School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Theses
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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.
The Sioni Cultural Complex: Cultural complexity and interaction during the Transcaucasian Chalcolithic
In the past, the Chalcolithic period (c. 5000-3500 B.C.E.) in the Transcaucasus represented a poorly defined “interlude” between the Late Neolithic and the Early Bronze Age. An understanding of this period was hindered by a lack of reliable chronological frameworks, radiocarbon dates, stratified cultural deposits, and adequately defined local and regional assemblages. However, within recent research, the Chalcolithic has emerged as a distinct chronological period within the Transcaucasus and is characterised by the appearance of new material assemblages, a shift in settlement patterns and subsistence strategies, and a trend towards increasingly complex socio-economic dynamics. These developments took place against a backdrop of intensified interregional interaction which formed an extensive network, stretching from northern Mesopotamia to the northern Caucasus, centred on the trade and exchange of natural resources and raw materials. In the 1970s, the discovery of a ceramic assemblage, at the site of Sioni in the Marneuli district in eastern Georgia, led to the articulation of a local complex and a distinct Chalcolithic period in the Transcaucasus. The Sioni cultural complex is defined by its ceramic assemblage which is characterised by grit and obsidian tempered vessels with distinctive incised and impressed rims. Sioni ceramics are found concentrated at sites throughout eastern and southern Georgia but are also widely dispersed in small quantities across the Caucasus region including contemporary sites in Armenia, Azerbaijan, eastern Anatolia, north western Iran, and the northern Caucasus. Since its discovery, “Sioni” has become synonymous for the Chalcolithic period in the Transcaucasus and has come to represent a chronological indicator within the region. Despite this, the Sioni complex remains inadequately defined. The term “Sioni” has come to refer to both a ceramic tradition and a broad set of technological, morphological, and stylistic features among contemporary assemblages. As a major complex, the lack of a concise definition regarding Sioni represents a significant gap within the current research and understanding of the Chalcolithic period within the Transcaucasus. This research aims to provide a foundational definition for the Sioni complex through an analysis of the unpublished ceramic assemblage from the type site. This study also examines these ceramics in relation to other contemporary Sioni sites, throughout eastern and southern Georgia, and will trace the distribution of similar materials across the Caucasus. Beyond Georgia, Sioni ware will be analysed in relation to other contemporary traditions and shared features among these assemblages will be identified. In doing so, this research places the Sioni complex within the wider regional and chronological context of the Transcaucasus during the Chalcolithic period and articulates how it may have interacted, both locally and regionally, with other contemporary traditions. The study concludes by suggesting a restricted approach to the Sioni complex by using the assemblage from the type site as a foundation for its definition. The major features of the ceramic tradition are highlighted and Sioni is defined as a domestic cooking ware local to the areas of eastern and southern Georgia during the Chalcolithic period.
The Buddhist ethics of killing: metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics
Significant media interest and academic scholarship has in recent years brought attention to the normative status of killing in Buddhism, concurrent with the worst genocidal event since the last century, committed by apparent Buddhists, in Rakhine State in Myanmar, in August-September 2017. This event, the culmination of some five years of Buddhist aggression, was preceded by a concerted trend in academic Buddhist Studies to re-frame the textual, historical and cultural-anthropological account of violence and killing in classical and modern Buddhist sources. A normative schism appeared to be one of the results of this revisionary project, summarised by the question: are some cases of intentional killing actually or conceivably permissible in Buddhism? Popular media and academic specialists appeared to belie the orthodox claims of senior Buddhist representatives, contributing to a possibly equivocal understanding among Buddhists themselves, as well as the general public. Seeking to provide a robust account of the normative status of killing in Buddhism, this study theorises on relevant Buddhist philosophical grounds the metaphysical, phenomenological and ethical dimensions of the distinct intentional classes of killing, in dialogue with some elements of Western philosophical thought. The thesis pursues this philosophical explanation and justification for the Buddhist-ethical prohibition of killing in two main sequential stages. First, in Part I, Foundations, I examine and assess canonical modes of reasoning and criteria for the ethical evaluation of lethal acts, available in canonical Nikaya, Vinaya, Theravada, and some classical Mahayana texts, and their modern commentaries. Second, in Part II, Constructions, with reference to these and other early Buddhist sources, including those available in Abhidhamma/Abhidharma, Sautrantika and Pramanavada texts, I analyse four major intentional categories of lethal action. This engages the domains of killing as (1) preventive, deterrent and retributive punishment; (2) as a form of mercy-killing (including relevant cases of euthanasia, suicide and assisted-suicide, and abortion); (3) as ideological-religious contestation (relevant to terrorism, religious and political violence, and ideological militarism among other forms of symbolically-constituted action); and (4) as existential self-defence. In sum, the study engages a broad theoretical spectrum of lethality in the Buddhist-textual and cultural context, with a view to establishing a philosophical groundwork for the Buddhist-ethical theorisation of the many intellectual quandaries that emerge around killing in the different domains of Buddhist normative and applied ethics. In doing so, the study offers explanation for why killing in these domains is fundamentally wrong, by exposing what specifically in each intentional domain makes it so. In accounting for these differentiated cognitive-affective causes of killing, we come to understand how the acquisition of philosophical insight into such causes cognitively enables the Buddhist-ethical project of the extirpation of human-caused suffering.
Through Fire and Flood: Migrant Memories of Displacement and Belonging in Australia
Natural disasters are a significant feature of the Australian environment. In a country with a rich history of immigration, it is therefore surprising that historians have not yet examined the specific challenges faced by immigrants within this hazardous environment. This thesis examines migrants’ memories and experiences of bushfires and floods in Australia. Drawing on oral history interviews and regional case studies, this thesis explores the entanglement of migration and natural disaster in Australia and in the lives of migrants. Oral history interviews with migrants who have experienced bushfires in Victoria or floods in Maitland, New South Wales, are at the heart of this study. This thesis contributes to scholarship in three distinct fields—migration and environmental history, and disaster studies—and brings them together through an examination of migrants’ memories of bushfires and floods in Australia. Although traumatic experiences, displacement, and a changed and challenged sense of home, community and attachment to place and environment are common themes of both migrants and survivors of fire and flood, rarely have the similarities between these experiences been noted. This thesis is not a history of natural disasters in Australia, nor a retelling of a history of immigration to Australia, but an exploration of experiences of ‘double displacement’. This thesis argues that migrants’ recollections reveal how their burgeoning sense of home, community and attachment to place and environment was challenged by natural disasters. It highlights how their experience of ‘double displacement’ contributed to a new sense of home and belonging in a natural disaster-prone country.
Conceptual Change: Rationality, Progress and Communication
Conceptual change in science first became a hot topic five decades ago, when questions were raised about rationality and progress through scientific change. Among the first philosophers who raised these concerns, particularly in terms of the incommensurability thesis, were Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend. The main target of the incommensurability thesis was to reject the continuity of scientific change, which would ultimately question the progress of science, and rationality of scientific choice among rival scientific theories. Although philosophers of science have widely discussed this issue since the 1970s, a common understanding of conceptual change has been absent. What most scholars discussed were about specific cases of conceptual change, such as the change from ‘phlogiston’ to ‘oxygen’ or from the Newtonian use of the term ‘mass’ to the way Einstein employed it. With the heated discussion focused on these and similar cases, the notion of conceptual change per se has largely been overlooked. The first and most well-known approach to explaining conceptual change, embraced by scientific realists, was the referential approach. This approach explains rationality and progress of science in terms of the stability of reference. In order to explain referential continuity, theories of reference borrowed from the philosophy of language. If reference stays stable across scientific change, then we can explain many complicated cases studies where the progress and rationality of science were questioned. However, in the first years of the twenty-first century, a younger generation of philosophers, mainly philosophers of biology, argued against the referential approach in favour of a non-representational approach. In fact, fixing a unique reference for some key biological terms is notoriously difficult, if possible at all. Therefore, the reference of some biological terms should be determined depending on the context of use and on user’s coordination intentions. In this thesis, my main aim is to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the new non- representational approach to conceptual change. I argue that, while raising valid objections to the referential approach, the non-representational approach fails to explain communication and to fully vindicate rationality and progress in science. On demonstrating philosophical shortcomings of this new approach, I articulate my own framework for evaluating the adequacy of an account of conceptual change. Although proposing a new account of conceptual change is beyond the scope of this thesis, I briefly outline a possible way to meet the desiderata on an adequate account of conceptual change, opening a new space for further research to satisfy the proposed framework.
Point Cook: The Crucible of Air Force Capability in Australia
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.
Remembering the counterculture: Melbourne’s inner-urban alternative communities of the 1960s and 1970s
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.
History Teaching as Conversation
The thesis uses Greek and Roman historiography to discuss the learning and teaching of history. It offers a synthesis of two leading approaches to historical thinking to present a combined model. The components of this model form part of the syntax that teachers and students can use to speak about the past. Although it is rare for research in education to evoke historians from classical antiquity, Greek and Roman historians address persistent issues for history teaching and teacher education. Drawing on the work of Herodotus and Thucydides, the study underscores the importance of using questions and sources to create opportunities for students to engage in historical thinking. The research adapts a model of the epistemic authority of teachers to capture conversation in the history classroom. In this approach, the source acts as a sign for the past or aspects of historical inquiry. The study explores syntactic elements of history such as causation, significance and change. In each instance, works by classical historians are used as the foundation of discussion. The research also addresses two different, but related concepts: historical narrative and interpretations. The research argues for the teaching of historical method in schools. It advocates a social construction approach in which history teachers and students explore source material, build interpretations and exchange representations to promote understanding.
A reliabilist strategy for solving the problem of induction
In this thesis I develop a two-stage strategy in which a simple reliabilist theory of knowledge and justification can be employed so as to solve David Hume’s famous ‘problem of induction’. In so doing, the key arguments I make include: (i) that justification possesses an externalist character so we do not need to show how we know that we possess inductive knowledge, and (ii) that an inductivist rule-circular justification of induction is defensible if induction is understood in terms of a reliabilist theory of knowledge and justification.