School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Theses

Permanent URI for this collection

Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 35
  • 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
  • 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
    State and local government relations Prahran 1850-1863
    Malone, Betty ( 1955)
    Dealing as it does with only one suburban municipality, and with the first two enactments on municipal government and the period of less than a decade between them, this somewhat specialized study only scratches the surface of the work waiting to be done an municipal history in the middle 19th century. Mr. Weston Bate, in his more detailed study of Brighton, has also stressed this need for balanced historical research on local history. The first section of the following thesis is, to sane extent, a companion piece to his history of another suburban locality. Similar studies remain to be tackled on the other 13 suburban municipalities incorporated before 1863, especially those where, unlike Brighton or Prahran, the Corporation of Melbourne was vitally interested. The Melbourne Corporation itself would provide material for a similar thesis. Only when such work has been done could a rounded interpretation of the metropolitan district be attempted. Similarly, the rural districts, whether gold-raining, squatting, agricultural or mixed areas, have much to yield the research worker.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Healing without hospitals : homeopathy and medical pluralism in nineteenth century New South Wales (1840-1880)
    Bak, Tao ( 2000)
    As in the neighbouring colony of Victoria, homeopathy in colonial New South Wales attracted the support and attention of a wide cross section of society. In this thesis I concentrate on the varying ways in which homeopathy made its presence felt within New South Wales - with particular focus on the period 1840-1880. Linking itself with colonial ideals of progressive social reform, homeopathy in New South Wales, much like its counterpart in the United States, managed to establish itself in opposition to the `conservative' element within nineteenth century society. In a colony which has been described as `excessive' in its preoccupation with liberalism, the New System of homeopathy in New South Wales fitted neatly with both the anti-orthodox sentiment prevalent within New South Wales society, as well as the vision of a better, more egalitarian world which many colonists brought with them to the new country. During the 1850s the homeopaths and their supporters concentrated their efforts on the Sydney Homeopathic Dispensary both as a symbol of progress of the New System within the colony and as a means by which to extend the social benefits of this cheaper, milder and (for many) more effective medicine to the broader community. During the 1860s, with the Dispensary struggling to remain viable, the homeopaths attempted to secure legal support for the New System, petitioning the government to provide homeopathic treatments in government funded hospitals. During the 1870s, the homeopaths made their presence felt primarily through their role in blocking the repeated attempts of the regular medical profession to secure regulatory (restrictive) medical legislation within the colony. Focussing in particular on the public and political debates surrounding Sir Alfred Stephen's 1875 Medical Bill, I focus in the last section of my thesis on the nature of the opposition to restrictive legislation in the colony. I argue that this opposition needs to be understood not only in terms of the lack of unity within the regular medical profession itself, as has often been emphasised, but on the existence of a coherent and self-conscious defence of medical pluralism within the colony - a campaign within which the homeopathic movement in New South Wales played a central role. Working primarily outside of the bounds of the symbolic markers of professionalism (institutions, journals, societies,) often associated with a mature and influential medical tradition, homeopathy in New South Wales was less visible than in many comparable places during the nineteenth century, but no less influential.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    An examination of an argument of E.L. Mascall's in The Christian universe
    Hughes, David John Malcolm ( 1977)
    E.L. Mascall's book The Christian Universe was chosen as as a basis for this thesis because the argument he presents there is a distinctively modern attempt to provide a justification for religious belief. Although it is not merely a reiteration of the traditional arguments, it is deployed in the same way to provide grounds for belief in God. While not dismissing or discounting the value of recent work done in clarifying uses of language in religious contexts -- indeed, the methods and fruits of linguistic and conceptual analysis have been employed in interpreting and assessing the force of Mascall's argument -- there remains the substantial question of whether engaging in religious discourse finally has any point. The impetus to investigate this problem - and thus Mascall's attempt to answer the problem - was gained from an article by- H.E. Root ("Beginning All Over Again," Soundings, A.R. Vidler (ed.), C.U.P., London, 1966). In it be upbraids Christian theologians who . suppose, they can justify their beliefs by reference to revelation. He points out that unless they can give a more appropriate reason for what they believe "there are no grounds for believing that a Christian scheme is preferable to some non-Christian one" and the choice between "Christianity and some other religion (or note) becomes arbitrary, irrational, even trivial" (p.13). There are no easy solutions to this old problem of justifying belief in God. It is significant even to make a small advance in understanding what could provide such a justification. In treating Mascall's argument attention has been paid to the distinct notion, implied there, that the 'usefulness' of the belief -- the function it performs in satisfying the human need for sense and meaning in life -- is a basis, or part of a basis, for asserting that there is such a God, To treat grounds for belief in this way provides a. new insight into theistic argument.
  • 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.