anzac memories shaped how returnees interpreted and interacted with peacetime Việt Nam as returnees recaptured their sense of belonging to the warzone home by relying on familiar stories about a suddenly unfamiliar place. Thus while the return experiences challenged returnees’ wartime memories, the return did not change their views so much as reinforce existing perspectives. Furthermore, while returning to Việt Nam helped many veterans to put “Vietnam” behind them, there was not total separation between war and country. As the numbers of returnees rose and expatriate-veteran enclaves emerged, the wartime narratives through which veterans navigated the return took on greater impact, collapsing time through space through nostalgic practices to relocate the warzone home.
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    'That great country to which we must constantly look': Australia and the United States in the development of Australian Federation
    Fitzgerald, Emily Jane ( 2018)
    This thesis is a transnational study of the development of Australian federation from 1890 to 1901. It provides a detailed analysis of the influences of and use of the United States in the debates in the Australian federation conventions, notably the Australasian Federation Conference, 1890, National Australasian Convention, 1891, and the Australasian Federation Convention in three sessions over 1897 and 1898. The use of the United States as a constitutional model for the framers of the Australian Constitution is widely acknowledged in histories of federation and in Australian-American studies. However, the manner in which the American example was used (particularly in debates on topics outside the questions of how to structure a federal parliament) and the attitudes expressed towards the United States at the federation conventions has not previously been explored in depth. The thesis looks broadly at the influences on and responses to the United States in this decade, including Australian responses to the Spanish-American War, and specifically at how the example of the United States was used during the convention debates. I argue that there was a strong level of interest in and awareness of the United States when developing the Australian Constitution, with federalists looking beyond the United States Constitution to consider American experience and history. In addition, this thesis explores the response to Australian federation in the United States. Using newspaper records from across the United States, it demonstrates the extent of American interest in the development of Australian federation, which was greater than previously realised, and the manner in which this was discussed. This thesis thus contributes to and links the body of work on the cultural and intellectual connections and influences between Australia and the United States, and the body of work on the history of federation in Australia.
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    Sport and the Australian war effort during the First World War: concord and conflict
    Fowler, Xavier ( 2018)
    This thesis investigates sport and its relationship with the Australian war effort between 1914 and 1918. As a significant cultural element within Australian society since the settlement of European colonists, many envisioned sport as holding a higher purpose outside mere leisure or entertainment. With concerns surrounding national security emerging from 1900 onward, ideas surrounding the playing of sport as a preparation for warfare became common. The outbreak of war in 1914 oversaw the variable explosion of this connection between playing and battlefields. Through propaganda, recruitment, fund-rising, sporting competitions, education and gender relations, patriots sought to hone sports influence in order to aid in the defence of Empire. Australia therefore celebrated sport, for it encouraged its citizens to ‘Play the Greater Game!’ Yet sport possessed the ability to divide with as great a strength as it did to unite, becoming embroiled in the social turmoil that engulfed the nation after 1915. Bitter public debates surrounding the appropriateness of games and the eventual government intervention against sport in 1917 speak to this conflict. Even more than this, violent altercations between recruiters and war-weary crowds and the suspension of increasingly violent school games indicate the dangerous levels with which sport was fuelling social discord. With this division in mind, the nation also began to reconsider for the first time the place and role of sport in its society. When viewing these paralleling developments, we can decipher that sport had an altogether paradoxical and complicated relationship with Australia’s war. The purpose of this thesis, therefore, is to remind audiences that, in spite of what several contemporary governments and sporting codes tell us, the celebrated place of sport in our memory of the war is one to be questioned. By doing so, we can hopefully re-evaluate the manner in which we remember the Great War itself, not exclusively as a nation-making exercise, but perhaps as something far more complex.
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    Visual communications of Australian identity
    Lane, Andrew ( 2016)
    This project explores the role visual communication plays in defining the concept of the Australian nation. The project explores a number of key themes and events around which the topic of Australian national identity adheres. Visual artefacts associated with these themes and events have been investigated for their role in shaping understandings of Australian nationhood and for evidence of values and attitudes expressed in other media. This project relates to the fields of design history, branding and Australian studies. Although the research centers on Australia the issues examined will be applicable to the consideration of branding and communication that includes elements of national identity in any national setting.
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    Morality of politicians in a democracy
    McArdle, Clare ( 2008)
    This thesis argues that one way of understanding the morality of politicians is from the perspective of their role morality, which is derived from their representative role in a democracy. The thesis argues that politicians' role morality is to advocate for their constituents in a way that upholds democratic values and the institutional arrangements required to give effect to democratic values. The thesis sets out the values underlying a democracy and argues that the traditional view of the nature of representation, as either a delegate and/or a trustee, does not provide an adequate understanding of the role of the representative. The delegate and/or trustee model assumes some form of `contactual' arrangement between representative and citizen whereas representation in a democracy is more like an ongoing relationship where citizens continue to exercise their sovereignty through an active interrelationship with their representatives. This way of viewing the role of the democratic representative places a greater responsibility on the political representatives to see their role as facilitating citizens' self government through an open, deliberative process in the Parliament. It is difficult to determine how well politicians uphold democratic values because of the competitive views as to how democratic values ought to be translated into institutional form. In order to see how well politicians are fulfilling their role morality of upholding democratic values, some other sort of criteria are required which may help in making such assessments and which do not rely on partisan views. Two sets of criteria are developed - one set is derived from the deliberative nature of representation and the other set is embedded in the idea of institutional accountability. These sets of criteria are applied in three different stories in order to assess the action of politicians but also to point to areas for practical reform which may support politicians to fulfil their role morality.