School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Theses

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    Revisiting Anzac in the Wake of World War Two: Memory and Identity in the Post-War Period, 1945-1960
    Donohoe-Marques, Anton Tarrant ( 2021)
    This thesis explores how war remembrance—in the form of commemorative observance and the building of memorials—developed in Australia in the period that followed World War Two, from 1945 to 1960. It investigates three key questions. First, what was the nature of the interplay between post-World War Two memorialisation and commemoration and the remembrance traditions that had been established during World War One and the interwar period? Second, how was Australia’s post-World War Two remembrance shaped by the particular social, political, and economic circumstances of the period? And finally, what influence did the process and practice of post-World War Two remembrance have on changing conceptions of the Anzac legend and Australian national identity? In addressing these questions, this study contains five distinct case studies, each of which explores a different aspect of war remembrance between 1945 and 1960. These case studies examine the building of memorials, the efforts of veterans to enact remembrance projects, the observance of Anzac Day, the construction of cemeteries overseas, and interactions between Australian war remembrance and foreign diplomacy. In large part these case studies investigate the Australian state’s efforts to enact control over memorialisation and commemoration. However, the thesis also explores various responses to these projects, analysing how resistance from people outside of government, particularly from veterans of both world wars, was an integral part of how war remembrance in the period took shape. Between 1945 and 1960 there was significant change in the ways that Australians remembered war. During World War One and the interwar period, Australians commemorated the war by building around 1,500 memorials, erected in towns and cities across the country. It was also during World War One that Australians began to observe Anzac Day each year on 25 April. But with the advent of a second global conflict, a new range of perspectives, experiences, and memories were incorporated into this pre-existing culture of war remembrance. Forms of commemoration also reflected the shifting circumstances of Australian society. In the post-World War Two period, communities grew rapidly through migration, industrialisation, and economic expansion. It was also a time in which a new generation of veterans returned and reintegrated into society. Finally, Australia was forging a series of new international partnerships during this period. These social, political and economic changes influenced the way that Australians imagined themselves, their place in the world, and the meaning of the Anzac legend. Post-World War Two remembrance was therefore distinguished by an enthusiasm for utilitarian memorials, by the inclusion of new veterans into the fold of war remembrance, and diplomatically, by the representation of new international relationships with the United States and other Pacific nations through commemoration and memorialisation.
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    Contentious Routes: Ireland Questions, Radical Political Articulations and Settler Ambivalence in (White) Australia, c. 1909 - 1923
    Yan, Jimmy H. ( 2021)
    This thesis is a transnational history of the ‘Ireland Question' in the imperial and ethico-political imaginary of radical and labour movements in (‘White’) Australia during the ‘Irish revolutionary period’, broadly conceived. It traces the contestation of 'Ireland' as a political signifier, with attention to its constitutive differences, transnational circuitries, utopian investments, relations of recognition and desire, and articulatory practices. Where previous studies of Irish nationalisms in Australia have deployed 'the nation' as a consensualist category of analysis, this study reinterprets the ‘Ireland Question’ in postnational terms as contentious and within routes. Combining attention to settler-colonial difference with the discursive articulation of political forms, it situates the 'Ireland Question' firstly in relation to the political as a signifier of settler ambivalence, and secondly to politics as a social movement. Drawing on archival research in Australia, Ireland and Britain, it analyses personal papers, letters, political periodicals, state surveillance records, political ephemera and pamphlets. Beyond the 'Ireland Question' in the imperial labour movement, this study affords serious attention to historical dimensions at the hybrid boundaries of ‘long-distance nationalism’ including political travel performances in Ireland, non-nationalist transnational political networks ranging from feminist to socialist connections, and non-Irish political identification with 'Ireland.' It proposes that this unstable play of meanings comprised a heterogeneity of political positions and networks whose convergence during the conjuncture of 1916-1921 was both contingent and politically contested: one that signified in excess of either Australian nationalist historical teleologies or a coherent 'transnational Irish revolution.'
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    Memory and Cooperation: Genocide recognition efforts among Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians in twenty-first century Australia
    Kritikakos, Themistocles ( 2021)
    This thesis examines a unique period in the early twenty-first century when Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians in Australia cooperated to achieve genocide recognition. The Armenian genocide during the First World War (1915) has been commonly associated with genocide in the late Ottoman Empire. Whilst the Armenian genocide has gained international awareness, the persecution of Greeks and Assyrians in the late Ottoman Empire (1914-1923) remains largely unknown. This thesis brings to public attention the intergenerational memories of traumatic experiences of Greeks and Assyrians living in Australia for the first time. Using an oral history method, it investigates the place these memories have in families and communities in Australia. The Greeks and Assyrians, traditionally neglected in the genocide discourse on the late Ottoman Empire, sought recognition alongside the Armenians. There were challenges to establishing a common narrative of victimhood given the Armenians were active in recognition efforts since the 1960s, and the Greeks and Assyrians only became active in the 1990s. The success of Armenian recognition efforts influenced intercommunal dialogue and collaboration in the late twentieth century, which led to solidarity at the turn of the century. By referencing each other’s experiences, and negotiating memories, they developed a common understanding of the past as co-victims of genocide. Genocide recognition was achieved in the Parliament of South Australia (2009) and New South Wales (2013) with the aim of attaining national recognition from the Australian Federal Government. The recognition of their experiences could only be achieved by reimagining the Australian humanitarian response to their plight (1915-1930). The narratives of the three groups became an Australian issue and provided them with a sense of belonging. However, this challenged the shared history between Australia and Turkey surrounding Gallipoli. The Australian connection spearheaded the recognition efforts, and provided new perspectives on Australian history. Nevertheless, the Australian Federal Government is yet to recognise their plight as genocide. Although differences inform how each group remembers the past, remembrance has been negotiated among the three groups to represent a common experience of genocide.
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    A Quarrel with the German People? The Totalising Logic of Enmity, Narratives of Enmity and the “German Question” on the Australian Home Front During the Second World War
    Duan, Trent ( 2021)
    A significant aspect of wartime discourse is the construction, definition and redefinition of in-group and out-group identities which justify, rationalise and strengthen the support and unity behind a war effort. The totalising “logic” of contemporary visions of twentieth century peoples’ wars, and the horrific realities of such conflicts, facilitated the systematic demonisation, dehumanisation and condemnation of entire peoples and nations. Recent scholarship, however, has emphasised the need to account for unique contexts and political, cultural and moral choice when analysing enmity during the Second World War. Such factors rendered the totalisation of enmity during the conflict, and its concurrent “communitarisation” of identities, contextually contingent, conditional, and far from inevitable, notwithstanding the irrevocable momentum of the enmity process in totalising peoples’ wars. This thesis explores the logic of totalising enmity during the Second World War. It analyses Australian public discourse and contemporary framing of the German enemy between 1939 and 1945. It focuses on the dynamic of this logic by exploring the structures, forms and contested nature of various “narratives of enmity” relating to the “German Question” in the Australian context. Reduced to its core, the German Question summarises the polarising debates on the Allied home fronts as to whether the German nation and people, through their national character, history, culture and aims, expressed bellicose intent and complicity with the objectives, ideology and horrors of National Socialism and the Nazi regime. These questions, this thesis posits, heavily influenced wartime enmification and problematised Australian conceptions of the enemy, despite the unanimity of Australian support for a perceived just, defensive, “good” war against Nazism. Qualitative analysis, largely focusing on Australian print media – editorials, foreign correspondence cables, reports, the correspondence columns, published speeches, cartoons and images across a variety of newspapers, magazines, journals – and other published materials, reveals several ambiguous, contested and often contradictory enmity narratives relating to the German people and nation. This thesis demonstrates Australia’s complex response to the totalising logic of enmity. This thesis proposes that totalising narratives of enmity encompassing the German people were far more pronounced in Australian wartime discourse than previously accounted for in the historiography, and grew exponentially as the war progressed. Widely held distinctions between the German people and Nazism professed in the first months of the war evaporated as the war progressed in light of changing wartime contexts. This process, however, remained contested between 1939 and 1945, even though there was a widespread receptiveness to, and expression of, totalising enmity narratives by the end of the conflict. This thesis investigates the intersecting relationship between three major themes in Australian war discourse – totalising enmity, narratives of enmity and the German Question – to further historical understanding of Australian experiences and attitudes under the pressures of a totalising peoples’ war and situate these findings within the broader historiography of such conflicts.
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    Sex, Psychiatry and the Cold War: A Transnational History of Homosexual Aversion Therapy, 1948-1981
    Davison, Katherine Maeve ( 2020)
    Aversion therapy was a method of ‘treatment’ for sexual ‘deviation’ adopted by some psychiatrists and psychologists in the decades following the Second World War. There were several variations of the procedure, but most involved subjecting a patient to nausea or electric shocks while showing them erotically stimulating images in order to de- and re-condition their sexual behaviours. Aversion therapy enjoyed two short but intense waves of clinical experimentation, first in Czechoslovakia (1950-1962), and then in the British world, including Australia (1962-1975). The Sydney psychiatrist Dr Neil McConaghy, a self-declared ‘Marxist’ and himself bisexual, was directly inspired by the Czechoslovakian experiment led by Dr Kurt Freund and promoted the practice in Australia. McConaghy, Freund and some other practitioners of aversion therapy believed themselves to be sympathetic to sexual minorities, rejected the idea that sexual orientation could be changed and supported decriminalisation. How was this possible? The explanation is to be found in the specific context of its emergence: the geopolitical polarisation of the Cold War and a parallel theoretical polarisation within psychological medicine. A behaviourist paradigm based on the ideas of Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov gained popularity in contradistinction to Freudian psychoanalytic theories favoured in the United States, and from 1949 was the unofficial doctrine of the Eastern Bloc. As homosexuality became a crucial area for expert research by intelligence and security organisations, technologies of detection and diagnosis turned to behaviourism through emotional observation, visual surveillance, psychometric testing and physiological measurement. In a therapeutic context, the Pavlovian framework was taken up in Western countries by practitioners who sought a more empirical and scientific – and therefore ‘humane’ – approach to clinical practice. Patients, however, did not view the procedure as ‘humane’. Nor did activists in the new social movements for gay and women’s liberation and in 1972 in Australia Neil McConaghy became their number one target. This thesis draws on intelligence documents, medical and psychiatric literature, gay print and radio media, oral history interviews, and a newly discovered archival collection: Neil McConaghy’s personal papers. My research charts shifting understandings of sexual orientation from endocrinological and psychoanalytic theories that were dominant in the first half of the twentieth century, to more emotional and behavioural theories in the post-war period. This shift was accompanied by the development of new technologies of detection and treatment which tied in with post-war modernity’s promotion of scientific and materially efficient machines and methods. My contention is that the influence of Pavlovian ideas in post-war therapeutic approaches to homosexuality can only be understood as part of the transnational Cold War circulation of sexological knowledge. By focusing on the movement of this knowledge from East to West, I hope to contribute to the project of ‘decentering Western sexualities’ (Mizlielinska & Kulpa, 2011) and to emerging scholarship charting the global histories of sexology.
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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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    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.