School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Theses

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    Countryminded Conforming Femininity: A Cultural History of Rural Womanhood in Australia, 1920 – 1997
    Matheson, Jessie Suzanne ( 2021)
    This thesis explores the cultural and political history of Australian rural women between 1920 and 1997. Using a diverse range of archival collections this research finds that for rural women cultural constructions of idealised rural womanhood had real impacts on their lived experiences and political fortunes. By tracing shifting constructions of this ideal, this thesis explores a history of Australian rural womanhood, and in turn, centres rural women in Australian political and cultural history. For rural women, an expectation that they should embody the cultural ideals of rural Australia — hardiness, diligence, conservatism and unpretentiousness — was mediated through contemporary ideas of what constituted conforming femininity. This thesis describes this dynamic as countryminded conforming femininity. In this respect, this research is taking a feminist approach to political historian Don Aitkin’s characterisation of the Country Party as driven by an ideology of countrymindedness. This thesis uses countryminded conforming femininity as a lens through which cultural constructions of rural womanhood may be critically interrogated, and changes in these constructions may be traced. This thesis represents the first consideration of Australian rural womanhood as a category across time that is both culturally constructed and central to Australian political and cultural life, drawing together histories of rural women’s experience, representations and activism. It theorises what ideals of Australian rural womanhood have meant across the twentieth century and finds that they have had an under-considered role in Australian political life, and on constructions of Australian national identity.
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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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    Point Cook: The Crucible of Air Force Capability in Australia
    Campbell-Wright, Stephen John ( 2019)
    This thesis argues that place can have an influence on cultural heritage. A site can have a profound effect on the cultural heritage of a community or institution through the influence it exerts on public memory and sense of community. It can infuse itself into the narratives that give a community its identity. Such influence is heightened in the military context, especially where events of significance form the basis for the origin stories of the organisation. While military forces in Australia often refer to significant places, they give little attention to investigating, documenting and interpreting the effect of these sites on their cultural heritage or, more broadly, on local communities near the site, and on the nation. This study examines the influence of place on cultural heritage through the example the National Heritage Listed military site of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base at Point Cook. The thesis is an analytical case study that uses the site of Point Cook, and it comprises two principal components: historical enquiry and cultural heritage analysis. The approach is cross-disciplinary and places historical research into the site within a cultural heritage framework. The elements of intangible cultural heritage and site significance provide a framework for the historical enquiry into the site that, rather than comprising a single historical narrative, documents and expresses the history of the site through those two cultural heritage points of reference. The subsequent analysis interprets the site within four settings: the local community around Point Cook, the national setting, the international setting and finally the RAAF community. This thesis finds that the RAAF base at Point Cook has significantly influenced the cultural heritage of the RAAF. It pervades the public memory of the organisation, infusing itself into its birth narrative and acquiring attributed layers of meaning that act, in part, to form the identity of the present-day institution. Further, the site has helped to shape the culture of the local community, and it has played a part in the broader narrative of national development—in particular, in the roles that military and civil aviation have played in Australia’s development. The research findings demonstrate that sites of significance can have an effect that is not constrained to the community associated with it and can be used to help shape local communities, as well as to provide richer detail in the national narrative.
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    Colonial soundscapes: a cultural history of sound recording in Australia, 1880–1930
    Reese, Henry Peter ( 2019)
    ‘Colonial Soundscapes’ is the first systematic cultural history of the early phonograph and gramophone in Australian settler society. Drawing on recent work in sound studies and the history of sound, the ‘talking machine’ is conceived as part of the soundscape of colonial modernity in colonial and Federal Australia. I argue that national environmental/place attachment and modern listening practices developed together, with anthropological thought, popular culture, commercial life, intellectual elite discourse and everyday life providing the key sites for transformation. This thesis reads the materials of the early sound recording industry in light of recent conceptual emphases on the importance of sound in cultural life. Archival research into the history of sound recording was conducted at the EMI Archives Trust and Thomas Alva Edison Papers, Rutgers University, among others. I also draw heavily on the papers of several foundational anthropological recordists, chiefly Baldwin Spencer, Alfred Cort Haddon and E. Harold Davies. Extensive research into the trade and popular phonographic press also provides a corpus of material through which it is possible to recover the meaning of recorded sound in everyday Australian life in its first generations. I conceive of the early phonograph and gramophone in terms of an ‘economy’ and ‘ecology’ of sound in a settler society. These concepts are proposed as a mechanism for accounting for the raft of cultural responses provoked by early sound recording. An ‘economy’ of sound encompasses the economic, archival and scientific modes of apprehending the changed relationship between sound and source. The economic and business structures that underpinned the rise of a national recording industry in Australia fall under this rubric, as do attempts by salvage anthropologists to taxonomically fix and locate the speech and musics of Indigenous peoples, believed to be endangered by the onset of colonial modernity. Drawing on the concept of the soundscape, as modified by significant scholarship in the history of sound in recent years, an ‘ecology’ of sound focuses on the poetic, vernacular and emplaced repsonses to recorded sound that pervaded early Australian cultures of listening.
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    Beyond boycotts: Melbourne's response to Japanese aggression in China, 1937-1939
    Cook, Emily ( 2018)
    University of Melbourne, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) History Thesis.
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    Beyond the aetiology debate: the “great LSD scandal” at Newhaven Private Hospital & the social foundations of mental health legislation in Victoria, Australia
    Lomax, Megan Kristine ( 2017)
    This research presents a case for the extension of existing analyses of Australian psychiatric scandals beyond the conclusion that such events are an inherent feature of the profession by virtue of its failure to resolve the aetiology debate. A mid-century impasse in the aetiology debate – the continuous shifting over time of professional commitment between organic and environmental aetiologies of mental illness – has been identified as the catalyst for the emergence of the therapeutic paradigm of eclecticism that fostered the deep sleep therapy and ‘Therapeutic Community’ programs that were central to Australia’s two infamous psychiatric scandals at Chelmsford and Townsville, respectively. While these two affairs were enduring the scrutiny of commissions of inquiry, the recommendations of which translated to the legislative reform of mental health services in the states of New South Wales and Queensland, a third such scandal was unfolding at Newhaven Private Hospital in Victoria involving the “injudicious use” of therapeutic LSD. By the late 1980s and early 90s, a number of former “patients” of Newhaven emerged claiming that they had never suffered any mental illness and that the LSD they had received had not been administered for therapeutic purposes but rather as a recruitment tool for a fringe religious sect known as The Family that had commandeered the hospital and the loyalty of a number of its staff. What constituted the scandal at Newhaven, however, was the fact that these activities continued unchallenged despite the implementation of statutory regulations – the Poisons (Hallucinogenic Drugs) Regulations 1967 – designed specifically to protect against the abuse of therapeutic hallucinogens. Having avoided any formal inquiry of its own, the Newhaven case represented not only a compelling narrative history opportunity, but also a test of the robustness of the prevailing argument that such scandals emerge as a consequence of the profession’s failure to achieve consensus on the aetiology of mental illness against the implication that inadequate legislation facilitated the abuse. Using the case of Newhaven as a working example, this research analyses the historical mental health legislation of Victoria and parliamentary debates to construct a legislative history of the aetiology debate and confirm its role in the emergence of psychiatric scandal, arguing that the Poisons (Hallucinogenic Drugs) Regulations 1967, and indeed mental health policy more broadly, were in fact products of the debate. Furthermore, it demonstrates how, far from being insulated within the profession of psychiatry, the debate itself was informed by wider prevailing social, cultural, political and economic trends. The abuse of therapeutic LSD unfolded under permissive regulations which reflected the permissive nature of broader mental health policy embodied in the Mental Hygiene Acts and their signature initiative of deinstitutionalisation. This permissiveness was a symptom of the underlying atmosphere of eclecticism that characterised mid-century psychiatry in Victoria as it sought to accommodate simultaneously the biological and social bases for the eugenic and community-based measures, respectively, that developed in response to the co-emergent social forces of the ‘mental hygiene’ and ‘anti-psychiatry’ movements.
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    A colonial soldier and the Algerian war of independence: questions of loyalty and identity for the Bachaga Boualam
    Birimac, Natasha ( 2017)
    This thesis examines the impact of colonial occupation and its demise on the life of an Algerian Colonial Soldier: The Bachaga Boualam. Drawing on a vast array of primary sources including books written by Boualam, documents from the French Colonial Archives and newspaper articles the tension between collaboration with and resistance to imperialism is explored. By examining Algeria's history as a colonised country, the loyalty to France which was developed, Boualam's life and the breakdown of colonial structures the thesis allows for a deep analysis about the impact of imperialism on an individual level.
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    The instant image: a critical and creative exploration of the one-off photographic images
    Zeeng, Lynette ( 2017)
    The research questions that underpin this thesis arise from my search for an alternative photographic process within my creative practice, following the demise of Polaroid in 2008. This study first investigates the history of photography and the many processes that created one-off finite images, including the contemporary adaptation of these processes. It then documents my creative work in reproducing and modifying several historical photographic processes, such as cyanotype and tintype, and my application of alternate means of photographic expression that maintain the unpredictable outcome achieved using Polaroid techniques. This doctorate is by exegesis and creative practice. It is in two volumes. In Volume One, the first four chapters trace the history of photographs, the scientific and artistic developments that led to the phenomenon we know as photography. My research outlines the scientists and practitioners behind the many evolving photographic processes, particularly those that produced one-off unrepeatable images. These chapters review the significance of each of these one-off processes, examining in detail such photographic processes as cyanotype and oil printing, how they were achieved and what influence they may have had on the further development of photography up to the present day. The thesis reflects on the individual nuances, veracity and limitations of the various processes that produced one-off tactile images that were unrepeatable without mechanical intervention. Chapters five to seven discuss the applications associated with the various one-off processes and the creative work that emerged from my trials and adaptations of them. These chapters document my experiments and how the processes may be adapted, altered or modified with contemporary technology or updated chemistry. I have also investigated the resurgence of the historical processes, now deemed ‘alternative’, among artists and photographers who, like myself, are seeking a new creative expression in their work. Volume Two is my creative portfolio. This provides the culmination of my archival and applied research and documents the public exhibitions of my creative work that comprises the doctorate. The creative portfolio showcases the outcome of the experiments undertaken to explore, review and revise various historic photographic processes, producing a body of one-off unrepeatable images that maintain the perfect imperfections, unique artifacts and veracity shown by my earlier work with Polaroid.
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    Prostitution and the state in Victoria, 1890-1914
    Arnot, Margaret ( 1986)
    The later decades of the nineteenth and the early decades of the twentieth centuries were marked by considerable change in Victorian society. Rapid urban expansion and industrialization were among the most profound of these developments. They resulted in increasing problems of urban over-crowding, poverty, sanitation and, despite the youth of the cities, decay. Those in power began to see these urban problems as being partly related to the nature of working-class life, so sought to control aspects of working-class culture to an unprecedented degree. During this period, legislation relating to liquor, tobacco, drugs, and gambling, for example, were brought into effect for the first time or became more intrusive. Street life was becoming increasingly regulated. In 1891, for example, amendments to the Victorian Police Offences Act made important changes to the social construction of anti-social behaviour and placed increased power in the hands of the police and legal institutions to control the behaviour of individuals in public places. As part of this development, soliciting prostitution was made an offence for the first time. Women, too, had become subversive. Feminists demanded the vote, increased educational opportunities and threatened the established power differential between the sexes. At the same time, legislation was being passed and medical practices were emerging which increasingly impinged upon women's bodies and upon the areas of women's traditional power - life itself and child life. Kerreen Reiger has traced the increasing attempts to professionalize and rationalize family life, resulting in greater intrusion into the lives of women in relation to childbirth and motherhood.' Increasing attempts to control prostitution in Australia date from this same period, and can be seen as part of these processes. It was from the 1860s that an edifice of laws was constructed. Firstly, legislators were concerned with how women were forced into prostitution (procuring), the relationships between women working in prostitution and their children, and the spread of venereal disease. Later, from the 1890s, there was a new spate of legislation related to soliciting, the ownership and management of brothels, procuring, and living on the earnings of prostitution. During the same period a centralized, bureaucratized police force, which was crucially involved in the increasing control of prostitution, was established in Victoria. The prison system, too, became more organized and intrusive. By the later part of this period the move toward greater state intrusion into the area of prostitution was clear; the years 1890 to 1914 have been chosen for detailed study. This period was marked at the beginning by important new amendments to the Police Offences and Crimes Acts in 1891 and at the end by the advent of the First World War, which created new contexts and problems. (From Introduction)
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    Redemption, redemption, redemption: slaves, souls and silver in the life of John Harrison, c.1604-1638
    Cutter, Nathaniel ( 2016)
    This thesis explores the world of a seventeenth-century English diplomat, mostly based in Morocco but also visiting France, the Dutch Republic and Bermuda. It examines his binding motivations and beliefs in order to understand his actions.