School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Theses

Permanent URI for this collection

Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 17
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    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.'
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Remembering the counterculture: Melbourne’s inner-urban alternative communities of the 1960s and 1970s
    Mckew, Molly Alana ( 2019)
    In the 1960s and 1970s, a counterculture emerged in Melbourne’s inner-urban suburbs, part of progressive cultural and political shifts that were occurring in Western democracies worldwide. This counterculture sought to enact political and social change through experimenting with the fabric of everyday life in the inner-urban space. They did this in the ways in which they ate, socialised, lived, related to money, work, the community around them, and lived – often in shared or communal housing. The ways in which they lived, loved, related to the community around them, and found social and personal fulfilment was tied up with a countercultural politics. My thesis argues that these inner-urban counterculturalists embodied a progressive politics which articulated and enacted a profoundly personal criticism of post-war conservatism.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Red shadow: Malayan Communist Memoirs as Parallel Histories of Malaysia
    Ng, Sze Chieh ( 2019)
    The Malayan Emergency (1948-60) has long been understood from the perspective of the incumbent British and Malay(si)an governments and is universally regarded as a successful counter-insurgency operation against foreign-inspired communists. To date we still have a very limited understanding of what the struggle meant for members of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) and rarely have their voice voices, those who fought on the other side of this struggle, been considered. However, over the last two decades, in the twilight of their lives, a number of members of the MCP have begun to share their personal stories about what they fought for and why. These new first-hand accounts present different insights into the struggle. This thesis uses a unique and as yet underutilized source for studying the members of the MCP: the Chinese-language memoirs of former MCP members. These memoirs present, in the words of MCP members themselves, their motives for why they joined the movement and what their life in the movement was like. I critically analyze these accounts paying attention to the ideas MCP members had for an independent Malay(si)a and the way in which the authors identify with that ideal. Through closer evaluation of the memoirs, this research gives voice to these largely forgotten revolutionaries.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    The earliest filtration of Arabic science to the Latin World : Gerbert d'Aurillac and the case of "Gotmar's circle"
    Zuccato, Marco ( 2005)
    This thesis focuses on the tenth-century transmission of Arabic science to the West and shows through what routes such a filtration occurred. This fundamental episode in the history of western science has traditionally puzzled historians of science for various reasons. First, although several clues speak in favour of an initial filtration of Arabic science from al-Andalus to Catalonia, there is no firm manuscript evidence to corroborate this hypothesis. Second, provided that Arabic science had really filtered to Catalonia during the tenth-century, the modalities of such a filtration are as yet unknown. Third, the nature and contents of this knowledge transmission have not yet been determined with precision. Fourth, although numerous medieval sources claim that Gerbert of Aurillac (the renowned tenth-century schoolmaster of Rheims and later Pope with the name of Sylvester II) was responsible for the introduction of some elements of Arabic science to the West (in particular to France and Italy), modern scholarship has failed to find sufficient evidence to validate this claim. In my Doctoral dissertation I seek to address each of the above-mentioned issues and offer a new historical reconstruction of the process of knowledge transmission from al- Andalus to the Latin world. In particular I distinguish and analyze two main historical phases of this transmission: (Phase A) the first filtration of Arabic astronomy from al- Andalus to Catalonia; (Phase B) the transmission of this knowledge from Catalonia to France. I show that (Phase A) does not occur thanks to Mozarabs transmitting Arabic science to the Christian monastic scriptoria (as it has generally been believed) but via political/diplomatic channels connecting Catalonia with al-Andalus and small cultural circles formed around them. Particular attention is devoted to "Gotmar's circle," one of these small cultural circles headed by the bishop 0f Girona (Gotmar), which included savants such as Miro Bonfffll and Gerbert of Aurillac. Furthermore it is argued that the point of origin of this process of transmission is not al-Andalus but Qayrawan (Tunisia), even though al-Andalus is an important stage in this process. This new knowledge . encompasses not only writings on the use and construction of the astrolabe but also an astronomical treatise on the fabrication of demonstrational celestial spheres and an astrological work. I show that (Phase B) is realised through the scholarly activity of Gerbert of Aurillac. In fact Gerbert, in his astronomical teaching at the cathedral school of Rheims, shows familiarity with a particular celestial sphere displaying a technical element which is unknown to the Latin world but widely used in similar celestial globes of Islamic origin.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Heisenberg and quantum mechanics : the evolution of a philosophy of nature
    Camilleri, Kristian ( 2005)
    The ideas in Heisenberg's paper on quantum mechanics in 1925 mark the beginning not only of a new phase in modern physics, but also of Heisenberg's own philosophical journey. This thesis examines that journey between 1925 and the late 1950s by situating Heisenberg's philosophy of quantum mechanics in the context of his encounters with his contemporaries as well as the context of various strands of thought in the German-speaking world at the time. Heisenberg's early philosophical critique of the 'classical' viewpoint between 1925 and 1927 bears the decisive influence of Einstein's theory of relativity, more specifically, the positivism he saw as underpinning Einstein's emancipation from Newtonian physics. The positivist influence on Heisenberg's early attitude to quantum mechanics is evident in three ways: (a) his invocation of an observability principle in 1925 to justify the renunciation of the concept of the electron orbit, (b) an instrumentalist conception of understanding, which characterised Heisenberg's response to Schrodinger's demand for classical visualisation in space and time in 1926-7, and (c) the introduction of an operational definition of concepts such as position and velocity in 1927, in an attempt to replace the concepts of classical physics. But after discussions with Bohr and Einstein in 1926-7, Heisenberg soon recognised what we might term his `empiricist' viewpoint was problematic. In 1927 Heisenberg's thought undergoes a shift away from the `empiricist' viewpoint that had underpinned his early philosophy of quantum mechanics. The nature and scope of this transformation, which forms the central theme in this thesis, has, up until now, been poorly understood and often completely neglected. Through his discussions with Bohr, Heisenberg came to the realisation that despite their limitations, classical concepts were conditions for the possibility of the description of all experience. This marked the abandonment of his earlier attempt to replace classical concepts with quantum concepts. The recognition of the primacy of classical language forms the point of departure for much of Heisenberg's later thought, which brought him into contact with the attempts in the German-speaking world in the 1920s to reconstruct Kantian epistemology. By the mid-1930s, Heisenberg advocated a 'pragmatic transformation' of Kantian philosophy, in which classical concepts were held to be a priori in the sense that they remained the conditions for the possibility of experience, but were no longer held to be necessary or universal in a strict Kantian sense. After 1940 Heisenberg saw the paradoxes of quantum mechanics under the aegis of what can be termed a 'transcendental conception of language', according to which language is not a mere tool, but actively shapes, gives form, and objectifies, our 'reality'. The limits of a classical 'description' in quantum mechanics therefore came to signify for Heisenberg, the limits of 'objective reality'. While Bohr exerted perhaps the most important philosophical influence on Heisenberg, their intellectual relationship was characterised by disagreement and misunderstanding. This is most strikingly displayed in their respective views on wave-particle duality and complementarily. While after 1927 Heisenberg accepted Bohr's basic insight that our knowledge of the quantum world is mediated through classical language, he did not share Rohr's interpretation of complementarity. While Heisenberg certainly used terms such as 'complementarity' and wave-particle duality' in his writings, a close reading reveals that these terms had very different meanings for the two physicists. This is particularly evident in the contrast between Heisenberg's notion of wave-particle equivalence and Bohr's idea of complementarity. In bringing to light these divergences between Bohr and Heisenberg, this thesis lends further weight to the view - already advocated by scholars such as John Hendry and Mara Beller - that the so-called Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics should not be thought of as a unified philosophical position, but actually comprises a number of different strands.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Wheel of time, wheel of history : cultural change and cultural production in an A mdo Tibetan community
    Stevenson, Mark J ( 1999)
    Examining art, literature and mass media this dissertation aims to understand processes of social and cultural change in Rebkong (Tibetan: Reb gong; Chinese: Huangnan Zangzu Zizhi Zhou [Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture]). Located in Tibet's north-eastern province of Amdo (now on the eastern edge of China's Qinghai Province), Rebkong has long been part of the Sino-Tibetan interface where symbols of identity and power were negotiated through complex and hybrid oppositions. The chapters in Part I describe the historical expansions of Tibetan and Chinese powers into Amdo, focusing on forms of administration and their relation to competing ideologies. From those findings it is argued that the cultural and administrative structures supported by the Chinese state in Amdo today have evolved from earlier forms of colonisation and, in response to forms of imperialism introduced by Western powers, are a modern advance on them. Continuing this theme in Part II the dissertation analyses cultural politics in Rebkong through an examination of ritual art and performance, temple scrolls (T: thang ka), butter sculpture, "socialised" painting, and the lives of individual artists. The mass-media and its impact on questions of identity and new forms of knowledge in Rebkong are also examined in the context of the "outsideness" of the ethnographer. The argument throughout is that change is always a question of power, particularly in colonial contexts. In Rebkong the opposition between Tibetan and Chinese visions of authority has resulted in a series of contrasting values, the most important of which has been that of religious versus secular, or ideal versus material. Since 1949 there have been a number of Chinese political movements that have attempted to eliminate Tibetan Buddhism, along with its symbols, institutions and representatives. The body of research developed here makes it clear that while such strategies have caused much destruction they ultimately strengthen the symbolic power of the cultural values they attempt to displace; as new forms of heterodoxy "Tibetan" values fall outside state control and become unmanageable. Finally the dissertation draws attention to forces of globalisation and to China's own ongoing cultural and ideological crisis. It is argued that the type of cultural analysis presented here, as well as the humanistic opportunities within the ethnographic encounter itself, can suggest new readings of "tradition" as a positive and liberating force for confronting reified and over-politicised forms of cultural life.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    The provision of hospital care in country Victoria 1840's to 1940s
    Collins, Yolande M.J ( 1999)
    Many hospital histories have been written whose authors have usually made exaggerated claims about the significance of individual hospitals. This narrow approach fails to take into account the influences of ideological and economic changes such as the rise of the Labour movement between 1890 and 1915, the erosion of the charitable ideal, the secularisation of Australian society and the increased acceptance of certain welfare provisions as a right rather than a privilege. This results in some misconceptions and a blinkered view of hospital development. A comparative analysis of how country hospitals were administered during this early founding period is important because it reveals that prior to 1862, three categories of hospitals were established, namely, working men's hospitals, custodial or hospital/benevolent institutions and semi-voluntary hospitals. All were controlled by hospital committees dominated by lay community leaders. Country hospitals provided an important focus for small communities with hospital committees defending their independence and resisting attempts by central authorities to wrest administrative control from them. The control exerted by an increasingly centralist State government over hospitals in country Victoria (heavily influenced by the medical profession), hindered their development to a greater degree than those in metropolitan areas. The mechanisms for achieving this were the enforcement of the Appropriation Acts from 1862 and the rigid implementation of the 1923 Hospital and Charities Act. Both of these kept hospitals tied to the voluntary/philanthropic model (or semi-voluntary model because charities received significant funding from the state) until the 1930s thereby delaying the establishment of more viable community hospitals. After the early 1930s, a transition from charities to community hospitals occurred. A major source of their concern was the already inequitable levels of funding compared to metropolitan hospitals. This inequity meant that Hospital Committees spent much time raising funds through enlisting subscribers, fund-raising and soliciting bequests. Their first collective action was the formation of the Country Hospitals Association in 1918. The number of charitable hospitals in country Victoria grew rapidly from fourteen in 1859 to thirty-four in 1891 and sixty-one in 1923. In that year there were also 476 private hospitals, which prior to the 1890s were little more than nursing homes. Whilst the Charities Board sought to control the spread of public hospitals, hospitals established by the Bush Nursing Association proliferated outside their control, leading to conflict between the Board and the Association. Funding for public hospitals dropped significantly between the 1890s and 1930s. At the same time there was an increase in the demand for beds in public hospitals by the lower middle classes who found private hospital costs prohibitive and wanted the higher standard of care provided in public hospital facilities. An increased dependence on medical technology led to an urgent need for the upgrading of Victorian country hospitals' technologically obsolete equipment. Additionally, Victorian hospitals were heavily influenced by North American views on efficiency and standardisation. Finally, the impetus to improve hospitals came in the 1930s when unemployment relief funds and a gambling tax levy subsidised new hospital facilities.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Craft to applied science : the Institution of Civil Engineers, London and the development of scientific civil engineering in Britain, 1818-1880
    Harper, Brian C. S ( 1996)
    This thesis examines civil engineering practitioners and practice in Britain in middle part of the nineteenth century. The background and education of a sample of the engineers of the period, who were members of the Institution of Civil Engineers, London, have been determined from the published records of that Institution. This showed, contrary to what has been commonly believed, that civil engineers were drawn from the middle and upper strata of society. They were well educated for the time. Many had advanced schooling, and almost a quarter of them has some university education. The technical papers on civil engineering subjects were also examined over the period from when they commenced publication in 1837 to 1880 to assess any change that may have taken place in the way the engineers approached their problems by adopting or adapting techniques developed in areas of science to their task so as to turn engineering towards applied science. This examination had to be restricted to a few representative areas of civil engineering activity, and structural design, hydrology and hydraulics, foundations and stability of slopes, materials and railway construction were taken as being fairly representative of the range of tasks faced by civil engineers. This study showed a slow and erratic movement towards embracing "scientific methods" into engineering practice. It became established in the field of structural design, but hardly impacted on the approach to railway permanent way or design, or in the area of foundations and slope stability. There were moves however in all areas. Interestingly these moves were generally led by members who had a university training. Their names appear in many of the areas studied indicating they made a significant contribution to shifting engineering towards applied science.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    An unreasonable profession : spiritualism and mediumship between the wars in Britain
    Hazelgrove, Jennifer P ( 1996)
    In the latter half of the nineteenth century, Spiritualist claims that the dead survive in another world and communicate with the living became a subject of heated debate within English society. Originating in America in the eighteen-forties, Spiritualism found ready converts in England. By 1870, many periodicals were devoted to chronicling the activities of believers, while newspaper articles, church sermons and scientific reports issued a stream of diverse interpretations to a fascinated audience. Spiritualism has become a subject of lively historical interest in recent times, but most historians assume that it was a Victorian and Edwardian phenomenon, with little relevance in post World War I Britain. I began this study with similar assumptions, but as my research progressed, it became clear that the number of people who identified as Spiritualists grew in the interwar years and that Spiritualism was as controversial during this period as in the previous century. In sketching its passage and growth between the wars, I emphasise Spiritualism's ability to absorb and organise both modem and ancient tropes. As the movement continued to gain in popularity the debate over its meaning and possibilities for humankind grew apace. At the centre of these controversies stood the figure of the medium. The mediumistic persona was constructed inside and outside the Spiritualist movement as feminine. This project engages with issues of gender, subjectivity and power in relation to the development of the mediumistic identity. In doing so I stress the profound ambiguity of that identity. The medium, as represented through diverse narratives, appeared as both subject and object, the source of truth and lies, and the mother of life and death. It was always unclear whether she was psychically gifted or demented, or whether she intended to harm or heal. Confronted with opposing narratives, a coherent sense of "self' was not easily achieved by a medium. Ultimately, this study attempts to show that the mediumistic "self' was never a stable result of private conviction, but a deeply unstable and continually shifting production that developed within particular historical circumstances
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    The role of symbols in the development of chemistry to 1916 : with, A dictionary of chemical terms (1600-1800)
    Bryant, Frederick ( 1966)
    The Oxford English Dictionary offers a number of meanings for the word symbol; "Something that stands for, represents, or denotes something else (not by exact resemblance, but by vague suggestion, or by some accidental or conventional relation).... a material object representing or taken to represent something immaterial or abstract ...... a written character or mark used to represent something: a letter, figure or sign conventionally standing for some object, process." When chemistry is taught today it is presented with its symbols developed and the rules of their combinations defined. However, in reaching this stage the chemist's symbols at various times have had the meanings listed above. Chemists and historians of chemistry have discussed the roles and origins of symbols only to a very limited extent. The aim if this thesis is to provide a chronological review of the use of chemical symbols beginning with the exoteric alchemical symbols and concluding with electron theory bonds. We shall show how this use varied from the time when empirical shorthand characters were employed to the time when formulae or combinations of symbols were used as structural diagrams of molecules written in conformity with rules provided by a theory of composition. This association of formulae and rules for their construction will be examined against the often uncertain and disputed nineteenth century background of atoms, radicals and valence. I shall include in this background two examples of mathematical interests in formulae, which have been almost completely ignored by historians of chemistry. They are Bridle's calculus and Sylvester's quantities.