School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Theses
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Sex, Psychiatry and the Cold War: A Transnational History of Homosexual Aversion Therapy, 1948-1981
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.
‘The Bishop with 150 Wives’: Interrogating the Missionary and Ecclesiastical Career of Monsignor Francis Xavier Gsell MSC (1872-1960)
This thesis provides the first comprehensive scholarly investigation into the missionary and ecclesiastical career of Monsignor Francis Xavier Gsell MSC (1872-1960). Remembered as the apocryphal ‘Bishop with 150 Wives’, Gsell is famous for his work among the Tiwi people, from whom he purchased the marriage rights of young women as part of a broader evangelisation strategy. A mythic figure in popular histories of the Northern Territory, Gsell’s complex legacy, however, has rarely received thorough academic scrutiny. Going beyond the many myths and legends, this thesis uses Gsell as a lens through which to examine race relations in northern Australia during the first half of the twentieth century. It locates Gsell within the context of evolving Indigenous policy in the Northern Territory, over which he exerted significant influence through strategic collusion with Commonwealth authorities, while simultaneously demonstrating the ways in which Gsell stood at the forefront of shifting Catholic attitudes towards First Nations peoples. It reveals a man of strong conviction, incredible political reach, and conflicting legacy. Gsell worked as an advocate for Indigenous welfare and challenged the racist attitudes of his contemporaries. Notwithstanding his ethnocentric paternalism, the missionary’s gradualist approach to Christian conversion helped ensure the preservation of a great many aspects of traditional culture on the Tiwi Islands. Yet Gsell also wholeheartedly endorsed assimilation policies which saw the forced removal of mixed-descent children from their families from as early as 1910. This resulted in the destruction of many Indigenous languages and cultures as, torn from kin and Country, these children became members of the Stolen Generations. By interrogating the legends, this thesis ultimately provides a new and holistic appraisal of Gsell’s life and legacy in the Northern Territory.
The transformation of Australian military heroism during the First World War
This thesis examines how Australian heroism was defined and represented during the First World War. I present an in-depth analysis of two sets of primary sources: Victoria Cross (VC) medal citations and Australian wartime newspapers. Victoria Cross citations are official British military descriptions of battlefield acts that have earned a serviceman the VC medal and therefore offer a window into how British and dominion commanders awarded and prescribed heroism. My analysis of all British and dominion VC citations, from the institution of the medal in 1856 to the end of the First World War in November 1918, show that the type of act that was primarily awarded the VC changed in late 1916 and early 1917. While most VCs were awarded for acts of saving life before this point, this changed to an emphasis on acts of killing. Statistics compiled from VC citations also show that Australians were exceptional in the way they were awarded the medal during the conflict, receiving proportionally more awards for killing and fewer for life saving than any other British or dominion nation. Analysis of major Australian newspapers’ representations of military heroism during the war reveals a similar trend. Australian newspapers primarily represented stretcher-bearers and wounded men as the heroes of Gallipoli in reports throughout 1915, yet from the entry of Australian forces into the Western Front in 1916, newspaper representations of heroism focused far more on men who killed the enemy. This thesis offers an original contribution to the literature by showing how and why pre-war ideals of heroism transformed in Australia during the course of the First World War. It specifically identifies the dominant model of Australian heroism that existed in 1914, and traces how it was displaced by new ideals of heroism considered more necessary and apt for the conditions of the Western Front. In identifying the shifting ideals that were officially recognised and widely represented as epitomising the highest forms of military valour, this thesis is the first to examine the nature of Australian hegemonic heroism during the First World War. In analysing the dominant heroic model in Australia during the First World War and showing how and why this model transformed over the course of the conflict, this study presents new insights into the nature of heroism and masculinity in wartime Australia.
The Office of Magister Militum in the 4th Century CE: A Study into the Political and Military History of the Later Roman Empire
The magistri militum were the highest-ranking generals of the late Roman imperial army. Emperor Constantine I created this office in the early part of the fourth century with the intention of reducing the chance that generals would threaten the reigns of his sons and dynastic heirs. This was initially a success, and the magistri militum competently served the whims of the emperors for many decades. They commanded the imperial armies in war, they were involved in asserting the religious will of the emperors, and their schemes were limited to low-level politicking. Over time, however, the magistri began to resist the dominance of the emperors, and this thesis will seek to explore how the role of the magistri changed through certain decisive moments over the course of the late fourth century. These instances included when the magister Merobaudes raised a four-year old child as a puppet emperor under his control, or when Arbogast refused an order of dismissal from the same emperor, now an adult. The final decisive moment of the fourth century was Stilicho’s appointment as guardian and protector of the emperor Honorius. These events dramatically changed the political sphere of the western Empire, which would continue to be dominated by generals until the dissolution of imperial control in western Europe. This phenomenon will be compared to different but concurrent developments in the eastern Empire, which contrastingly resulted in the dilution of military power and instead the supremacy of civil officials. To further develop our understanding of the office of magister militum, this thesis will also conduct a prosopographical study. This will look at the religious beliefs of the magistri, the career path that lead an ambitious man to this office, as well as the ethnic identity of the magistri. The conclusions drawn from this study will show that the most potent magistri shared certain important traits that made them predisposed to seeking and achieving this massive degree of power.
The social and moral campaigning of Australian trade unions, 1960s to 2015
Although wages and working conditions have long been their ‘bread and butter’, trade unions have frequently campaigned on broader social and moral issues. In the Australian context, however, the labour history literature remains relatively silent on these contributions. Drawing on archival analysis and interviews undertaken with key participants, this thesis examines three case studies of such non-industrial activism by unions: support for Aboriginal rights in the 1960s; solidarity with the East Timorese independence movement; and, most recently, opposition to governmental policy on immigration detention. Critical analysis of the campaigns is informed by the concept of social movement unionism (SMU), a variant of unionism developed by scholars seeking to understand and arrest a global decline in labour’s influence in recent decades. The model is marked by broader issue-based campaigns, high levels of internal democracy, political independence, and the development of alliances with external social movement partners. Widely understood as having developed in the Global South in the 1980s, some have pointed to an earlier campaign in Australia – the NSW Builders’ Labourers’ Federation’s ‘green bans’ against socially-destructive developments in 1970s Sydney – as a historical precedent for SMU. Supporting this assessment, I propose an even earlier Australian example, and argue that SMU has been more evident in Australian history than previously acknowledged.
Virtue and the Three Monkey Defence: Regulating Ethical Conduct in the Australian Public Service.
The thesis is an investigation of the efficacy of the “values-based” ethics regulation system (“system”) operated by the Australian Public Service (“APS”). Normative propositions which identify virtue, human character, or dispositions to behave, as determinatively contingent factors in public officials’ compliance with their statutory ethics obligations serve as an entry-point for the investigation. The proposition, that a public officer’s compliance with statutory ethical obligations is down to virtue, is critiqued from the standpoint of the tension which arises from two mutually incompatible narratives argued to coincide in relation to perceptions of ethical conduct in the APS; the first ‘official’ narrative is in the form of the APS Commissioner’s annual State of the Service Report, which regularly reports near perfect compliance of APS officers with their ethical obligations. The second narrative arises from myriad news reports, parliamentary inquiries and whistleblower disclosures, of apparently considerable and systemic misconduct, serious misconduct, corruption, and other forms of misfeasance. In order to put this analysis into effect, the thesis poses the following questions: - To what extent is virtue – expressly or impliedly – a constituent theoretical component in the development of the liberal-democratic tradition and, in particular, the model of Westminster public administration which developed from this tradition in the nineteenth-century? - Does the APS system of ethics regulation rely upon a virtue-ethics type methodology, or is one implied in its design? - What challenges are posed to the efficacy of the APS system of ethics regulation from the standpoints respectively of situationist ethics and sociological theories of interaction? The thesis investigates the historical place of virtue (and related concepts) in the theoretical formation of the liberal-democratic project, and particularly the conceptual development of the social contract and the Westminster model of public administration. The triumvirate concepts of trust, legitimacy, and consent, provide an analytical prism through which to critique the notional place and operation of the statutory system of ethics regulation in the APS and, particularly, certain (arguably) virtue-like statutory provisions which are traditionally emblematic of, or otherwise fundamental to, the principles of Westminster public administration. Nineteenth-century developments such as the disappearance of “virtue” from public discourse and the formative development of the idea of the ‘permanent civil servant’ are analysed in their historical context. The evolution of the modern APS, from its traditional Westminster formulation, to the current results-focused “values-based” system, is described and critiqued in terms of the resulting tensions for the accountability and impartiality of public servants. Finally, the proposition that virtue must properly constitute the basis for a public officer’s compliance with statutory ethical obligations is critiqued from two theoretical perspectives that pose a challenge to virtue-ethics: firstly, the current debate between situationist ethicists and virtue ethicists as to the validity of the so-called fundamental attribution error; and, secondly, interactionist theories, focusing in particular on the work of Harold Garfinkel, Erving Goffman, and Anthony Giddens. The thesis proposes that the (unacknowledged) primary purpose of the APS ethics regulation system is to manage perceptions of legitimacy for the sake of the social contract.
De Se Communication: language, thought and co-aboutness
This dissertation is about the co-aboutness problem of de se communication. An essential requirement of successful communication is that participants of communication must talk about the same subject matter. I call this requirement the co-aboutness condition of communication. According to the traditional picture of communication, what is communicated is transmitted between participants of that communication in accordance with the replication transmission model. In that case, the co-aboutness condition is satisfied by same-saying, which is the replication of one other’s linguistic expressions. The basic idea behind the same-saying strategy is that we talk about the same subject matter if we use the same words. However, for an idiosyncratic type of communication, which is de se communication, same-saying simply does not work. De se communication is the communication of de se thought. In de se communication, we will definitely talk past each other if we just replicate one another’s words. For example, if I say, ‘I am happy’, and you reply, ‘I am happy’, we are not talking about the same subject matter because I am talking about my feeling and you are talking about your feeling. So, how can we satisfy the co-aboutness condition in de se communication? This question is the central question of this dissertation. I argue that in de se communication, what is communicated is transmitted in accordance with a new model, the translation transmission model. In order to satisfy the co-aboutness condition of communications which conform to the translation transmission model, a new strategy must be developed. I call the new strategy ‘translation’. Participants of a de se communication talk about the same subject matter by means of translating one another’s words. The most important part of this translation strategy is the translation of first person terms. The singular first person indexical ‘I’ is representative of first person terms. So, in this dissertation I will focus on the translation of ‘I’. For the purpose of fulfilling the co-aboutness condition in de se communication, which term is a good translation of ‘I’? In order to answer this question, I introduce Worsnip’s analogy between the intrapersonal incoherence and interpersonal disagreement (Worsnip, 2019, pp. 252-259). Based on this analogy, I develop a further analogy between the intrapersonal de se inference and the interpersonal de se communication. This analogy gives us an important clue for looking for a good translation of ‘I’: if ‘X’ is a good translation of ‘I’, then the co-referential relation between ‘X’ and ‘I’ must closely imitate the co-referential relation between two tokens of ‘I’. So, the term whose co-referential relation with ‘I’ best imitates the co-referential relation between two tokens of ‘I’ is the translation of ‘I’ for which I am looking. This term, I argue, is ‘you’. The analogy between the ‘I-I’ same-saying and ‘I-You’ translation is sustained by three similarities. The first similarity is that the ‘I-I’ co-reference in de se inference and the ‘I-You’ co-reference in de se communication are both explained by explanations of the externalist approach, and their externalist explanations are analogous to one another. This similarity is the most important one of the three similarities. Why is there ‘I-You’ co-reference in de se communication? How does my ‘I’ co-refer with your ‘you’? I argue that the co-reference of ‘I-You’ translation is established by the match between the mutual recognition relation and the ‘I-You’ reciprocity in de se communication. The second similarity is that the ‘I-I’ co-reference is transparent to the producer of de se inference, just as the ‘I-You’ co-reference is transparent to the participants of de se communication. The third similarity is that both the ‘I-I’ co-reference and the ‘I-You’ co-reference are immune to the effect of misrepresentation. I articulate those three similarities. My articulation justifies the legitimacy of the analogy between ‘I-I’ same-saying and ‘I-You’ translation. In this articulation, I examine the ‘I-You’ translation by three criteria for determining the proper connection between translation and co-aboutness. After this examination, I conclude that the ‘I-You’ translation satisfies all three criteria. At the end of the dissertation, I provide my answer to the central question of this dissertation: when participating in a de se communication, we fulfill the co-aboutness requirement by using ‘I-You’ translation.
The Victorian Farmers’ Union, Country, and National Party, 1916-2000: Survival, Adaptation, and Evolution
This thesis undertakes a detailed analysis of the Country-National Party in Victorian state politics from its formation as the Victorian Farmers’ Union during the First World War through to the defeat of the Kennett Liberal-National Coalition Government in 1999. Long neglected as a subject of dedicated research, the Victorian Country-National Party is a rare example of an agrarian party that endured for over a century in a developed and comparatively urbanised democratic polity. The thesis examines the various survival and adaptation strategies deployed by the movement as it transitioned from its origins as an exclusively agrarian, political-industrial farmers union into a more broad-based, ‘country-minded’ rural party, and subsequently into a conservative, regional-oriented, right-aligned wing party. Having subsisted for most of its history as an independent agrarian third party outside of a conventional anti-Labor coalition partnership, the Victorian Country-National Party charted the most distinctive course of any of its federal and interstate counterparts over the course of the twentieth century. By situating the Victorian movement within the context of the wider agrarian party family in both Europe and North America, it is argued that its overarching strategic direction conformed more closely to the pattern exhibited by most comparable agrarian parties abroad than did the rigid coalition model that was adopted elsewhere in Australia from the 1920s onwards. Like most agrarian parties, the Victorian Country-National Party initially conceived of itself as a moderate agrarian force positioned between the twin urban-based extremes of city capital and organised labour, and sustained its parliamentary representation by means of an extensive, farmer-dominated, mass-membership, extra-parliamentary machine. The thesis explores how the party forged strategic alliances with both sides of the traditional party divide between the First World War and the 1970s, before it finally accepted the coalition model and pursued a political partnership with the Liberal Party. The thesis challenges the assumption that the party was merely a passive conduit for ‘country-minded’ sentiments in Victoria, and instead posits that the movement actively cultivated and shaped agrarian political thought amongst its members and supporters, and reinforced traditional gender relations on the land. The thesis examines how power was contested in the movement as the parliamentary leadership successfully resisted the efforts of the organisational wing executive to enforce external controls over the elected members and assumed greater authority over the strategic direction of the party.
The Forgotten Broadcaster: Alan Bell and the Spirit of England
From Prologue: As he stepped off the boat at Circular Quay, Alan Bell was wonderstruck. “Was it England I had come from?” he asked, “or some misty outer planet?”1 England, with its wintery landscape seemed a whole world away when Bell met the lazy blue skies of Australia in May 1942. Having spent weeks at sea, the well-known London journalist had arrived in Sydney fascinated by the country he would call home for the duration of the war.2 Melbourne would be the city from which he played his part in the conflict as a radio broadcaster for 3DB.3 Every night of the week, except Saturday and Sunday, Bell delivered ten minute talks that discussed and analysed Australia’s involvement in the war.4 His broadcasts served as a propaganda service that demonstrated a clear bias towards Britain’s war effort in Europe, informing his listeners that defeat of Hitler was more necessary to the war effort than defeating the Japanese in the Pacific………
Australia's Monumental Women: Pioneer Women's Memorial Gardens and the Making of Gendered Settler-Colonial Place
From its inception in the nineteenth century, Australia’s public commemorative landscape has centred on a white, nationalist and masculine identity. In recent years, Australian public memorials have been subject to increasing public and academic scrutiny. Occupying public space, colonial monuments legitimise settler-colonial narratives of Indigenous dispossession, effacing Indigenous histories, counter-narratives, and claims to land. An important absence from this debate over physical markers of historical consciousness in Australia is the discussion of memorials dedicated to white settler women. These monuments make up only twenty per cent of all Australian monuments, those conceived of and produced by women even less. Australia’s ‘monumental women’ are in need of critical historiographical analysis as the question ‘whose history are we telling?’ continues to permeate both public and academic historical debate. As is broadly accepted in Australian historiography, white settler women – at once coloniser and colonised – contributed to the processes of colonisation in a myriad of ways. The analysis of their historical markers of memory is challenging yet necessary historiographical terrain if Australia is to reconcile with its settler-colonial past and present and find new ways of memorialising in the future.
Dissent, Discussion and Dissemination: the Strategies of The Kensington Society in the Mid-Victorian Women's Movement
This thesis investigates the strategic communication of mid-nineteenth century British feminism through the activism and networking of the Kensington Society (1850-1890). Collectively and individually, the sixty-eight members of Britain’s first female-only discussion society practised a range of intellectual communication strategies to reform the position of women in society. In combining literary historical and communication approaches, it also aims to readdress the intellectual heritage of the Kensington Society, asking why it was established, and how it was utilised to spark a wider discussion on women’s rights in mid-nineteenth century Britain. To do so, the thesis investigates the political and religious dissenting heritage of the sixty-eight members; their English Woman’s Journal; discussion through private letters and publications, and their involvement in founding Britain’s first women’s tertiary college, Girton College, Cambridge. Through a historicist examination of the communication of the Kensington Society, it specifically examines the pivotal role the Society played in the individual reforms of its members, and the wider women’s movement of Victorian England. The first chapter argues that the Kensington Society was in debt to the ‘intellectual culture’ of their heritage. The second chapter examines the purpose behind their unified work in the earlier English Woman’s Journal, their initial attempt to enter the public press and the moderate success this allowed. The third chapter explores their subsequent decision to embrace the private realm open to them and establish a discussion society. To illustrate the fulfilment of this decision, the fourth and fifth chapters articulate the flexibility of intentions achieved, and the broad range of discursive communication traversed through nineteenth-century women’s activism. The final chapter considers the impact of the Kensington Society: women empowered by functional and informative discussion who utilised the skills and tools they learnt to bring about change in Victorian society.
Three Major Industrial Disputes 1928-30, Rank-and-File Action and the Communist Party of Australia
At the start of the Depression in Australia, workers in three industries waged determined struggles against significant cuts to their wages and conditions: waterside workers in 1928, timber workers in 1929, and coal miners of the NSW Northern District in 1929-30. Those three industrial battles, which all resulted in crushing defeats for the unions, shaped the industrial and political context of the ensuing years, but there have been few in-depth studies of them. A connection has often been drawn between the resistance of those workers, and the Communist Party of Australia (CPA)’s agitation. This thesis interrogates that assumption. It re-examines the waterside and timber strikes and coal lockout, investigating the activity of rank-and-file union members, the women who joined their struggles, and Communists. It finds that in the two disputes that featured independent rank-and-file activity, the waterside strike and the coal lockout, Communists agitated but had little influence due to the small size of the party. In the waterside strike, the CPA nonetheless made a notable contribution by organising women, particularly the strikers’ wives, to support the struggle. It later built on that activity in the timber strike. In the wharfies’ and miners’ unions, where branch autonomy persisted despite the union federation, rank-and-file militants were very capable of leading industrial action without the intervention of a party. The rank and file had their own minds. The limits of militants’ ad-hoc organisation, however, became evident when the struggle in the coal industry escalated. The fact that the CPA played only a minor role in the coal lockout contradicts much of the historiography of that dispute. This thesis builds on Jim Comerford’s history, which challenged the myth that Communists were influential among locked-out miners, by showing how 1940s CPA histories shaped and distorted the subsequent historiography. It considers the party’s efforts to organise among mineworkers prior to the industrial battle in the coal industry. Communists gained little ground on the coalfields, except in the NSW Western District, where miners were not locked out. However, the CPA-led Militant Minority Movement established itself as a potential pole of attraction for militant miners through the 1928 national Convention of the Miners’ Federation. Given the party’s lack of a sizeable presence on the Northern District coalfields, it did not exercise much influence during the lockout. But the CPA grew substantially there in the second half of the dispute, after a new federal Labor government failed to restart the mines and the unionists faced a hostile state government and police bullets while picketing. The miners’ independent rank-and-file struggle, however, was co-ordinated by non-Communist militant lodge leaders. In the timber strike, in which the rank and file did not act against their officials’ advice, Communists were part of the strike leadership. CPA leader Jack Kavanagh played a prominent role in Sydney, organising daily picketing, while Communist women encouraged strikers’ wives to organise hardship relief and protests. Despite the Comintern’s introduction of its Class Against Class policy, the CPA did not oppose the union leaders, which was a factor in the party leadership being ousted in December 1929 for a new one obedient to the Comintern. While debunking overstatements of Communist influence, this thesis also challenges the prevailing idea that the Kavanagh-led CPA was disconnected from the working class, showing how the party was active in these major struggles.