Archives for category: #PublicHist

beach life beach chair strandkorb via Flikr CommonsWhile I was eating oysters in Tasmania, some of my history colleagues were busy on all the medias. The 26th of January provides an annual a bumper crop of #publichist in ‘Straya (not collected here) but when parliament is out of session and people are on the beach and bored editors are looking for copy, it seems historians can be relied upon to comment on most things. Trusty historians. Where would we be without them? This time with choice quotations.

  • Kate Fullagar on symbols as gateways and how not to begin an email (“History Lesson”, 16 Jan, 2018 – http://www.katefullagar.com)

    How friendly can one be with one’s former kidnapper?

  • Alecia Simmonds (sorry “‘World-renowned historian, Alecia Simmonds’) chatting with the ABC’s Tim Brunero about a not un-important 18thC dude who put pen on paper a lot (The gorgeous letters of Matthew Flinders, date not particularly clear, Tim Brunero on Soundcloud)

    He really flirts with her, but he can’t go through with it

  • Alecia Simmonds (again) (Tennis has a gender problem and it doesn’t have to be like this, 26 Jan, 2018, Sydney Morning Herald)

    I spent my childhood in an intimate imagined dialogue with every female tennis player on the circuit: beguiled by Arancha Sanchez-Vicario and her exotic double-barrelled name, infatuated by Monica Seles’ primal grunts and convinced of the physical superiority of lesbians by Martina Navratilova’s speed.

  • Paul Kramer posing some alternative questions we can ask about racism and immigration in the US, but more widely applicable (Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Racism represents an American Tradition 22 Jan 2018, New York Times and the longer, less trimmed edition)

    Elites in the United States and elsewhere — long before Donald Trump’s presidency — have long known they could sustain their power by capitalizing on, deepening and, where necessary, inventing divisions between self and other, friend and enemy.

And if you have read this far, your reward is my entreaty to do yourself a favour and read Charlotte Higgins’ piece on the wonderful Mary Beard and what it is to be an academic in the public sphere and how lives and careers don’t run along a smooth logical path and how to make public discourse better than it is.

  • Charlotte Higgins, The Cult of Mary Beard, 30 Jan 2018, The Guardian

    This is also how she teaches – with an unusually sincere attachment to the principle that the pedagogical process should be rooted in an encounter, a relationship and a dialogue.

    One reason Beard is so widely beloved is that her interventions in public life – whether one agrees with her or not – offer an alternative mode of discourse, one that people are hungry for: a position that is serious and tough in argument, but friendly and humorous in manner, and one that, at a time when disagreements quickly become shrill or abusive, insists on dialogue.

 

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What a time it is to an historian!

Here in our corner of the world in Australia, the last few weeks have witnessed a series of social and political events that have absorbed the nation.

To my mind at least, they show that the gaping cracks long evident in the notion of citizenship and belonging (and therefore sovereignty) that underpinned 20th century Australia are now so wide as to be swallowing us whole.

This was a notion of citizenship founded on settler colonialism, racial exclusion, imperial benevolence (British or American), wage arbitration, and the gendered politics that came with it. And it is in this sense that the dual citizenship crisis engulfing parliament, the Manus Island refugee crisis still unfolding with tragic consequences, the politics of the non-binding same-sex marriage postal survey, the Liberal government’s out-of-hand rejection of the Uluru Statement’s proposal for an Indigenous voice to parliament, the ongoing disaster of environmental blindness and destructive resource extraction, and the interlinked outrage of insecure work and tax avoidance are all connected.

Who gets to belong? Who gets to participate and on what (and who’s) terms? These questions underpin our political moment, not just in Australia but across the globe.

They cry out for contextualisation – no wonder the historians are out in force:

Are you an historian who has written for a wider audience? Send your #publichist pieces in for puffing!

 

Over the last couple of months I’ve been making another radio documentary for ABC Radio National’s Earshot series. It’s about the remarkable life of Adelie Hurley.  A pin-up girl in the 1930s, Adelie quickly moved behind the camera to become one of Australia’s leading press photographers in what, at the time, was an all-male profession.

And she was quite a personality – risk-taking, glamorous and full of good humour. The podcast traces her career, from the nightclubs of San Francisco, through the social changes of the 1950s and 60s, to her retirement in Coffs Harbour. Working with Kate Darian-Smith, who has been part of an ARC-funded project on press photography in Australia, the process of making the show has made me think much more carefully about the changing ways our visual culture has been and is now produced. It also gave me the chance to work with the recently digitised (thank you Trove!) archive of Pix magazine which published Adelie’s early photographs.

Podcasting is (if you haven’t noticed) now a THING, and the new trend is all in the direction of first-person narration – something with which as an old school historian I was initially uncomfortable. But making the show taught me a lot about how to shape the arc of a story, how to work with available audio, the importance of sound effects and – yes – the first person singluar. To state the obvious, telling a story via audio is quite different than working with textual sources and I’m grateful to Adelie  (and ABC RN) for teaching me some of the tricks of the trade.

Adelie ‘Front Page’ Hurley aired on ABC RN’s Earshot programme on Tuesday 14 November 2017 and is available now for download or podcast.

To see Adelie’s photos …

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