At the intersection of heritage preservation, urban transformation, and everyday life in the twentieth-century Australian city
AuthorLesh, James Phillip
AffiliationSchool of Historical and Philosophical Studies
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2022-10-24.
© 2018 Dr. James Phillip Lesh
This thesis offers a fresh global urban history of the Australian city, its heritage places, and the preservationists who shaped those places. During the twentieth century, Australian urban preservationists – such as architects and planners, boosters and policymakers, heritage consultants and regulators, and activists and everyday people – valued and sought to safeguard many kinds of urban places, comprising buildings, streets, precincts and suburbs and invoking communities, histories, memories and stories. From at least the 1900s, alongside shifts in Europe, North America and elsewhere, the leading impulses for preserving urban heritage – erasure, boosterist, historical, visual and reformist – forming identity and community – resonated in Australia’s modernising cities. During the postwar period (1940s–60s), particularly in the rapidly growing capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, the pursuit of modern urbanism meant city-shapers tended to erase existing environments. Urban Australians still embraced their heritage places, and preservationists furthered the urban heritage processes that drove the 1960s–80s transnational ‘heroic period of conservation’ and the Australian heritage movement. A watershed was the Whitlam Government’s Inquiry into the National Estate (1973–74), which produced an Australian conception for heritage as progressive, democratic, interventionist and integrated. Heritage regimes and their principles and practices were refigured, but contrary to the activists’ demands, preservation never triumphed over other urban priorities. In the 1980s–90s, nevertheless, preservation was strikingly integrated into CBDs and suburbs and their social processes and built forms. Employing rich social history sources and drawing on the insights of urban and heritage studies, this thesis argues that across the twentieth-century Australian city, urban and heritage processes were co-constitutive, relational and entangled. In this study, heritage preservation becomes an integral urban historical process with the potential to enhance cities, places and urban life.
Keywordsurban history; social history; urban heritage; public history; heritage preservation; urban conservation; historic preservation; historic environment; heritage studies; urban planning; heritage planning; planning history; urban regeneration; urban renewal; urban change; urban development; modern urbanism; postmodern urbanism; heritage regimes; Burra Charter; Venice Charter; national estate; global history; transnational history; Australian Heritage Commission; Australian Heritage Movement; CBDs; skyscrapers; suburbs; space and place; Melbourne; Sydney; Brisbane; Perth; Canberra; Hobart; Australian history.
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