School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Theses

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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.
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    Investigating KARIBARI, the drying boards and their materials used
    Song, Sandra ( 2020)
    The primary aim of this research project was to investigate the karibari board, its manufacturing process and the materials used, and to compare it to the other drying boards and alternatives, in order to summarise the use of drying boards for treatment application in conservation. The report investigated the karibari board manufacturing process, and the other potential alternatives, from different materials of interior layers and surface coatings, through a literature review to generate baseline data in order to provide a comparison with key practitioners and their research with the karibari board manufacturing process. Specialised and experienced conservators were surveyed, and the collected data analysed through the application of a quantitative approach method. Survey questions were developed to determine which drying board they usually use in conservation studios/labs and to assess the product satisfaction in relation to the use of drying boards. The author identified research questions and analysed the issues with investigating the physical and chemical backgrounds of the drying method, and the materials used in the manufacturing process. The selection of materials would be influenced by their working performance and physical properties - drying tension on paper and board - when the karibari board is used as a method of conservation treatment. The surface coating which is applied on the board is also a critical factor that would affect the working properties.
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    Sign of the Sun: Determining the Original Binding for the Grammar Book Whitintoni Editio cum interpretamento Francisci Nigri Diomedes de Accentu, Written by Robert Whittington (c. 1480-1553) and Printed by Wynkyn de Worde (ca.-1534) 1519
    Ranisau, Amalia ( 2020)
    The book of grammar being examined in this research is a rare example of post-incunabula printing by Wynkyn de Worde, an early publisher and printer, who popularised the printed word throughout England in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Using a multi-disciplinary approach this research is informed by a thorough examination of the book itself, comparison with contemporaneous bindings by the same printer and knowledge of the use of similar grammar books at the time. Being inadequately rebound in the 18th century, wrongly collated and in need of repair when it entered the Rare Book Collection of the State Library of South Australia in late 1980s, the book was disbound in order to correct the collation. This allowed an opportunity to safely digitise the item and research the printed text to determine the original binding before performing the required conservation treatment. This investigation lead to discoveries regarding the book's provenance, the origin of the materials from which it was constructed and adds value to its significance in the history of book production. By the creation of models of different binding styles, this thesis adds a practical angle which will also inform the decision-making process, aiming to select the most appropriate conservation treatment and rebinding style.
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    Art in flux: stewarding Learning to Love You More along its life trajectory
    Mansfield, Lisa ( 2020)
    This thesis deep-dives into the complexities of conserving Learning to Love You More (2002-2009), using it as a case study to examine the long-term preservation challenges for work built in and living on an ever-changing technological network. Acquired by SFMOMA in 2010, Learning to Love You More (2002-2009), can be considered one of the first transnational, multimodal communication platforms, making it a significant touchstone in both net art and social media histories. The participatory net art project connected people globally before the ubiquitous rise of social networking, Web 2.0 blogging, and video-sharing platforms. Its open-call for collaborators-artists and non-artists, project participants and strangers-saw it receive over 8,000 submissions (reports) in response to 70 creative assignments set by artists Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July. As an online archive, its audio-visual functionality is affected by technological obsolescence. A holistic approach to document the work's functionality and experience demonstrated that prescribed documentation tools are subject to the same technical obsolescence as the works they seek to capture. Net art's unique encoded properties allow conservation interventions to be truly reversible, in line with guiding ethical principles. Treatments can be enacted and redacted over time, with multiple strategies explored simultaneously. Consolidating current conservation discourse that acknowledges change as a positive act, Holling's assertion of temporal duration is also considered here as a more universal way of understanding the change treatment paradigm. Presenting a concurrent non-oppositional mode from which the field can address the challenges of both fast and slow changes as conservator's steward an artwork over part of its life trajectory.